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Musical Understanding Starts with Key Signatures

Jun 28, 2021
This post was first published on August 3, 2012. Updated on June 28, 2021.

At some point in every music student’s life comes the moment when she must learn all the key signatures. And at some point for every teacher comes the question from that same student: “Why do I have to know them?”

There are some easy reasons that we all give our students. They may need to...

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Listening With Your Third Ear

Sep 24, 2018

Are you listening?

Good, because I want you to hear this: while practice, particularly properly focused practice, is the primary path to progress for any musician, the most important skill you can develop to propel you on that path is listening.

What makes listening so critical to your success?

First, it is your most important tool for identifying errors in your practice. If you don’t...

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Aural Skills: Yes, They Really Matter!

Apr 04, 2016


I won't say I told you so, but...

I was reading a post on one of my favorite music blogs, The Bulletproof Musician, and was so excited to find someone else talking about one of my favorite subjects: aural skills.

The latest post begins by exploring the very real benefits of mental practice, meaning practice away from the instrument. My students have heard me talk about this before.

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Two Ways to Get a Music Conservatory Education

Nov 29, 2015

Concert at the Paris Conservatory, 1843

The music conservatory: a hothouse for nurturing musical talent and an opportunity available to only the select few. For hundreds of years these elite music schools have trained world-class musicians and the tradition continues. The focused atmosphere and the access to instruction from the finest teachers and performers make a conservatory education the...

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Speed Up Your Bass Clef Reading

Nov 23, 2015

Is bass clef slowing you down? It’s something of a mystery to me why bass clef should present a stumbling block to harpists who read treble clef perfectly well.

Perhaps we just put more effort into learning (and teaching!) treble clef and figure that bass clef will get better over time. Or maybe we are so eager to play more music that we don’t spend quite enough time on all the...

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Got Rhythm?

Nov 03, 2014

How is your sense of rhythm? Are you not sure if you have one? rhythm Before we can decide whether you do or don’t, we should get our terms straight.

Let’s look at the building blocks of rhythm:

The Beat

The beat is the basic unit of time. It can be expressed by a particular note value, a quarter note for instance, but essentially it is a duration of time. We experience this time...

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Hello world!

Oct 21, 2014

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

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Are These 3 Things Holding You Back?

Jul 21, 2014

Are you putting the brakes on when you play or practice? Or are you frustrated with slow progress?

A quick story…

One summer when my husband, son and I were vacationing in Europe, we stopped in the Alps to take a ride on a Sommerrodelbahn, a summer version of a toboggan run. After all, what do you do in the Alps in the summer if you don’t have snow?

This particular ride was a long,...

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The Art of Subdivision

Apr 18, 2014

Subdivision of beats is the number one way to keep your inner metronome even and accurate.

How often have you been told by a teacher or a conductor to subdivide the beats? I know I was told more than once when I was a student. Now as a teacher, I find myself giving the same reminder to my students.

What is subdivision, and why is it so necessary?

Each beat is really not the instant the...

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Do You Hate Your Metronome?

Apr 07, 2014

Most of us musicians will admit to a love/hate relationship with our metronome. Its relentless clicking, ticking or beeping reveals our failings. It has no mercy, and it never gets tired. Batteries even seem to last longer in a metronome than in any other electronic device.

So why has the metronome been an essential tool for generations of musicians?

Consider carefully what the metronome does.

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