Jun 132013
We know we ought to concentrate, be aware, and focus on what we are doing. But for most of us it’s rather difficult. We all know people who seem to have an uncanny ability to do this. For a few, it’s so strong they can be totally unaware of what’s going on around them. But many of us are easily distracted, sometimes so much so it’s even hard to get to the piano in the first place. read the rest
Mar 172013
It started when the mother of a 10 year-old student mentioned that she referred me to the mother of an 8 year-old for lessons. She characterized me as “strict but not mean.” Hmm, they are usually thought to be the same thing. I decided it meant that there were certain things that were necessary to learn before one can play well and play musically. read the rest
Feb 242013
Recently I’ve been reminded how valuable slow practicing is. For most people this is extremely important, for a few, not so much so. I don’t mean any absolute speed but rather one in which we can play the notes and rhythms successfully. Easier pieces won’t need as slow a pace as harder ones. As one’s music reading gets better, the pace can and should increase. read the rest
Feb 282012
The Work of MusicFor some adult students, the love of music creates a paralysis of learning that is remarkable and surprising. We always assume that the love of a subject is an important ingredient in learning; but too much can get in the way. For some, music is so precious and wonderful that their awe of it makes it hard to approach the nitty-gritty work necessary for mastery of the common physical tasks of music making. read the rest
Feb 282012
People consider sports and music at opposite ends of the spectrum but they aren’t. The verb itself is the same. One plays football and plays basketball and plays piano and plays violin. In music, only singing and drumming have their own verbs and they are the oldest of all musical activities. Both sports and music involve endless amounts of practice. read the rest
Nov 282007
Recent exchanges on the MusicalFossils message board expressing concern about memory lapses offer valuable insights. I would like to talk about this issue from a different perspective than I have before. I often hear my adult students bemoan that they don’t memorize as well as they did as children. The next statement usually has something to do with aging and memory loss. read the rest
Dec 102004
This article was part of a workshop given in May 2003 and contains suggestions by the participants, Libby Francisco, Pat Malmgren, Pat Onufrak, and Deb Selby. Listening to students talk about their practice, I hear of many insidious feelings that I failed to fully appreciate, even though I experience them myself. I’ve touched on the feelings throughout these chapters, but they deserve more focused attention. read the rest