We all want to get better, which means we’re all on the same path. When you see someone whose music blows you away, the tips below are part of what they did to get there. No matter how impossible it seems, you can do it, too. Follow these 7 guidelines:
All humans are musical. In that sense, musical ability is genetic. We all have musical potential. But like all genes, our musical potential reacts in a dynamic relationship with the environment (no matter what age we are). There is no nature OR nurture, it’s always nature AND nurture. Here’s a great and adorable example: Two-year-old Khaliyl Iloyi rapping with his dad, Femi. Little dude’s got some skills! And he got those skills not because he’s got some natural ability, but because he’s growing up in a musically rich environment.
Where you practice matters. For example, singing at the top of your lungs into a waterfall might be the perfect place to practice is you want to become a great Pansori singer.
Intangible Asset No. 82 is a wonderful documentary that tells the story of Australian drummer Simon Barker’s quest to meet a Korean shaman, master drummer, and grand-master improviser Kim Seok-Chul. During Barker’s journey he meets some interesting characters, including Bae Il-Dong, a Pansori singer who practiced for seven years by singing into a waterfall. Intrigued? In this preview, Bae Il-Dong will be the second person you see and hear. He’s hard to miss.
Zing-Yang Kuo was a biologist who was interested in investigating behaviors that were thought to be instinctual, or innate (his early research on this topic was in the 1920s). He studied chicken embryos, because it was believed the distinctive pecking behavior chicks show immediately upon hatching was an instincutual, innate behavior. Zing-Yang Kuo believed that labeling a behavior as “innate” or “natural” or “instinctual” didn’t help anyone understand the behavior. He watched chicken embryos develop by coating eggs with warm vaseline, rendering the shells translucent. And here’s the thing:
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, check out a sample from The Practice of Practice. Hans Zimmer is an award-winning film composer and music producer. You can seem more pics…
Those with love and passion and curiosity will see everything as useful in some way. Some call it the “enchantment with everyday objects.”
The next time you think you have to have an expensive instrument to make music, remember this video. I got all choked up. Brilliant!
This has me thinking about portable practice. Would practicing these drum set skills transfer to a real set? Maybe. Either way, it would be fun. There are all kinds of “travel” instruments out there for surreptitious practice: pocket trumpets, travel guitars in many configurations, and now, this drum set. First vid is the drum solo,…
There’s a reason jazz musicians (and other musicians, and actors, chefs, etc.) move to NY City, Chicago, or other large metropolitan areas. They are places, as Russell Malone says in this short vid, where there are more opportunities to get your behind kicked. And when you’re learning and striving to get better, that’s exactly what you need.
Ever since I picked up the trumpet, practice has been a never-ending search for privacy. Mostly a failed search, too. When I was a kid learning to play, my parents banished me to the garage, and this was a great thing, even though the garage was unheated and we lived in Alaska. It gave me a space to explore without fear of annoying the hell out of anyone within earshot. It also let me escape fear of judgment and gave me the freedom to really explore the instrument and my relationship with it. Now I live in Chicago. No garage. Not even a house. I’m in an apartment and have neighbors on five sides.
Michelle and I were in a little bar somewhere in the French quarter of New Orleans, halfway through a 2-year road trip (yes, you heard that right), and the tight Reggae band we’d been listening to took a break and never came back. We stood outside in the drizzle, not ready to go back to the VW camper but we had no idea where to go and had no money for a cab. In the distance, we heard music. It sounded like a brass band, and they sounded smoking hot. We were afraid it was only a recording, but had to find out for sure, so we followed our ears through the drizzle to a little corner bar that was thumping!
Usually, our experience of music is very abstract. It’s coherent sound coming out of a speaker, with no visuals of those who made the music, and not only that but the actual event of making the music is in the past, sometimes the distant past. This is why live music of any kind is such a powerful and necessary thing for your own music. To see live bodies in a room (or stadium) with you, making music, breathes life into what it means to make music. The art becomes real, palpably so, and takes on a resonance and meaning that goes well beyond a recording…