Liked: Work Ethic

Talent is important and plays a role in musical success, but in my opinion, work ethic plays a larger role. Without a consistent work ethic even the most talented student won’t succeed. There will be a place in the world of music for a student who has a “fire in the belly” and the work ethic to back it up.

I love the following quote by Tchaikosvsky:

We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavouring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.

The quote is specifically about composition but could applied to any worthy endeavor. Read more in the full article.

Liked: Top 20 Reasons for Using A Metronome

Here is an article giving the The Top 20 Reasons to use a Metronome. I didn’t really know how to practice until I learned how to practice with a metronome. Here are some of the points from the article that I agree with most:

  • It improves your rhythm
  • It makes your practicing more consistent
  • It forces you to listen to something other than your own playing
  • It’s a qualitative way to track your improvement over time
  • It makes you aware of timing issues throughout the song
  • It simplifies challenging rhythms
  • It keeps you from slowing down when you play quiet sections in your song
  • It keeps you from speeding up during loud sections in your song
  • It makes you confident

I love the Dr. Beat metronome. It is loud enough for group practice sessions and easy to add subdivisions, which is vital to practicing with a metronome. I used mine so much that the play/pause button no longer works. I now use an app on my iPhone for all of my metronome practice. It isn’t as loud as my Dr. Beat, but it is loud enough for personal practice. It has subdivisions and also playlists, so I can setup my warmup routine playlist and my favorite tempos are just a finger tap away. The app is Tempo Advance by Frozen Ape software. Many iPhone app metronomes do not keep a steady pulse. I tried many of them and found Tempo Advance to be the most reliable.

Liked: Is Slow Practice Really Necessary

Learning how to practice is even more important than putting in long practice sessions. Practicing consistently, at least two hours per day, is important, but how we use those hours is even more important. Many of us are impatient and resist practicing slowly. Performance psychologist and Juilliard faculty member, Dr. Noa Kageyama, addresses the importance of practicing slowly.

So why don’t we do more slow practice? It’s not because we’re lazy; I think it’s just a big misunderstanding. 1. We are too concerned with the outcome, not the process. 2. We don’t practice slowly enough.

Check out the full article for ways to make your practicing even more effective.

Liked: Rico Reed Factory Tour

Last year, I was able to go to Burbank California and take a tour of the Rico Reed Factory. Since Rico was bought out by D'Addario several years ago, the company has been a hotbed of innovation. I have been playing Rico Reserve Classic reeds for the past three years and have been impressed with their quality and consistency. Before this time, I was a devoted Vandoren player and before that I made my own reeds. The Curious Clarinetist has a blog post describing his own visit to the Rico Factory. It is really well done with great pictures and a video of the reed making process. This post matches closely my experience in visiting the Rico Factory. It is a great “reed” that you should click through to check out. :)

The tour was amazing and so were the people I met there. They are such incredibly passionate people who care about their craft deeply and are constantly looking to produce better products. It was inspiring and fascinating to see what it takes to produce that little piece of cane which is absolutely necessary to everything we do as clarinetists.


Liked: Never Mind Talent: Practice, Practice, Practice

Karen Rile, University of Pennsylvania, writes the following about the value of learning how to practice.

In our culture, we have romantic notions of the artist as a formidable, congenital genius. Obsessive focus on talent alone creates a hobbling anxiety of failure. How many of us are discouraged from trying because we were told we are “tone deaf” or “can’t draw a straight line”? So forget about talent. If I had a nickel for every parent who told me her own kid was a “natural” at music, dance, or whatever, but never got anywhere because he didn’t like to practice, I could take everybody out for lunch. Teach your kids to practice. Practice something difficult and complex, where the rewards come slowly over time. And it doesn’t matter if they’re naturals; the lesson’s more profound when they are not.

I have always said that I would rather teach a student who knows how to work and is disciplined than another student who has a lot of talent but is lazy. Read more in the full article.