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Tag Archive 'Zen'

A few days into the new year, I am excited by all the signs of reinvigoration I see around me, and by the shoots in my own life trying to emerge as I clear space for the new. Washington Post music critic Anne Midgette introduces a new format where both print articles and blog posts […]

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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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Authenticity and Simplicity

This past year I have not written much at all, to which I will chalk up to life. At last I can take a breath, and begin to write again about the things that matter to me, the values which I am working on now with a particular focus. I am thinking of the idea that […]

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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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Mental Effortfulness

Zazen is for allowing a clear mind. – Shunyru Suzuki, quoted in Crooked Cucumber by David Chadwick It’s February, which means that everyone in academe (students and professors) is in the trenches, trying to make it to Spring Break.  It is easy to find oneself overwhelmed – and there are signs that a number of […]

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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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Snow Meditation

I offer a koan for winter – obviously a variation on a classic: What is the sound of snow falling? I came up with this last night, with the thought of listening to the sound of the snow while going to sleep.  But this morning it occurred that there may be something to it.  If […]

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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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Like most holidays, Thanksgiving gives us a chance to be reflective, which of course I love.  Musicians think in musical terms – about relationships between pitches and harmonies, rhythmic patterns on various time scales, the big picture of musical form and of the ensemble, and where we fit into it.  So we are naturally inclined […]

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