Free Poster for Your Practice Room (corrected)

Below is a link to the free printable poster that sums up how your belief in whether talent is “natural” or a result of effort impacts your practice. A typo in the original has been corrected. (thanks, Bruce). This comes from chapter 6 in The Practice of Practice. (high-rez printable PDF) Advertisements

Top 7 Practice Tips for Absolute Beginners (and everyone else, too)

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:

Motivation to Practice: Go With the Flow

There’s a lot to like about the video of pianist Glenn Gould below. I’ve highlighted three things that happen in the video (see clips below).

As the great Robert Krulwich (of Radiolab and NPR) pointed out in a recent post, Gould appears to be deep in a Flow state, practicing Bach’s Partita #2.

Goals as Fractals and Guerrilla Practice

Hans Jørgen Jensen is an affable cello teacher from whose studio have come cello players who win in international cello competitions and garner spots in top orchestras around the world. He’s a wonderful teacher and an interesting, busy man. There were many gems to admire when he spoke with me about practice, but the one that sticks in my mind, the one that was powerful enough to make it a chapter in The Practice of Practice was the power of goals. Another chapter covers what I’ve called Guerrilla Practice: snatching a tiny fragment of practice when you can, either once a day or, ideally, throughout the day. Both are covered briefly below.

Sona Jobarteh: Multi-Instrumental Musician

The song in this video is “Jarabi.” Sona Jobarteh comes from a long line of Griot masters, a musical and cultural tradition from West Africa that is at least 700 years old. When Europe was at the tail-end of the Dark Ages, travelling Griot musicians were bringing news and ceremony throughout West Africa in the Mali empire.

One Source of Talent: Everything Counts (In Large Amounts)

Researchers are not yet sure if “natural” talent exists. Pretty solid arguments can be made for either side, but in my opinion, the strongest evidence seems to tell us that “natural” talent is a myth. The myth of “natural” talent is so pervasive because it’s impossible to see all the ways someone has practiced throughout their lives, and by practice, I’m talking about exposure as well as the diligent sit-in-a-room-by-yourself kind of practice. Everything counts.

But whatever the reality is, you have to check out this video of DMK playing a cover of Depeche Mode’s tune Everything Counts. The letters DMK stand for Dicken Schrader and his kids Milah and Korben. The ending is great because it’s then clear this video isn’t cobbled together from a bunch of different takes, but is one clean performance, probably a long time coming based on their reactions. Great stuff. Thanks for sharing, Schraders!

Less Talk, More Music

The title of this post says what I feel. Talk is cheap. If talking about music sufficed, music would not be. I’ll shut up now. Well, almost. Props where props are due.

Reinier Voet and company (w/ Rob Stoop on accordion) play Django’s beautiful tune, Anouman. Mr. Voet’s web site is here.

12 Rules of Music Practice (Wynton Marsalis)

Here are 12 practice suggestions from Master Marsalis. Each one could be the subject of a book on its own. After the vids, I’ve added suggestions to consider below each of Wynton’s rules. Some will be covered more thoroughly in the book, “The Practice of Practice.”

Yeime Arrieta Ramos: When She Looks Asleep, Her Accordion Playing is Most Dangerous

Meet young accordion queen, Yeime Arrieta Ramos. Her playing is great, and her attitude is even better. I’ve been writing about Flow states lately, for a chapter in the motivation section in The Practice of Practice. Young Ms. Ramos could be a poster-child for Flow. I’d love to hear more about her history and how she practices. Her musical companions, who also seem to be around 10-12, are also pretty amazing musicians. Anybody see the Smithsonian documentary on her? I think I’ll go check the Smithsonian app right now. Here’s the video of Yeime Arrieta Ramos:

The 10,000-hour Red Herring

You’ve all heard it by now: all the talk and focus on the 10,000 hour “rule,” from people like Malcolm Gladwell, and the researcher who originally published the study with the finding, Anders Ericsson, whose theories are not without opposition in the academic world. If you haven’t heard of this finding by researchers Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Romer yet, it goes like this: it takes 10,000 hours of practice to reach expert-level performance, whether it’s in sports, music, chess, or x-ray diagnostics. But the 10,000-hour rule is a red herring for several reasons.

RIP, Laurie Frink: “Trumpet Mom” for Many Jazz Trumpeters

Ms. Frink passed away July 13 from complications of bile duct cancer. She was 62. The loss of a great teacher is most tragic.

A Blog Supreme posted a nice tribute to Ms. Frink.

Below is a video of the Maria Schneider Orchestra playing Gumba Blue in 2000. Laurie Frink is in the trumpet section along with one of her students, Ingrid Jensen.