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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

February 2014 Newsletter

“When we generate positive emotions, we ignite creativity.”

The February 2014 issue of The Musician’s Way Newsletter coalesces more than 20 resources for performers, educators, and arts administrators.

You’ll find articles about boosting creativity, enhancing music practice, navigating the music business, and much more. Continue Reading

Scheduling Practice Sessions

“Your artistic evolution is best served by steady, judicious practice.”
-The Musician’s Way, p. 11

Consistent practice empowers us to become the artists we aspire to be.

But skillful practice doesn’t just happen – we have to learn how to practice effectively.

The most fundamental thing we need to grasp is how to manage our time, so here are 5 guidelines that help musicians use their practice time wisely. Continue Reading

10 Affirmations that Energize Music Practice

Claudio Arrau

“I think it’s beautiful to practice. I love to practice.”
-Claudio Arrau, pianist*

To be a musician is to be someone who practices.

Day after day, we musicians work in solitude to learn new repertoire, refine old repertoire, and polish our skills.

Most performers also rehearse with others, applying their solitary efforts in groups large and small.

The demands of daily practice prove too much for some aspiring artists, but affirmations can powerfully fuel any artist’s drive to work. Continue Reading

Choosing Repertoire

Photo of Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington

“The wise musicians are those who play what they can master.”
-Duke Ellington (The Musician’s Way, p. 14)

We veteran musicians know that our creativity blossoms when we perform music that fits our style and technique.

Students, though, often attempt to perform repertoire that’s beyond their reach, resulting in anxiety, disappointment, and even injury.

To help performers make wise repertoire choices, I’ve identified three selection criteria, all of which I expand on in The Musician’s Way. Continue Reading

Communicating with Teachers

Photo of violin teacher and student“Establish an honest dialogue with your teacher.”
-Wynton Marsalis (The Musician’s Way, p. 293)

The academic year has begun, and legions of music students are starting lessons with new teachers.

The following guidelines, adapted from Chapter 14 of The Musician’s Way, help students get more out of lessons by boosting their ability to communicate with and learn from teachers. Continue Reading

Safely Increasing Practice Time

Musicians Practicing in a Classical Ensemble“Nearly all musicians’ injuries are preventable.”
The Musician’s Way, p. 230

The academic year is getting underway, and millions of music students will dive into intense practice schedules.

That fresh start, though, comes with a high risk of injury. Continue Reading

Increasing Tempo in Practice

“To escalate the tempo of newly learned material, you first have to reduce the effort required to play or sing it at your initial tempo.”
The Musician’s Way, p. 73

Some of the thorniest challenges we encounter in practice surround increasing the tempos of newly learned pieces.

All too often, we start off slowly but then hit barriers as we hike our speed. Continue Reading