A Lick a Day: Soundslice Serves it Up!

Learning licks from someone on an instrument different from yours is a great idea, because is exposes limitations of your instrument, but also exposes patterns on your instrument that can be changed or broken, in a good way. Say, learn Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday melodies on your instrument, or check out these short licks…

Two-Year-Old Rapper: In the Flow, Laying It Down Like a Boss

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.

Do YOU Know the Muffin Man? Imitation in Music Practice

Jimmy Fallon and Adam Levine of Maroon 5, spar in a hilarious (and impressive!) with musical impressions of Frank Sinatra (Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes), Bob Dylan (Rude), Michael Jackson (Sesame Street Theme Song), Iggy Azalea (Old MacDonald Had a Farm), and Eddie Vedder (The Muffin Man). All serious musicians do it on the road to getting better. Find great tools to imitate below….

Go Go Gadget Practice

Bach once said of his prodigious keyboard skills something like, “There’s nothing to it; you just push the right key at the right time and the instrument plays itself.”

Do you think somebody who merely pushes a button to make music a musician? See the hilarious video below for a negative example, and the following one for a wonderfully positive example.

The important thing with gadgetry is the willful interaction with sound, not the motor ability. Yes, there are varied levels of physical engagement with the sound-producing device, but again, that’s not the point.

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.

SoundSlice: YouTube Learning Goodness

If you’re like me, you get a lot of learning done on YouTube, but isolating a passage and repeating it, let alone notating it in some way, is difficult if not impossible. Not any more! Check out SoundSlice.

SoundSlice is a fantastically useful tool geared towards guitarists, but it’s useful for anybody who learns by watching video. Adrian’s done many cool things as a programmer (check his site), and has an album out of his most popular fingerstyle tunes here, most of which you can also find on SoundSlice, like the Beatles tune, Yesterday. Check out the link to Yesterday for a good example of how the site works.

Festive Overture by Shostakovich: Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, 2009

Here’s a YouTube gem: Festive Overture, written by Dmitri Shostakovich in 3 days! Premiered in 1954. All artists are a mash-up of their influences, and we all steal from each other to make new creations. This piece Shostakovich based on a piece from Glinka 100 years earlier (Russlan and Ludmilla).

Stop! Hey, What’s that Sound?

The more musicians I speak to about practice in preparation for the new book, the more I’m reminded how extremely important listening is to one’s music. In fact, there’s some evidence in published research that all this time spent listening gives us musicians more ability to pull sound out of noisy environments (link to study)….

OK-GO for the Win

What do you get when you mashup Blue Man Group with Inspector Gadget and Nascar? Probably something like OK-GO’s new romp of a video for their tune Needing/Getting.
What I love about this video is taking the idea of the size of an instrument to an absurd and wonderful extreme. It’s also a great way to visualize the form of a piece of music, since you can actually see instead of “just” hear where the form repeats. And the question I have is: how the heck do you practice that instrument?

Colin Oldberg: Principal Trumpet, Hong Kong Symphony Orchestra

Colin Oldberg is a stellar musician. He plays principal trumpet for the Hong Kong Symphony Orchestra and is a founding member of Axiom Brass, a brass quintet out of Chicago. Colin has toured with the Chicago Symphony and earned a spot in the first YouTube Orchestra. He was gracious to talk about his own experience with practice for over an hour. Thanks, Colin!

Opening excerpt: The Axiom Brass Quintet: Colin Oldberg, trumpet; Dorival Puccini, Jr., trumpet; Matthew Oliphant, horn; Kevin Harrison, tuba; Brett Johnson, trombone.

here’s the mp3 of Wapango, one third of Pacquito D’Rivera’s Three Pieces for Brass Quintet, courtesy of Axiom Brass Quintet. If you like it, support these fantastic artists and buy the whole CD or mp3. It’s great stuff! Go see Axiom Brass live, too, for an even better musical experience.

Colin Oldberg: Principal Trumpet, Hong Kong Phil.

Colin Oldberg is an excellent player who has played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and earned a spot on the first YouTube Orchestra and has played Carnegie hall twice. He’s also part of a fantastic brass quintet, Axiom Brass. There’s a link to the full length mp3 of the excerpt from the beginning of the show. Colin talks about practice.