Competitiveness – Dealing with the Dark Side

Nov 14, 2012

Being competitive is a good thing. Competitiveness helps us try harder and bring our best effort to a performance. Competition is how we test ourselves and find our place in our particular arena.

But competitiveness has a dark side. Remember Tonya Harding? That’s an extreme example, certainly, but it shows how the desire to win can completely cloud a person’s perspective. Even...

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Sonata Scintillante by Chuck Holdeman

Nov 07, 2012

Chuck Holdeman

On Sunday, November 11, flutist Joan Sparks and I will be performing a new work, Sonata Scintillante by Chuck Holdeman. We commissioned this work and premiered it at the University of Delaware on February 21, 2012.  This post is about this exciting new piece, and includes notes about the work from the composer as well as some video links. If you would like to attend the...

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Perfection, Productivity and Performance

Nov 05, 2012

The world doesn’t reward perfection. It rewards productivity.” – Peter Bregman, author of  18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done

I imagine something like this has happened to you, as it has to me: You have heard a great concert, a performance that moved you and inspired you. You rush to greet the players afterward to...

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Five Minutes a Day Can Grow Your Musicianship

Nov 02, 2012

© allapen – Fotolia.com

Musicianship:knowledge, skill, and artistic sensitivity in performing music. (from Dicitionary.com)

It’s easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself.  –  J. S. Bach

Musicianship may have been that easy for Bach, but for most of...

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Prepare for College Audition Success

Nov 01, 2012

Each year at the University of Delaware, I hear auditions of prospective university harp students, young harpists with big hopes and dreams for their futures, varying cases of nervousness and in very different stages of preparation.  Allowing for the fact that everyone gets nervous and bad days happen to us all from time to time, there are a few things any student preparing for...

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Is Deep Breathing Part of Your Routine?

Oct 26, 2012

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, (b. 1926) Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist

“Take a deep breath,” has always been good advice, but now there is evidence that deep breathing can alleviate performance anxiety. Although I didn’t need the study to tell me what I found out years ago.

Over 25 years ago, flutist Joan Sparks and I founded...

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Is Classical Music Doomed?

Oct 24, 2012

Can classical music survive in a world where orchestras fail and concert attendance dwindles?

Two dismaying things happened to me this weekend. The first came in a casual conversation, in which two people attempted to persuade me that classical music and attending concerts is a high-brow, elite and upper class thing. Every fiber of my being resists this idea, but the nagging fact persists that...

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How to Phrase by the Numbers

Oct 22, 2012

Marcel Tabuteau, 1951

This post follows up on a previous post about phrasing. Here I describe what is arguably the best system for teaching phrasing I ever came across, and how you can practice to make your phrasing more meaningful and expressive.

When I was a student at Curtis, I learned from my wind player friends about the amazing technique for phrasing and legato they were...

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How to Phrase, or It’s All in the Phrasing!

Oct 17, 2012

“I don’t need words — it’s all in the phrasing.” – Louis Armstrong

 

 

How to phrase in music can be difficult to talk about and to teach. I would like to share three things you should know about phrasing, along with some practice tips to improve your phrasing.

1. Phrasing is inflection. Inflection is what makes the meaning of...

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Stuck in a Rut? Change One Thing

Oct 12, 2012

Today’s fast pace and shorter attention spans make it easier than ever to feel stuck in a rut. Within a week after we return from a vacation, we can find ourselves feeling uninspired, unmotivated and dull. Building on an idea from a previous post on this blog (Move That Mountain – Do One Thing),  I would like to offer this suggestion: change one thing.

When I was...

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