A "Practice Detour?" Let me explain...
Have you ever been driving on a familiar route only to be confronted with a “Road Closed: Detour” sign? The last time that happened to me I found myself taking numerous turns through a bewildering maze of rural roads with no sign posts. I had decided to trust that the car in front of me knew how to navigate the detour and that eventually I would emerge at a place I recognized. I kept driving, feeling a little anxious, a little hopeful, determined to forge ahead into parts unknown and uncertain if I would be able to reach my intended destination.
Oddly enough, although I didn’t recognize the roads, I recognized the feelings. That’s exactly what a Practice Detour feels like.
What’s a Practice Detour? It’s that moment when you realize that your practice doesn’t seem to be moving you forward. So you double down, practicing longer with more determined focus. You dust off your practice journal, plan a...
It's Independence Day - for your fingers, that is!
In this video you will learn exactly what finger independence is, why you want it and how to get it.
I share the five practice tips that will help your fingers do what you want them to, the way you want them to.
Plus I walk you through my secret for success with one of the most challenging finger-twisting patterns. (Think Conditioning Exercise No. 5.)
I can do it. Ten more times. Get it right this time. Try it again. Last time. NOOOO!
Practicing is hard. Making progress is hard. Not seeing your progress is frustrating.
You’re an adult. You understand that the results from practice reveal themselves over time. But there is a point where we start to wonder how much time. No matter how grownup we are, it’s that classic kid question, “Are we there yet?”
On one hand, there are times when low stress, regular practice routines are just what we need to keep in shape, to stay connected to our instrument and to enjoy making music.
However, when you are ready to pick up the pace and make some strides forward, you have to commit to hours of grueling practice, gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair, right? Wrong. Really wrong.
Progress is a result of the right kind of practice and the right practice goal. I have created a simple three-question system that will show you how to focus your efforts so you can get there...
What if you could power up your music study by adding one hour (or even one half hour) to your practice each week?
This one hour would help you focus your work, eliminate unnecessary repetition, multiply your practice effectiveness and streamline your path to progress. Plus your next lesson will be a good one.
Sounds like a recipe for harp happiness, doesn’t it?
With results like that, would you consider that one hour to be a worthwhile investment of your time and energy? Ok then, read on…
Do you remember the Wheaties cereal slogan, "Breakfast of Champions?" It's a reminder that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism. It provides the fuel that encourages your body to expend energy and use more calories. This is what makes breakfast especially important if you want to lose weight.
A good breakfast leads you to eat better overall. You are less likely to crave unhealthy snacks and more likely to eat foods with more...
Perfectionism has a bad reputation.
We have heard about all the evils of perfectionism – the frustration, the self-doubt, the endless critiquing.
But is perfectionism the same thing as trying to get your piece correct, trying to make it right and without mistakes?
And if we allow that we can’t achieve perfection, what’s the point in trying? Do we stop practicing at some point and say, “Never mind, it’s good enough?”
More to the point, if even the masters of our instrument don’t feel that they deliver perfect performances, where does that leave the rest of us?
I believe that there is a balancing point, a way to keep that impossibly high standard before us without sacrificing our sanity. I think that we need to work at a place I’m calling the intersection of The Perfect and The Possible.
Imagine yourself standing in a circle. This circle is your musical progress at this point in time. You have some pieces you can play, but you have more...
Mind blowing? Maybe not exactly that, but these ways to practice your etudes will make your practice time much more effective and even more fun. In the video I mention the Etude a Day Challenge, If you want to check it out, you can find it at HarpHappiness.com.
Let me give you the scenario. I was 13 or 14 years old and my friend was on the phone wanting me to go to the movies with her. I was completely resentful of the time I was going to have to spend practicing instead of being able to go to the movies. You might have imagined that I always loved practicing, but my parents usually had to threaten me, even in my early teen years, in order to get me to practice. As far as I was concerned, practice equaled punishment.
Fast forward just a few years and I had figured out where the fun is in practicing. Even though I would occasionally be disappointed at missing time with my friends, I understood the big payoff in practicing. Of course, more of my friends were musicians, too, and had their own practice to do.
But the big attitude change for me happened when I took a different perspective on practice. I redefined what it meant as a concept, for my harp playing and for me personally.
One common definition of...
Do you memorize your music? You should.
Let me be clear. I don’t believe it’s necessary, or even desirable, to memorize every piece you learn or to play all your repertoire from memory. But I do think it’s a good idea to practice your memorization skills. And the best way to do that is…to memorize.
I have written before that memorization is less about remembering than it is about learning. That old phrase about knowing something “by heart” speaks to the essence of memorization done the right way. When you have truly memorized your music, you have learned it so well that it has deep roots inside you. Your knowledge of the music is not superficial, accidental or merely “in your fingers.” It is not just muscle memory. It is more than intellectual understanding. It is visceral.
Many students need to be convinced to try memorizing their music. Those who sightread easily may feel that taking the time to memorize slows down their...
A new piece! There is nothing quite as exciting as that promising and as yet unsullied page.
I have been asked several times lately, “What’s the best way to start a new piece?” And I have given some evasive answers, saying that it depends on the piece and the player. While that is certainly true, I do have some “best practices” (and one you should avoid!) that will help you get off to a good start with any new piece.
Why not just dive right in and tackle those notes?
Because when you use a more systematic approach, you learn much more than the notes. You learn by using the musical skill, experience and knowledge you have already developed in a way that will help you see the big picture and practice with the end result already in your ear. You will be learning the music, not just pedals or levers and fingering.
And there are more benefits including fewer “practiced-in” errors, faster hands together learning, greater focus and improved...
Creativity is not something we generally associate with music practice. Our practice is more often about repetition and correction than about exploration and discovery.
Many music students don’t think of themselves as being “creative” in their music. They follow instructions, striving to become more proficient, to improve and to play well. Creativity is something reserved for people who compose and improvise, not for those who merely practice.
But you don't have to compose to be musically creative. Each of us creates the music we play in a very real way, giving the notes on the page a voice, specifically our voice, infusing it with our personality. I believe it is essential to our musical satisfaction to recognize the creative element in our music-making and to nurture it daily.
You don’t think you can do this? It’s easier than you think.
Consider the engine of a car. It is the very heart of the car, the reason that the car can go wherever...