Performance Is NOT Perfection!

The dichotomy for musicians, particularly classically trained musicians is that we must strive for perfection, but remember we will never quite make it! Even if you can play a "perfect" performance many times, no one can be perfect all the time (how many times does a baseball player strike out in a season?) The easy availability of recorded/edited music has helped create an unrealistic expectation from performers and audiences when presenting or attending performances. In a recording session, the performer gets several attempts to get the best recording, then, in editing, little glitches can be editied out (wrong notes, out of tune entrances, etc) and enhancements can be added such as reve

What's the rush?

When I attend adjudicated events organized by my local professional music teachers association, I sometimes get the feeling we are training athletes to win a race. If I wanted to watch or listen to a race, I would go to the Kentucky Derby. I do have an appreciation for athleticism, and participate in 5k runs myself, but I think musicians should have a different mission than athletes. Musicians should seek to create and inspire mood, reflection, and understanding of the mind and emotions. Why are so many students playing as fast as they can? Probably because, rightly or wrongly, they and their teachers think they will be rewarded for fast (and loud) playing with a high rating in their evalu

Inspiration for Composition

Years ago, I read an interesting article about the Hopi and their music. Music, historically and universally has had a close connection to the religion of the culture in which it exists. This was true among the Hopi. The medicine man was often also the tribe composer/lead musician, and a spiritual leader. He would meditate and songs would come to him in his meditation. The Hopi belief, according to this article, was that all songs and music already exists, and through meditation they are revealed to us. The composer is in effect, not composing, just relaying what already exists to others. What an interesting idea! While out walking, I have had a musical phrase "pop" in to my head when

Can You Teach Composition?

Short answer, and I WILL be ostracized for saying this, NO! WHAATT???? A composition comes out of the intellect, imagination and emotion of the composer. How do you teach THAT? How can you tell someone else what they are imagining? You can't! But you can teach students techniques of composition, the tonal/rhythymic building blocks of different styles, the creation of mood through not just tone and rhythm, but also timbre, tempo, articulation, range and dynamics. How do you learn these techniques? By playing and listening to the music of others, and analyzing what the composers are doing. For instance, I have always had a strong emotional response to Barber's Adagio for Strings. I sat do

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