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Tag Archive 'Practice'

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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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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Piggyback

When you have a strict practice that doesn’t ignore the weak points of your practice, then eventually you will have good practice. – Shunyru Suzuki, quoted in Crooked Cucumber by David Chadwick A friend of mine, Keith Hill, notes (as have others) that on one level who we are is the sum of how we […]

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Back from a long trip (sans instrument) over the holidays, I am taking notes while sitting at the piano playing scales for the first time in weeks, and anticipating doing the same in a couple days with long tones on trombone.  I am definitely starting over (again). Many people loathe this feeling of starting over […]

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On Being a Smart Athlete

A recurring theme this fall, for me and others: sooner or later many of us experience some degree of injury from the physical aspect of our work or training. I find it useful to think of this in terms of Being a Smart Athlete. In my case this applies to both my music and exercise habits. Some general observations:

1. Musicians are Athletes. Our bodies are our instruments, and we need to monitor and manage them as carefully as would an elite athlete.

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I don’t know the specific biological or neurological mechanisms that would pertain to whether the Vibrational Model is literally accurate or more of a metaphor – but at some level it feels right. Even if only metaphorically, each of us does both transmit and receive vibrations from others; and we are deeply influenced at both cellular and energetic levels both by these vibrations, as well as by the range of vibrations we detect as sounds (music, speech, or ambient sound or noise).

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How much practicing?

The most basic part of pursuing music at any level is learning what it means to Honor your Craft.  Many books address this topic – some of my favorites being Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (see my first post), Eric Maisel’s Coaching the Artist Within, Eric Booth’s The Everyday Work of Art, and Twyla Tharp’s […]

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