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Category Archive for 'Practice'

A Year of Dance

It was about a year ago that I learned of a dance school near me with a class in beginning ballet for adults, and with some trepidation left a voice message inquiring about this class, clarifying that I had no previous experience in dance. I soon got a call back from the director of the school; she […]

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My last post about taking beginning ballet class just scratched the surface. Now I’d like to attempt to write more about the background reasons for studying ballet, and the effects I am discovering. As I mentioned previously, my initial reason for exploring ballet was to go add something to my physical apparatus to bring back […]

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Beginning Ballet, Part 1

The philosophy behind this blog, Shunryu Suzuki’s classic Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, is something I have embraced in an entirely new way with my beginning to study ballet. Many times in the past I have peered into dance studios with class in progress, and while studying at Juilliard I even took a few classes in José Limon technique. […]

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Cross Pollination

Inspiration can come from many sources. In my younger days I was inspired by the artistry of players of instruments other than the trombone – particularly Mstislav Rostropovich, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, singers like Fritz Wunderlich, Dawn Upshaw, Frederica Von Stade (and again), Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. These and countless others helped form my musical DNA; and of course this is not […]

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After a summer of relative blog quietude, the school year fast approaches – this year with the additional time pressure/terror from a summer more focused on moving into and fixing up a new home than on work. Inspired by Thoreau’s exhortation in ​Walden​ (originally from Confucius?) to “Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, […]

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Watching how great teachers teach is to take the study of a discipline (in this case conducting) to a meta level, studying teaching itself. Here follow some spontaneous and random observations of Leonid Korchmar’s and Oleg Proskurnya’s approaches to teaching. Good teaching is not about the ego of the teacher – ‘do things as I […]

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It is always inspiring to reconnect with one’s craft, as I have the opportunity to do by observing the teaching of my mentors Oleg Proskurnya and Leonid Korchmar at the conducting workshop at West Virginia State in Charleston, June 18-23. The principles of physics affect all forms of music making, but they are particularly visible […]

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Last Concert

I am writing on the morning of the Hamilton College Orchestra’s last concert of the year, and it seems like the right time to draft some thoughts on what I hope my students learned in working with me this year – or 2, 3, or 4. It would be presumptuous to say I successfully conveyed […]

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To Practice or to Play

I got a lovely note from a recently graduated student, one paragraph of which got me to thinking.  “I’ve recently decided I will no longer practice [my instrument].  This is because practicing has a ‘task’ associated with it.  Now, I will just play.”  The profundity of these three sentences gets to the heart of what […]

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On Character

The evening after my most recent orchestra concert (and in the middle of a snowstorm!) I unwound by watching a documentary on the great 20th century French music and composition teacher Nadia Boulanger: Nadia Boulanger – Mademoiselle.  Since studying for 2 years (in 1997-99) at the University of Michigan with Marianne Ploger, who was one […]

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