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Divergent Thinking in Practice

Photo of violinist practicing“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”
-Charles Mingus, bassist (The Musician’s Way, p. 55)

Musical problem-solving requires creative thinking, yet the style of thinking that’s commonly taught in schools may not serve our needs in the practice room.

That is, a subject such as basic math nurtures convergent thinking that zeroes in on single solutions. Trouble is, such reasoning works only with linear problems, where one correct answer exists. Continue Reading

Keeping Practice in Mind

Closeup image of classical guitar“Create meaning in everything that you practice.”
The Musician’s Way, p. 312

Have you ever started a practice session and felt that your musical abilities were out of alignment?

Maybe your mind was restless, your control tenuous, or your tone iffy.

It’s easy for us to get misaligned, but the following techniques help us be ready to practice effectively anytime. Continue Reading

Handling Criticism in Rehearsals

Image of two violinists rehearsing together“Wise artists seek out critical evaluations.”
The Musician’s Way, p. 297

Musical collaborators come together out of a shared passion for music, and intense feelings about art can stir up ardent criticisms.

How can we harmonize the critical give-and-take that’s integral to working in groups? Continue Reading

When Every Note Vibrates with Life

“Whatever music you play or sing, your objective is to express musical ideas, not spew out notes.”
The Musician’s Way, p. 24

Accomplished musicians bring vibrancy to every sound they make – there’s an emotional power to their music that captivates listeners.

Student performers, by comparison, often come across as bland. They may focus on mechanical execution instead of expressing the emotions in each phrase. Continue Reading

Starting Practice with Intention

“Leaving your troubles behind, enter the exquisite realm of music making.”
The Musician’s Way, p. 6

The beginnings of practice sessions set in motion everything that follows.

When we start with clear intentions, we accomplish more in the shortest time.

Here are ideas for launching each practice session with optimal focus. Continue Reading

April 2014 Newsletter

“Confident performance is not a fluke, but the product of imaginative and consistent synthesis of technical and emotional work.”
-Frank R. Wilson (The Musician’s Way), p. 146

The April 2014 edition of The Musician’s Way Newsletter has landed in subscribers’ inboxes and is being shared across the Web.

This new issue brings together 20 articles and resources geared to performers, educators, students and music lovers alike. Continue Reading

The Number-One Motivator of Music Practice

Photo of two hands playing a piano keyboard“With a commitment on your calendar, your practice becomes targeted toward an exhilarating purpose.”
The Musician’s Way, p. 108

Some musicians relish daily practice; others struggle to work consistently.

Whatever our relationship with practice might be, there’s one thing that will motivate us to practice intensely: an upcoming performance.

Continue Reading

Committing to the Creative Process

“Being a musician isn’t about pursuing some nirvana of artistic enlightenment; it’s about endless refinement and discovery.”
The Musician’s Way, p. 110

This blog and The Musician’s Way book explore diverse strategies to practice deeply and efficiently.

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve taken in bundles of information, so it would be reasonable to ask, “What’s the best way to absorb all of these concepts?” Continue Reading

5 Benefits of Self-Recording

Zoom H4n digital audio recorder“Keen self-listening is central to musical excellence.”
The Musician’s Way, p. 16

Without the ability to hear ourselves precisely, we can’t perform to professional standards nor solve problems in practice.

Fortunately, today’s digital recorders empower musicians to appraise their work accurately and objectively.

This post sums up five main benefits of self-recording and highlights some of the best digital recorders on the market. Continue Reading

Bringing Joy to Practice

Image of young woman playing the cello“One must approach music with a serious rigor and, at the same time, with a great, affectionate joy.”
–Nadia Boulanger, composer & pianist (The Musician’s Way, p. 292)

How we sound in performance is a direct result of how we practice.

So even though practice entails focused work, it’s crucial that we permeate our work with joy.

The following 4 habits help us infuse practice with bountiful spirit. Continue Reading