Tips for Classical Musicians

Month: August 2012

5 Motivational Tips for Musicians

How awesome would it be if you could lay on a couch to watch Family Guy for hours?

If you ask me, I would tell you

that is 100% awesome

and probably the best hobby/activity/marathon ever invented by the human race.

Well, I’m 26 years old, just finished my master’s in music performance and I’m not married, yet. I don’t have to support anybody but me. The truth is that I could probably do those marathons for as much as 4 days straight, no problem.

Actually, I think I’ve done it once or twice.

Although I am not completely ashamed (just a little), I can explain

why!

It’s so damn hard to open my case and play one scale.

For what! I’ve been playing scales since I know myself.

Boring stuff to enhance a technique that doesn’t seem to be enhancing or that it will ever be enhanced.

It happens to all of us! ( I hope so! )

If you are like me, you feel really bad after those marathons because you were not productive.

Don Juan could’ve been perfect by now, Mozart No.4 should’ve been the cleanest of all time—but you chose to watch Family Guy!

How awful! Shame on you! 🙂

heh, it’s ok! It won’t happen again right?

SURE!!!!

If you want to avoid a moment of regret after a 4-day-marathon, here are some tips that can help motivate the musician inside you and start doing NOW!

I’ve said it before but it needs to be said again; Often, the hardest part is to get started. So,go crazy! sit down for a minute and think ‘‘in 1 minute I will start running to open my case and do 1 scale”. I tell you, just that keeps me hooked for the rest of the day.
Exercise first thing in the morning. The benefits are incredible and a lot, your mind will be clear and your energies all boosted, ready to hit the practice room.
While you watch Family Guy, bring your sheet music with you. Play the passages mentally on commercials. It could get you going after that episode 😉 .
Sit down with full score in hand and your favorite recording. Learn from it and study it with your heart.
Eat fruits and hydrate well. They will keep you healthy and happy—2 vital elements to practice with your whole senses.
Now that you know what to do pick one and try it out.

Carol

August 31, 2012     0 Comments   , , ,

What Does it Take To Be A Soloist ?

You know them. You venerate them. They are the whole inspiration and possibly the reason why you play an instrument.

If you are a young musician, chances are that you have a favorite player, usually a famous soloist. On the other side, if you are a veteran, you know how the business works, the good and bad things of a solo career as well as the ups and downs of an orchestral career.

Either way, a world-class soloist is always a person we all admire. We look up to them whether we admit it or not. They have been there for you since the beginning. You know, that time where you picked up the instrument for the first time.

For some reason musicians and colleagues of mine, always try to find a bad habit or gossip or something to hurt the soloist’s reputation in any way.

Soloists equals high level of achievement in many forms—they must dominate not only the technical part but things like marketing, psychological behavior, people skills, concentration, perseverance, endurance, self improvement, etc.

That exactly is what we all look for—a total immersion of our person/musician that develops into a complete professional. (This guide can help you achieve that)

We often associate success with traveling, big audiences, and strong presence among the classical music community.

But being a soloist is way more than we think it is…

It’s like being an astronaut. You go to space and work orbiting earth—or somewhere else. You are privilege enough to have the first words ever spoken on that surface and the whole world looks up—you are “in the spot”.

What we don’t realize is, perhaps, that astronauts have hundreds of people backing up their projects and helping the crew succeed from earth (the orchestra). They couldn’t have landed on the new world without that backup from earth.

Astronauts are the most visible members of the whole operation but not the only ones—and because of that, their failures are more exposed to the world. They become more vulnerable.

Yeah, you may be famous and perhaps able to send greetings to your family from a new world, but if an oxygen hose breaks up there by accident, who is going to be in trouble?

Not me, I’m safely on earth telling you what to do from an air conditioned office.

Same thing happens with soloists—they have to go through many stages, all exposing great deal of delicate matter. Their lives are part of a beautiful journey that “maintaining a status” becomes the ingredient that separates them from everybody else.

If a renowned soloist play less than expected, social media will take care of the rest. You and me will find out and their reputation will change their status.

I believe soloists earn their position in this game.

That is why I admire Joshua Bell. The whole world talks crap about him and he knows it, nevertheless, he remains intact. He maintains a status and has a very unique way of selling his product—watch him playing 😉 and you’ll see.

(Read this blog post “Why I Think Joshua Bell is Successful”)

As if it wasn’t enough already, soloists have to deal with jetlag, cultures, languages and food. You can probably imagine what the term “family” means to them—a world-class soloist is on the road 85% of the year.

These are some of the disadvantages soloists confront. Of course I didn’t mention the advantages because we all know them.

Having a close look at these points can help us understand what soloists are made of—the unavoidable exposure that puts them on the “spotlight” and the small details that makes them human beings.

I’m no expert on the subject or even close but I’ve work with many of them and seen them in action. What I can tell is that whether they are on their best shape of their career or not, world-class soloists will always join us (spiritually)(death or alive) and inspired us to do better and keep growing as professional musicians.

