Hatian Relief

The tragic circumstances in Haiti need our attention. Give if you can. Because Evan Tobias is both eloquent and informed, and says it better than I would, I’ve provided the following image linked to his post on some musician’s response to sending Haitian relief : Thanks, Ev. Want to learn more about the best ways…

Let Your Dim Light Shine

It’s hard to maintain a belief that you can get a lot of joy out of doing something at less-than-professional levels when you’re surrounded by a culture that tells you otherwise, but I would like to say that not only is it possible, but it’s the norm. If all musicians in the world took a survey on this issue, we’d find that there are many more happy amateur musicians out there than there are happy professionals. We should all let our lights shine and celebrate not the intensity of the light, but that it shines at all.

Thoughts on Art and Hip Hop

Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known. –Oscar Wilde. I am for an art that takes its forms from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself. –Claes…

Forget Perfection (or, No Fear)

Flight is our usual response when we come up against these fears in practice. We skim over all we have to do because there is so much. We fly through routines and exercises and try to cram as much as possible in our half hour of practice (or whatever amount) because we’re running to keep up with our desire to get better as fast as possible. This is NOT the way to go about practice because what you do learn will be of a surface nature, will not stick with you, and will probably be riddled with mistakes.

A more proper response to this fear is to recognize it, and not fall back on the flight response, but tap into the fight response. Fight it by …

Improv = Improve

About learning to play an instrument John Stevens says: Improvisation is the basis of learning to play a musical instrument. But what usually happens? You decide you want a certain instrument. You buy the instrument and then think to yourself, “I’ll go and find a teacher, and who knows, in seven or 8 years’ time…

Musical Osmosis

The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: Be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge. Elbert Hubbard (American editor, publisher and writer, 1856-1915) I often meet people who say they don’t know anything about music, or have the mistaken believe they aren’t “musical” at all. Such conversations make me think that we should expand…

Signal to Noise

This–among other things–helps the brain grow myelin, the substance that helps neurons fire more efficiently, making you better at whatever it is you’re practicing. The best example Coyle gives is futsal, a game very much like futbol (American soccer), but in a smaller field, with a smaller and heavier ball, and much quicker. Major players in world soccer (esp. if they’re Brazilian), have used the greater intensity of the signal in futsal to improve their soccer skills. It’s also a great example of how playing a game might actually be furthering your goals. Some think playing games are a waste of time, and video games can be a great example. But what is time-wasting, really? It’s noise. And noise depends on your definitions, your context.

The McGurk Effect

Don’t believe everything you think. –folk wisdom _________________________________ Think you can stump the ear/eye connection? Below is a little test to see if you fall into the 98% of adults who experience the McGurk Effect. It doesn’t relate directly to music practice, but is interesting to think about and it does involve listening. Neuroscience usually…

Ass Power!

Learn what Quincy Jones meant when he said one of the reasons for Michal Jackson’s success was that he had ass power. It’s not what you might think. Ass power will certainly help your own music practice. Learn about it.

Don’t Eat the Marshmallow (yet)!

In another short and funny six minute TED talk called Don’t Eat the Marshnmallow Yet by Joachim de Posada, the advantages of delayed gratification are tested with four year old kids and marshmallows. If the kid could wait 15 minutes without eating a marshmallow in front of them, they got another one. The original Stanford…

Teach to Learn

When one teaches, two learn. — Robert Heinlein If you really want to learn something you already know more deeply, there is no better way than trying to teach it to someone else. People in the Learning Sciences who study how we come to know what we know say that knowledge is socially constructed. We…

Creative Practice

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual. Arthur Koestler Some thinkers about creativity identify two different types: Creativity and creativity, or “Big C” and “Little c.” Some believe that “true” creativity is only that which contributes to changes in the way we think or…