Interview with Jonathan Harnum

An interview on practice with yours truly over at The Aspiring Guitarist from a few months back. You can also get it via podcast. Check it out! It’s always fun to chat about practice, and I always learn something, but it’s never a long enough convo to get all the good stuff out there. If you…

Cover Design for “The Practice of Practice”

Practice safe design: Use a concept.
~ Petrula Vrontikis

Well, after a good deal of thought and a couple years of writing on this book, the cover design is finally in.

Chaining and Back-Chaining

Whenever I hear the “Concerto for Trumpet in Eb” by Johann Nepomuk Hummel I have this flashback: I’m once again in high school, about to perform the Concerto (on a Bb trumpet). It’s an ambitious piece for any trumpet player, let alone a high schooler; let alone a kid from rural Alaska who has had no lessons. I’m nervous, of course, but I’ve practiced (or so I think), I’ve worked with my excellent accompanist a few times. I’ve never performed it before but I don’t give this much thought because I’m too nervous. I sit in the warm-up room and practice a little before I go perform. That’s not true. I practice a LOT. It’s becoming frighteningly clear to me–much too late–that I don’t really know this piece. I work the sections that are difficult (there are a lot) and begin to get tired. My chops are getting tender. I stop practicing and go perform with a feeling of trepidation in my gut.

Free Music e-Books & a Trumpet Book Podcast

Many changes in the wind this week. In celebration of the new Sol Ut Press web site, you can get a free eBook copy of two of my books Basic Music Theory: How to Read, Write, and Understand Written Music and Sound the Trumpet: How to Blow Your Own Horn. Tell your friends. I’ll be giving an unlimited number of eBook giveaways for the next month. When I’ve done this sort of thing the past, it usually works out to around 10,000 copies per month. I hope to break that record.

Beginnings

Planning is an essential part of your practice session. Imagine the planning that went into the video above, and ask yourself how much planning goes into your practice sessions. Every book I’ve read on practice, and every research article that looks into what musicians do when they practice mentions the importance of planning out your practice session. This includes broader plans like goals, as well as more specific things like exactly which pieces or skills you’re going to tackle and how you’re going to tackle them. This planning stage is only one part of a 3-stage process used by most of the people studied by McPherson and Zimmerman in a 2002 study. Here’s what it looks like:

More Freebies

Information wants to be free, and the Internet makes that happen. A good friend teaching music in Pakistan and who is now moving to Manila to continue teaching music turned me on to a wiki for the Petrucci Music Library, a repository of free sheet music that is in the public domain. You can search by composer, by composer nationality, by period, and by type of work. What a great resource! They’ve been online for 4 years now, and I’m wondering how I missed it. I hope you can find something to use there.

Jazz Resources

Jazz isn’t dead, it just smells funny. ~Frank Zappa

I don’t care too much about music. What I like is sounds. ~Dizzy Gillespie
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This coming weekend I’m hosting at the computer lab at the Evanston Township High School Jazz Festival, a jazz fest for high school jazzers in and around the Chicago area. I’m putting together some resources that the budding jazz musician will find helpful, including listening, blogs, freeware, software, podcasts, and anything else that might be useful. Some of the software I’ve mentioned in one or two earlier posts (Sibelius, Aviary, NoteFlight, Audacity, Band in a Box, etc). I’ll put links to that software here, but won’t go into much detail. If you’re not into playing jazz, you should certainly check out some of the listening opportunities. Great stuff there…. Enjoy!

Tiny Grains of Sand: The Warmup and the Breath

We see past time in a telescope and present time in a microscope. Hence the apparent enormities of the present. Victor Hugo ——— Want to learn more about the best ways to practice? Get an e-mail with a discount code when The Practice of Practice is published (June, 2014). To learn more about the book,…

Your Plastic Brain (redux)

Learning changes your brain structure. My neurons underwent some serious alteration this weekend, all naturally induced, thank you very much. One of the world’s foremost grand masters of the djembe, Mamady Keita (vid to follow), was in Chicago to give beginning-, intermediate-, and advanced drum workshops. I’ve never had a djembe lesson before. I signed up for the beginner session and would learn very quickly what “beginner” actually meant to this crowd. Good thing I didn’t know that Keita’s definition of “beginner” is most people’s definition of, “I know what I’m doing.” If I’d known this, my stomach would’ve been in even more of a knot about showing up with little to no real djembe experience. Nothing like a good challenge to get you to really pay attention.