Blog Retreat 2018! About Anne Performance Calendar CDs Etude a Day Your Way Kaleidoscope Practice Sheet Music Contact LOG INTO HARP HAPPINESS

LEARN LIVE

Blog Archive

 

Fourth finger giving you problems? Five quick tips…

practicing technique Sep 27, 2013

Often a harpist’s fourth finger is a matter for concern. Or rather, it isn’t a matter for concern until all of a sudden we need to use it.

It’s easy to get by using only three fingers a lot of the time. Even intermediate repertoire doesn’t call for much fourth finger work, and in my experience, students tend to avoid using it.

It isn’t that we don’t train the fourth finger. It’s simply that we often don’t really take the time to develop it, or even simply use it as much as the others.

How can you tell if your fourth finger is up to snuff? If the crossunders in your multi-octave scales and arpeggios are smooth and without bumps, they probably are fine. But if those crossunders slow you down and make you stumble, and all of us stumble at times, then these quick tips could help those reluctant fingers.

1. Play your scales and arpeggios slowly and softly, making sure that your fourth finger is relaxed, curved and correct. Think of this as...

Continue Reading...

Three Lessons from 32 Metronomes

This metronome video came my way on Facebook recently. If you haven’t seen it, it is amazing and beautiful, not usually words I apply to metronomes. And as I watched the video a second time, I was struck by some powerful principles it illustrated, truths for all musicians and all non-musicians too.

Here is the link to whole page; it’s worth reading!

1. Flexibility allows for consensus. In the video, the movement of the platform allowed the metronomes to align. If they had been on a rigid base, they would never have arrived at a single tempo. Chamber musicians often talk about “arriving” at an interpretation or a tempo agreeable to all in the group. They arrive at this consensus through repetition and exploration, and most of all through being flexible in their ideas. Without flexibility and willingness to adapt, a consensus would not be possible.

2. Surrender of self-interest can create a greater good without losing anything.  Has this...

Continue Reading...

The Three Necessary Stages: Stage Two: Conscious Memorization

        © Yong Hian Lim – Fotolia.com

In a previous post I wrote about rote memorization, the repetitive process that can be summed up in the words “strong” and “long.” If you are “strong” in your repetition, meaning you repeat something correctly every time in practice, the chances that you will repeat it correctly on demand are also “strong.” And if you repeat it correctly over a “long” time, your memory of it will be “long” lasting.

Rote learning is all about repetition over time, and developing a habit. If you have ever stopped in the middle of piece you had memorized and needed to go back to beginning to resume playing, you have experienced the fatal flaw in rote memorization.

Step 2 in the process solves that problem by making memorization a conscious activity. Conscious memorization is about observation, attention and commitment.

In this stage of memorization, we increase...

Continue Reading...

Top 10 Reasons Every Musician Should Practice Bach

I would find it difficult to pick one composer to call my favorite. I love the way Mozart’s music glistens and the intensity of Tchaikovsky. I can get lost in the emotion of Ravel and revel in the clarity of John Field. But on most days, if I had to pick just one, I would pick Johann Sebastian Bach.

I never tire of listening to his music, to the mind-bending complexity of a fugue or the overwhelming emotion in a slow movement. Or the ingenious voicing of a chorale. Or the breadth of the St. Matthew Passion.

And I never tire of playing his music either. Yes, I know he never wrote for harp, but I wouldn’t want to be banned from playing his music on that kind of technicality. There’s so much I learn from his music whenever I attempt to play it.

And here are my top ten reasons that I think you should put some Bach in your practice rotation:

10. It’s been transcribed for every instrument, so you have no excuse. Here’s banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck’s...

Continue Reading...

Why Your Practice May Be Holding You Back

musicianship practicing Sep 18, 2013

Here’s a radical thought – don’t practice so well.But wait! Isn’t careful practice what I am supposed to do, so I can play well, with a solid technique and mostly all the right notes?

The answer is of course, unless that’s the ONLY way you practice. Careful practice can be a trap. If our only focus is trying to play correctly, we will never learn to play much.

