Do Vonnegut’s Creativity Assignment.

In 2006 a high school English teacher asked students to write a famous author and ask for advice. Kurt Vonnegut was the only one to respond. Here’s his reply: “Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to…

Conga Diddles: Johnny Conga’s Excellent Conga Exercises

Johnny Conga has some great stuff for any conga player, like this gem below. It’s simple, but it ain’t easy! In The Practice of Practice, I recommend taking up a drum. It’s great for your rhythm skills, it’s fun, and if you’re a piano player, a hand drum is a lot more portable!

Billie Eilish: Carpool Karaoke

I loved what she said about “just messing around” with her music as it relates to practice. She and her brother were allowed to stay up as late as they wanted as long as they were making music. 🙂 Also, her brother Finneas wrote “10,000 hours”” above her bedroom door frame (12:20). Just don’t forget,…

Play better than ever with these 5 essential guitar warm-up exercises 

Gypsy jazz guitar master Stéphane Wrembel offers some terrific exercises that will help you develop fret-hand strength. He makes them look easy! Stephane also had some great practice advice included in The Practice of Practice. Source: Play better than ever with these 5 essential guitar warm-up exercises | Guitar World

More Than Keeping Time: A Melodic Drumming Demo : NPR

Allison Miller was one of many master musicians who shared their experience of practice for my book, The Practice of Practice. (full list here). Allison mentioned that, in addition to hitting her fundmentals and all the “usual” practice stuff, she also made time to go into a room with her drums and just play. That…

‎Make Scale Practice More Fun with the Afro Latin Drum Machine

That boring click-click-click is one way to keep the beat, but there’s a better way. Check out the AfroLatin Drum Machine. The free version loops for 16 bars or so and has limited styles, but is still quite good, and super useful as an interesting metronome for practice. The full version costs more but is…

Devil’s interval: What makes music sound scary?

Metal bands and horror films stoke sonic dread the same way 19th century composers did—with a forbidden sequence of notes known as the “devil’s interval.” Source: Devil’s interval: What makes music sound scary? — Quartzy    

 How To Play a Piano Montuno over any chord 

I’m not a piano player, but I do play the piano. You should, too. It’s one of the best tools for understanding theory. So, I’m always looking for something to play on piano that’s easy and fun (and useful, I hope). A band mate suggested I learn montunos, so that’s what I’m doing. Here are…

Keep Track of Your Practice

Keep track of your goals, exercises, or whatever with this handy Exercise Tracking Form. One of many freebies you’ll find in Basic Music Theory: How to Read, Write, and Understand Written Music. Click to get the link to this PDF.