Sounding Bad as a Daily Practice

Practicing and performing should not be that different from each other when it comes to our musical approach. I believe that standards for energy, emotion, execution and creativity shouldn’t change that much between our practice room repetitions and the stage. If someone were to eavesdrop on a practice sessions, they should feel like they’re hearing us perform. However, they shouldn’t hear us sounding perfect or even good.

» Read more

Perfection as a Way of Life

After the post last week about recovering from bad performances, several folks have asked for more information and specifics in regards to the approaches I mentioned. This post will be part of a series on methods we can use to treat each practice session and/or rehearsal as a performance – hopefully making each performance less tense and more rewarding in the process.

» Read more

Going Big Memorizing Large Pieces and Programs More Efficiently

The final post in this memorization series is about learning large chunks of music or big pieces/programs quickly and efficiently – without needing the printed music. If you have been following the last few posts on the topic and trying them out, this post should feel like a logical extension.

» Read more

There is No Joy in Repetition Getting the Most Out of Each Repetition

Repetition has long been a staple of music pedagogy. As students we were always asked to play the same section a certain number of times in a row to obtain “mastery” (whatever that is). When most of us became teachers, we just continued the tradition. When I broke from that tradition I noticed that my students started to improve much faster and their playing became more personal and lively.

» Read more

Take a Picture Part 2 in the "Playing from Memory" Series

While a student at University of Miami, I wrote an original jazz tune for one of our ensembles that I was very excited about. I felt the tune captured the vibe of the famous Miles Davis quintet from the ‘60’s… That was the theme of the ensemble. The tune had unpredictable harmonic rhythm, harmony based on modes of melodic minor and a lot of suspended chords, and romantic-influenced melodies. It wasn’t extremely complicated but it wasn’t simple either.

» Read more

If I Only Had a Brain Alternatives to Memorizing Music

For many students of music, performing without the printed music in front of them can be a stressful venture. Over the years I’ve eliminated the word “memorized” from my teaching vocabulary – at it has helped my students tremendously. However, for the sake of honoring the tradition I’ve included the word “memorize” from time to time in the post – this is the first of a series of posts on playing without the printed page.

» Read more

New Improvisation with Reason

For the last several years I’ve been learning more about sound design and electronic music. My students would push me pretty hard when we would work on these concepts forcing me to keep pace. I’ve finally gotten up the skills with the tech to start improvising more freely. Here’s as short sample something I improvised today when working with a program called Reason. First I programmed the drums and the sounds, then improvised on the keyboards. I hope you enjoy it!

If you can’t see the video in your email, click here to view it.

Passion Makes Perfect

Playing and practicing music can be a real grind. Just like anything that requires discipline and hard work, it’s easy to lose track of why we even do it. We often lose touch with what is really important to us or we never find it in the first place. We simply follow a path that has been well worn by teaching methods, peers or mentors.

This week I was reminded of what it looks like to be emotionally engaged in the music-making process. It was a very inspirational and informative moment for me.

Bjork Up Close

Bjork up Close

» Read more

The Unassigned Assignments

There’s an assignment that we often miss as teachers. And it’s one that always makes our jobs way easier – maybe easier than anything we could have students do. Over time it simply transforms our students’ musical experiences and their abilities.

Students should be asked to listen to music each time we see them. It can be done in casual conversations about what they’ve been listening to (or what we’ve been listening to), to more precise assignments based on what you’re working on in lessons.

» Read more

1 2 3 6