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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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Move That Mountain – Do One Thing

Oct 10, 2012

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Sometimes we have a task before us that seems to much to tackle. All we see is a big mountain of work and we don’t know where to start. The secret to creating momentum and getting the job done is simple and only one step – you just need to do one thing.

The inspiration for this came from a blog post by author and thought leader Seth...

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No Time for Music Theory in a Lesson? Try Telescope Teaching!

Oct 05, 2012

 

When I was a student, I used to think a one-hour lesson was long. When I started teaching, though, I realized that there was much more work to be done than would fit in sixty minutes.  Often I spent lesson time helping the student practice when I wanted to help them learn larger musical concepts.  There is so much more to teach  besides just  notes. That’s why I...
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The Five-minute “Anti-Stress” Daily Technique Boost

Oct 03, 2012

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It sounds delightful, boosting your technique in just five minutes with no stress. When you think of any of the famous exercise or etude books that you may have studied, one image probably comes to mind: a dark page full of ink representing a lot of notes, notes in finger-bending combinations to be performed at lightning speed. And though I know that...

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Harpist DOs and DON’Ts

Oct 01, 2012

You’ve heard the expression “I don’t do…whatever.” Well, harpists have their own special do’s and don’ts, things we can or can’t do because we play the harp. We have peculiar ways of looking at the world and music. Here are a couple of examples:

We DO ramps. We DON’T do spiral staircases.

We DO Tchaikovsky. We DON’T do Beethoven. (If...

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Waltz of the Flowers Cadenza–Jumpstart Your Practice

Sep 28, 2012

This is a re-post of a podcast interview I did last year with Mindy Cutcher, principal harpist of the Pennsylvania Ballet. Mindy speaks about playing for the ballet and specifically the famous “Waltz of the Flowers” cadenza in The Nutcracker. She shares her thoughts and tips on learning and performing the cadenza, as well as some great anecdotes from the pit.

You can listen to the...

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