Posts in category “Musicianship”

April 18, 2017

Confident entrances

It’s deceptively difficult to make a correct entrance after a rest. Here’s what I recommend for maximum confidence and security:

March 20, 2017

Priorities and patience

photo, Helder RibeiroStudent: I really just want to improve my sound. Beautiful tone is a nice goal, but it’s subjective, and it’s inextricable from less-sexy pursuits like consistent tone, solid intonation, and reliable response. Let’s expand your focus to your overall tone production and make sure you do lots of listening to the great players. Then you’ll be equipped ...

February 16, 2017

Why scales?

I recently asked one of my (woodwind) students why she thinks I make her practice scales. She didn’t have a ready answer, and I realized maybe I hadn’t been clear about the value of scales. Here are some reasons to practice scales (and arpeggios, and other methodical technical materials): To develop good finger movement. Scales provide ...

January 18, 2017

Staying challenged

I teach a small woodwind studio at a small university. That means that sometimes especially talented and hardworking students find they don’t have a lot of competition for ensemble placements, awards, and other things. Here’s what I suggest to students in that position, who want to stay motivated and challenged but have bumped up against ...

January 7, 2017

Musicians should embrace carry-on baggage fees

People are outraged over an airline’s announcement that its cheapest fares will no longer cover carry-on baggage. (This isn’t the first time that airlines have charged fees for carry-on bags.) My experience flying with musical instruments as carry-ons has been stressful at best. This passage from an economics textbook rings true to me: The battle begins in the gate ...

November 15, 2016

Simple and effective cues

Beginners to this often work much too hard at cueing, trying to execute movements that are large, elaborate, and confusing.

October 18, 2016

Solo/chamber stage etiquette for first-year music majors

Here’s what I teach my first-year music majors as they are preparing for their first public performance of solo or chamber repertoire. Customs may vary in your area. Dress professionally and comfortably. Formalwear/eveningwear is overkill and a distraction for most music major recital performances. For men, I recommend a necktie and preferably also a jacket. For ...

September 22, 2016

The best practice routine

Lately I’ve been on a diet that has a weekly “cheat” day. Six days out of the week, my meals are Spartan, but on cheat day I get to eat whatever I want. My guess is that isn’t the ideal way to manage my waistline. I would be better off eating more regimented meals every day. But I ...

February 5, 2016

Practice slump checklist

Sometimes my students complain that they have had bad practicing days or weeks. Here are a few ideas for breaking out of a practicing slump.

January 11, 2016

Practicing and the two-minute rule

David Allen’s well-known book Getting Things Done is always within arm’s reach at my desk. I find its concepts and techniques valuable for managing my time and productivity. I don’t consciously use a lot of “GTD” ideas in my practicing, since practicing seems to me like a thing that is never “done.” (If any of you are ...