An example: My mother’s aunt, Aunt Floss, took piano lessons as a child. But her lessons didn’t leave her a life-long ability to play the piano. As an adult, she could only play one piece, “The Black Hawk Waltz.” I remember many family gatherings when she would sit down to play “her piece.” It was never a polished performance, and as the years went by, she lost more and more of the piece until finally she couldn’t even remember how it started.

An different example: Pablo Picasso the Spanish cubist painter lived into his nineties, and was quoted as saying,...

Continue Reading...

Taking Music Lessons? The Three Questions You MUST Ask Your Teacher

Lessons are not given, they are taken.
Cesare Pavese, Italian author and poet (1908-1950)
                                                    © polydsign – Fotolia.com

First, the facts.

1. Music lessons are foundational. Your teacher will help you develop the essential points of technique and musicianship and lead you through standard repertoire for your instrument.

2. Music lessons are inspirational. Your teacher can help motivate you to practice. She can introduce you to musical masterworks and artists whose work you may not have otherwise known. He can open a new world of musical experience to you.

3. Music lessons are expensive. Yep. So you want to be sure you get your money’s worth. You may love your teacher and be making good progress. But by asking these three questions below, you can be certain that you are getting...

Continue Reading...

Nervous? 3 ways to stop focusing on performing and start playing

musicianship performing Sep 13, 2013

 Being nervous is a terrible feeling. It can be physically debilitating, with symptoms from cold, clammy hands to nausea and beyond. But by far, the worst damage that nervousness causes is the psychological. We worry about how our nervousness will sabotage our well-prepared and carefully practiced performance. And in the extreme, it can prevent us from performing at all.

When I was a child, my mother and I were both taking piano lessons from the same teacher, and we were both participating in the end-of-the-year student recital. My mother went up to the piano to play, sat down and stared at the keyboard. I remember watching as she stood back up, muttered an apology and ran off the stage before anyone could see her start to cry. She was simply too nervous to play the piece she had prepared all year.

Sometimes the level of anticipation inside ourselves is so high that all we can see is the act of performing. The anxiety is much less when we can focus on the activity, the...

Continue Reading...

Music for an American Triumph Over Tragedy

music miscellany Sep 11, 2013

I do not choose to recognize September 11 as a day of mourning any longer. We remember those we lost and grieve their passing. But we as a nation, true to our history, have overcome. We remember but we survive. We mourn but we continue. We honor and we rebuild.

Today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite music. It is music expressive of our country and our people , and I find it fitting for today.

First is Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From the New World.” Written by a Czech composer and written while in this country, it was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and premiered in 1893. Although Dvorak insisted the symphony contained no actual native American music, he may not have realized how well the symphony reflects the quintessential American melting pot concept.

In a 1956 analysis of the symphony, Leonard Bernstein discusses the multiple musical influences in the work. And here is an interesting comparison of various recordings.

It is one...

Continue Reading...

The Three Necessary Stages of Memorization, Part 1

musicianship practicing Sep 09, 2013

It is easy to know when we don’t have a piece memorized. It is more difficult to know when a piece is “ready” to be performed from memory.Memorization is a process, and one that requires time and effort. It is not simply practicing a piece until                                                                                                                 © Yong Hian Lim – Fotolia.com

you don’t have to look at the music. It is a gradual absorbing of every aspect of the piece, a deep and fundamental understanding of its message, its language and its techniques.

You don’t have to be a musical genius to memorize well. And you don’t have to have a great...

Continue Reading...

What to Do When Frustration Threatens Your Success

 

 

 

 

From time to time, we all experience what I call “potentially terminal frustration.” This is the kind of deep frustration that causes us either to give up and walk away or break through and achieve.

The barriers can seem insurmountable. Consider what used to be considered impossible: breaking the sound barrier, running a four-minute mile, a decent frozen dinner.

At those moments of crisis there is almost always a choice, whether we see it or not. When it most seems like we are out of options, we are actually standing at a fork in our road. The way we frame our internal questions can be the determining factor between moving forward and moving on.

1. Understand the real enemy. The powerful force called Resistance is the biggest enemy anyone faces when they try to achieve. You can imagine it as an internal barrier of your own construction, but it can also be seen as an invisible cosmic force dedicated to keeping you from success. Stephen...

Continue Reading...
Close

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.