One of my favorite things about teaching is getting students ready for performances. Deep-down, every kid loves to perform. We just have to find it in them. And if we put a lot of work into practicing, why not share it with an audience and help them feel good?
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It’s ironic how something perceived as strict and mechanical can help us learn to move a room with not only pulse, but musicality. Creative uses of the metronome help us play more loosely and musically than if we just keep the beat with it. As musicians and music teachers we should be creative people. How we use the metronome should be a creative art in and of itself.
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I was once rehearsing with a multi-platinum record recording artist. I was given a few cd’s of music days before the rehearsal and jotted down keyboard lines, progressions, etc – whatever I needed to get through a two-hour gig of music I’d never heard before. There were no charts – just my transcriptions/notes. At some point the band leader turned to me and asked, “What are you looking at all that paper for? Music doesn’t exist on a piece of paper.” » Read more
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all we can’t do yet with our music. I remember that feeling of always having to “get this down” or “learn how to do this one thing” before I was “ready” for some superficial level of musicianship.
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I think it’s important that music students and musicians only play what they want to play – all the time. At a time when kids have so many activities to choose from, I’ve found this to be key in maintaining and developing engagement with students. As a musician, it makes practicing and playing way more rewarding. The cool thing is that you can do this with any repertoire.
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Once students establish an effective routine in practice, it is always fascinating to see what they do when they practicing. Often we practice something for a long time only to feel that our progress doesn’t match our efforts. In my opinion, this is a choice to feel this way. It is a choice in how we practice. I only say that because I often fell into the pitfall of associating the amount of time to the success of my practice. » Read more
Several students have recently come out of musical ruts because we were able to get organized with their practice and they were willing to embrace a simple practice routine. It is always frustrating when we as students or teachers think that something sounds better the previous lesson than it does at the beginning of the current lesson. In group lessons, students get frustrated when they start to lag behind the others even when they are more than capable of keeping up. » Read more
Recently several of my students have found themselves on the tangible side of much hard work, frustration, hope and dedication. The tangible side being the stage when we know we are onto something. We know we sound better. We are aware there is a command developed over our art form that allows us to be more fluid, spontaneous and creative. » Read more
Practicing scales is a great opportunity to consciously shape our personal sound. For many years I would use scales to build dexterity and theory knowledge. On many levels this experience was very helpful. However, the greatest benefit I experienced from practicing scales happened when I changed my habits, focus and priorities. » Read more