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Showing posts from August, 2009

Putting In the Hours

I am a huge proponent of focused, efficient practice - the kind where in 20 minutes you can really solve problems and learn what you need to learn and move on with your day. I talk about that kind of practicing a lot when I teach, because no one ever has the time to actually do all the practicing in the world. But what is often overlooked in this conversation about directed practicing is the technique of just plain putting in the hours, and there is really no substitute for this.

I can learn the notes of a piece in a few minutes, to the level of not making audible mistakes in the orchestra. I can plan the phrasing of my solos in just a few minutes more, and sound like a smart and well-prepared musician. But what I can't do in just a few minutes is build up the strength and endurance of my embouchure, and have perfect control over my attacks and releases, and have the confidence that comes with a strong base of hard work under me. There's a comfort level on the instrument t…

We Do What We Can - What Can We Do?

There's a difference between listening to your body and just being lazy, but it's a fine line. I've dealt with this in my running time and again - and misled myself both ways. I've persevered through aches that became injuries and took me off the street for weeks, and I've also slid down the slippery slope which starts out with feeling tired and groggy and deciding to forgo my run that day, proceeds through being too involved in my book (or coffee, or journal) to go right then, and ends with having gone 2 weeks without exercising.

I'm coming back to running now after the birth of my daughter, and it's hard to know how much I can push myself without being just plain stupid. I'm dying to walk out the door and slip effortlessly into my old pace and let the miles roll away under my feet, but I can't actually do that yet. I'm taking walk breaks, and building my mileage slowly, and being smart, and still I feel this strong disconnect between what …

Zoe Loves Music

Zoe loves music. She loves classical music, which is not too surprising as that's the music she heard for nine months in utero. But she also loves alternative rock, classic rock, and country - just about anything, actually, as long as it's LOUD.

Now, this is a big change for me. Although I am a professional musician, I rarely listen to music. When I'm not working I am comfortable in silence; perhaps because I'm constantly being swept away by the sound of the orchestra at work I prefer to relax in peace and quiet. But now, with Zoe - who is four weeks old as I write this - I am rediscovering the music I used to love. She sits up (figuratively) and pays attention (literally) and likes to "dance" and to hear me singing along. And more to the point, she stops crying!

So I am now becoming the person who listens to music at home - and I love that person. I find that I'm singing all the time - that's not so unusual for me, but singing songs instead …