Again, here is the link to the Survival Guide for Classical Musicians guide.

Do you know any world-class soloist? What have they told you? Any cool ideas you’d like to share?

 

Carol

August 28, 2012     0 Comments   , , , , , ,

Michael Jordan’s Advice to Musicians

If you’ve read Dr. Noa Kageyama’s articles at the Bulletproof Musician, you’ve heard about the use of sport psychology with classical musicians. Athletes and musicians go through many stages in which they must overcome a series of challenges in order to be considered among the top people.

We train every day—to be the best we can be. To perform at the highest level possible and to keep opening doors for the future.

BUT, to be as successful and legendary as, say, Michael Jordan or the equivalent in the classical music world, we’ll need to work as hard as him.

He didn’t fly from the free-throw line to the basket from one day to another. It took years of goal settings and purpose. When he was in high school, the school team didn’t take him because he was not good enough. Michael worked his career from the bottom up—and we can certainly do that as well.

As you’ve probably figured, he was one of my childhood heroes and today I want to translate some of his quotes into classical musician’s language.

I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.

Uffff, this one is my favorite of all. He said in an interview: “I’ve been trusted with the last shot over 100 times and missed, I’ve lost more than 900 games, missed a million shots. All that, contributed to what I have achieved to this day”.

You will lose auditions, play horrible, have bad days, bad experiences, etc. It is not what you do when everything is beautiful, it is what you do when things get hard. Those moments will teach you like nothing else. If you persist, you will win an audition eventually. If you play out of tune and keep working on it, you will play in tune some day.

The key is to keep working and find your way around your problem. Know it exists, and work consistently on it.

The only thing I knew was that I didn’t want to be average

You know, I am such a big fan of Jordan that even though I’ve read all these quotes already I still get goose bumps every time I go over them again. The amount of energy I get when reading this quotes it’s incredible. I feel like I don’t want to be average myself either, I want to practice 8 hours a day until a reach my dream. I want to be as good violinist as he was a basketball player.

That quote is very well related to the next one…

I was the first one there and the last one to leave

No doubt about it!

In one of those million documentaries I’ve seen of him, he said that when he left basketball and started professional baseball, he was up really early and trained 4-5 hours more than the other players.

Of course, he was not professional but his reputation as a basketball player got him into the baseball team. He wanted to get better more than anything in the world and that was the right attitude at the right moment. When is the right moment? Always.

Although he never really became a star as a baseball player, his skills improved immensely over time. He was born to be a basketball player the same way you were born to play that clarinet. 😉

Sounds familiar?

I’ve known many musicians who started playing the piano but ended up playing something else and became professionals in that other instrument.

These quotes are all connected in one way, find inspiration and passion for what you do, work with a future in mind and you will rise.

Write me back!! Do you have any favorite quotes that inspires you as a musician? Do you believe sport psychology can help us? What else can give us musicians energy to keep dreaming and working toward personal goals?

 

Carol

August 11, 2012     0 Comments   , , , ,

How to Reach Your Goals in Music

Have you wondered what exactly is the hardest part of being a musician?

In my opinion, keeping the performing level you are at.

That means staying in shape—working against procrastination, our #1 enemy.

What if you’ve been playing over 10 years, how can you still open your case to practice your instrument?

It is not so easy to think about playing scales when you have done it for what feels like ages, right?.

I’ve wrote many articles on motivation but today I want to take a different approach on the subject.

If having strength to open your case is the main problem, I invite you to take one second and visualize your goals.

Where do you want to go?

What do you want to achieve while living here on earth?

Imagine for a second that you have all the money in the world—what would you do?

Would you buy an orchestra and play principal flute just because you can?

Would you hire the Hollywood Symphony to record your compositions?

What would be your wish if you didn’t have limitations?

The answer to those questions will take you to your passion—the thing(s) you really want to achieve in life, your goals.

Musicians must realize what they want in order to change the brain into “taking action” mode. Once your brain send the right signals you will move toward it immediately.

You have to play those etudes. Scales are not boring if you don’t make them boring. Think and re-think bowings, phrases, intonation, counterpoint, etc.

Remember that the greatest musicians have the basics abilities of their instrument completely mastered.

That is where you want to be. It is the only common goal for us performers—to master the basics of the instrument. To take the overall control of that piece of wood, brass or whatever material your instrument is made of. You know etudes get you there! you also know scales help with these problems as well. The reason you are in music is because you love everything about it, even scales and etudes, you just haven’t realize that yet! 😉

To love those things is to dream and believe that it will help you get to Carnegie Hall, or not, but they will help you become a better competitor 😉 . The main goal is to be at the cutting edge of your technique so that you end up achieving personal and professional goals in music. Because you want to move forward in your career, everybody wants that, but only when you are clear on what you want, you can actually move toward it with ease.

No matter how far your goal may be, taking baby steps is the only way to make it come true. Those small steps will have enough time between each other to mature—building the essential tools to arrive completely prepared to what is going to be an achieved goal.

 

Carol

August 7, 2012     0 Comments   , , ,

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