Posts in category “Musicianship”

October 9, 2017

Getting past frustration and burnout

Every musician (and music student) goes through periods of frustration and burnout. But there's no one-size-fits-all solution.

September 19, 2017

Preventing accidents with pencil marks

Why spend practice hours trying to remember a flat here or a trill key there when I can solve the problem permanently and in a matter of seconds with a quick marking? Why risk getting momentarily distracted and missing an entrance when a few judicious cue notes can provide a helpful reminder?

August 15, 2017

Please lose the music binder

For some reason a high percentage of my incoming students each year like to make a 3-ring binder for their sheet music and lesson materials. I don't know why.

July 12, 2017

Recording your practicing

photo, James Cridland“Record yourself when you practice” is common advice, and good advice. I frequently recommend it to my students, but few of them do it. I think it can seem overwhelming. Recording seems like a big production: getting the material to performance level, using complicated and expensive equipment, playing beginning to end, doing cruelly ...

July 7, 2017

Buy intonation, not tone

How exciting to try out new instruments (or mouthpieces or headjoints or barrels or…) and to find one that really has a great sound! It’s a rite of passage for the young woodwind player, trying out a parade of shiny new possibilities, surrounded by parents, a private teacher, friends, and a salesperson with dollar signs ...

June 7, 2017

How are you going to improve this?

Practicing without a plan rarely produces the desired results.

May 19, 2017

Staying motivated for summer practicing

photo, Craig ONeal For musicians on an academic schedule, summers are often wide open. This can be a great opportunity to get ahead, or a bottomless pit of procrastination and idleness. Here are some ideas for staying motivated to get some summer practicing done.

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 ...
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