Pave Your Path to Success: 6 Key Bricks

Jun 19, 2016

What does success mean to you - money, happiness, playing that one amazing piece of music, building your dream house? Whatever your personal definition of success, there is a path to get there, and it's not just hard work.

Think of the metaphors we use for hard work. We put our heads down, our noses to the grindstone, burn the midnight oil. We think of success as the result of grit and...

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Answers to Your FAQs

Jun 12, 2016

Need answers?

One reason I love teaching is being able to help students find solutions for their challenges. I should confess that I am a puzzle-fiend. I love crosswords, cryptic crosswords, sudoku, mystery stories, jigsaw puzzles, you name it, and the harder the better.

So it's only natural for me to apply that puzzle-solving addiction to my teaching. Finding the crux of s student's problem,...

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Pursuing Your Passion? Prepare to Give Up These 5 Things

Jun 05, 2016

Lately it's all about passion. Pursue your passion; follow your dream. Are you just going to pursue it, or do you really want to succeed?  What price are you prepared to pay for the level of success you want?

We know that big dreams require big sacrifice. We see Olympic athletes live apart from their families for months at a time to attend the best training center. They keep strict food,...

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Is it a Mistake or a Symptom?

May 30, 2016

Mistakes are easy to spot. We hear a wrong note, an incorrect accidental or rhythm. We can feel it - it just wasn't right.

But is your mistake simply that - an error - or it is a symptom of a larger problem? And how would you know the difference?

Sometimes a mistake is just a random slip, in the way that sometimes a sneeze is just a random sneeze. But we know that if we start sneezing more...

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Not Getting Things Done? 8 Steps to Making It Happen

May 23, 2016

There's an entire culture built around GTD: Getting Things Done.

In my experience, getting things done is less about productivity and hustle and more about planning, setting realistic expectations and preventing panic. Whether you're worried about learning music or just making it through your busy day, it is possible to make progress on the things that matter to you as long as you don't let the...

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Gounod's Ave Maria

May 15, 2016

Charles Gounod

(1818-1893)

"My mother wants the Ave Maria played. Does it work on the harp?" asks the bride-to-be.

So, I play her a few bars of the famous Schubert song.

"No, that's not it," says the bride.

"Oh, you mean the other Ave Maria," and I play her a few bars. Happy bride, happy harpist.

It's the other Ave Maria, the melody that composer Charles Gounod wrote as an embellishment...

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Everyday Practice Mistakes: Change Them Today!

May 08, 2016

Is there anything you should change about your practice?

Our daily practice is our path to progress. It's how we develop mastery of our instrument and increase our understanding of music in general.

Shinichi Suzuki's famous quote,"Practice only on the days you eat," illustrates so vividly the importance of making practice a daily routine.

But anything we do every day can become so routine that...

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How to Discover Your Musical Signature

May 01, 2016

What is your musical signature? Maybe you've never given it any thought, but I can assure you that you have one. So how do you find it, or refine, or even define it?

Handwritten signatures are special. I remember practicing mine when I was a teenager, mostly when I was doodling during class. What did I want it to look like? I experimented with slanting my letters to the right and to the left,...

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Resolving Everyday Dissonance, Musical or Otherwise

Apr 25, 2016

 Augmented Fourth

Musical dissonance occurs when two notes played simultaneously have a clash of wills. The notes just don’t play well together. The interval shown here is the classic example of a dissonant interval: an augmented fourth, a tritone.

Hundreds of years ago, dissonance was essentially prohibited in music. The perceived conflict between tones was held to be incompatible...

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5 Things Your Desert Island Composer Can Teach You

Apr 18, 2016

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have with you the music of only one composer, whose music would you pick?

It’s an old question, and one I almost always find difficult to answer. I love so much music, it is almost impossible to narrow my choices to one. But inevitably, my thoughts do circle back around to one composer: Johann Sebastian Bach.

On a recent trip to Germany, I...

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