Tony Williams In Five Songs

In commemoration of drumming legend Tony Williams’ birthday, we look back at his momentous career of innovation and exploration. Source: Tony Williams In Five Songs

How to Get Better at What You Love

Loved hearing about how Demosthenes practiced in this talk by Eduardo Briceño.

Many musicians–especially school musicians who perform only once every few months–need almost the opposite approach from what Eduardo emphasizes at the beginning of this talk.

Wynton Marsalis: 12 Rules of Practice

Wynton Marsalis knows how to practice. As a younger man, he was equally at home in front of a symphony orchestra playing the Haydn concerto, or laying down some serious jazz with Art Blakey. Check out his 12 Rules of Practice after the video.

Stare With Your Ears

Hardenberger is working with young trumpeter Elizabeth Fitzpatrick. First, notice the difference in tone and musicality between Ms. Fitzpatrick and Mr. Hardenberger. Pretty amazing. But what’s really helpful is what Hardenberger tells her about listening.

2nd Place is the First Loser?

Here’s what a loser sounds like:[video]

Of course I’m being sarcastic. This is a wonderful performance by 12-year-old So0-Yen Lee-Wieniawaski.

Constrain Yourself: Creativity in Practice

Writers, musicians, visual artists, or any other person who relies on creativity for their well-being–whether spiritual, mental, or monetary–knows that ideas like inspiration, talent, or some other idea that makes us believe that things should be “easy,” are often more hindrance than help. It’s work. And that’s not a bad thing.
What’s great about hearing Jack White speak about his own process is learning about the constraints he puts on himself. There is also this gem about why constraints are so important, and how surfeit can suck the juice out of creativity:

Getting Loopy: Elijah Aaron covers TLC’s “No Scrubs”

Loop pedals are such a great way to have fun while you practice, no matter what instrument you play. You hone your rhythmic skills, you focus on a short snippet of music at time, you can layer these snippets to your heart’s content, and best of all, you receive immediate feedback. Here’s Elijah Aaron showing us how it’s done right, with a cover of TLC’s No Scrubs

Practicing Performance: How to Beat Stage Fright

Most professional musicians I’ve spoken with about practice believe that the performance is one of many forms of practice. Some use performance specifically as their only practice. For those who practice alone or are shy, a good performance requires skills that aren’t honed in the practice room. You’ve got to just get out there, do it, and learn from it. This fun TED talk by Joe Kowan is a perfect example of practicing performance, and using creativity to enhance practice.

Score Study 2.0: Stravinsky’s “Petrushka”

This interactive score of Petrushka is a gold mine for anyone interested in the piece. Stravinsky wrote Petrushka when he was 28 years old, in 1910-11. It’s a wonderful piece of music, and even if you’re not a classical musician, this site is a feast for the mind and the ears. Follow along in the highly interactive score, learn about what the different parts represent, learn about the historical context, and listen to commentary from music luminaries on the piece. There is something for everyone here: players, teachers, and even young children.