Tips for Classical Musicians

Month: November 2012

Musician’s Guide to “Playing Fast”

 

It has always been the ultimate goal of many musicians. Sometimes, it’s even the reason young students sign up for music lessons; and definitely the “why” you and me spent so many hours locked up in a practice room.

 

 

We want to play it “A tempo”

From day 1 you imagined yourself on stage playing your solo with a great orchestra. That’s the goal. It’s hard to realize we must go through certain stages; an inevitable process. Playing fast is more than just being awesome, it’s actually knowing what it takes to earn that awesomeness. It is also being able to notice every single detail going on while you are performing.

Are you in tune? Is your performance clean at this tempo? Is my hand(s) working to facilitate movement? Play fast is one thing. Playing fast with all of the above completely mastered it’s another thing. After listening to a live performance of all the Paganini caprices, I personally get really excited. I feel the need to be able to execute/have the technique to play these caprices. I believe it’s vital to watch the pros in action. Get pumped up and find the motivation to start taking small steps in the right direction.

All the Elements Together

Playing Fast Requires Time. How much? It depends.

1. On the difficulty of the piece—

2. How many time you’ve done it, and

3. How bad you want it.

If you want it badly you are half way there, said someone I can’t remember right now. Every time you do something, anything, your brain carves some tunnels. These tunnels can brume away easily if they are not deepen enough. How?

Repetition and Time

At some point after hundreds of repetitions you won’t need to do it anymore (don’t worry it will take years so don’t even think about it). For now keep repeating smartly and you’ll be on the right track.

1. Think you are a turtle. It helped me. Move from one note to the other and feel everything; your finger playing that note, intonation, the distance between the new note and the old one and so on.

2. Understand the learning process. It’s not 3 days of slow boring practice. You need a plan.

3. As a rule, practice what you learned the day before (so it can be carved deeply) but still move on to new things.

Patience

…it’s also a big ingredient. Knowing that it won’t be “a tempo” tomorrow morning is a big realization. I understand, your eager to play it the way you would at Carnegie Hall. Yeah, that’s the goal but not now. The soonest you get to really understand that, the better and more efficient will your sessions be.

Believe in your abilities and wait.

1. Follow a working plan. Spend at least a month to see bigger improvements.

2. Don’t get frustrated. Big things are not accomplished overnight. Baby steps are essential.

3. Look forward to the end but don’t rush it. Try enjoying the process of building your different techniques and applying musicality.

Musician’s Best Friend; Mr. Beat

Or any other kind of metronome. He is your best companion. He will help you play accurate and evolve with conscience. Mr, metronome will treat you like if you were a baby. And that’s a good thing ;) .

Things to consider:

1. He is your best friend only if you follow him. Don’t lose him. To be efficient is to follow your best friend.

2. Work strategically. Select some excerpts of the pieces you are working on and perform them really slow simulating the conditions you will be executing when you play fast. (e.g. Same part of the bow).

3. When you are satisfied move up. Perhaps 5 points up and try to stay on top of your technique as well as the musical understanding.

Slow Practice

Separating all the technical difficulties and practicing them one at a time can very much helps the final result. It will allow your brain to cook things better.

As you work your way up, individual technique practice will enhance each area so that the entire technical aspect works towards one another.

1. Remember the tunnel carving. Repetition makes these tunnels deepen to the point that the info stays forever.

2. Slow practice is crucial for coordination of both hands.

3. To have a smart practice session, you must analyze from different points of view at all times.

Final Thoughts

As you continue to grow as a musician, you will find that organization is probably the number one thing to focus in order to have a satisfactory performance. You want to play fast? Great! Now, let’s see how we can do that with a good level of musical and technical understanding. You must know your music, the orchestra parts, accompaniment, main lines, how your part develops and where to, and how your line fits among the rest.

When the fast part arrives, controlling your emotions will play a big role. Staying steady and being a good musician should be the priority at all times. Have fun, show off what you have practiced and keep growing as a musician. If you did your homework, you will be growing as a person as well.

Carol

November 16, 2012     0 Comments   , , , , , , , , , , ,

Great Resources for Classical Musicians

Are you a bookworm? Me too. Although I don’t have a glamorous historic past among the books, I’ve found that books help me write better and have top understanding on the subjects I discuss here on Tips for Classical Musicians.

Great action novels (which I enjoy very much) are a great resource too. They get my vocabulary going and my imagination escaping away from this world.

These books gave me so much and hopefully they’d do the same for you.

Remember that if you control your personal life, you will succeed in your professional.

First, I’d like to introduce you with two of the greatest books I’ve ever read in the financial and business department. Want to set small business in music? No problem. The $100 startup will give you tons of ideas—not a music related book though. When I read it, I found myself constantly getting new ways to start a business in music.  The book was written by the same guy who introduced me to Travel Hacking.

I Will Teach You to Be Rich is another essential read. Rami gives you an inside on how to manage a life where you take 100% control of your money. If you apply his advice, your future will brighten. Great way to be on top of your life.

                  

Now, these next 2 books you have to buy. Not if you want to or feel like it. You MUST

They will guide you through your complete formation as a classical musician. But I am already a professional? Buy it! You will still learn so much from these guys. Everything from scales practice and stage fright all the way to careers in music and strategies to succeed. You have it all in these 2 books. You won’t regret it, I promise.

                   

Personal Development

As a personal-development freak, I read many blogs and always try to remain efficient and productive. Most of the time I have a book or two (usually more) on the subject in my tablet. Among my favorites, here are 4 of them. Easy to read, lots of good stuff and advice you can’t get anywhere else.

TREASURES FOR LIFE!

                                     

Fiction

I’m a little picky with fiction. I usually give the book about 50-100 pages and if I’m still bored, that’s it. Believe it or not, I have stopped many books half way because I’m bored. I recently finished these two and they got me hooked all the way to the end.

Girls, read The Tombs if you are not into action-videogames-guns-manly adventures .

Guys, Hitman is AWESOME! get it right away.

 

What I Look Forward To

The first part of Hitman was incredible, and the second part just released only a few days ago. Oh, I’m getting it. The Secret of Success have great reviews and I’ve heard a lot about it lately. Tim Ferriss and Chris Guillebeau are two of the people who I really admire. Reading their stuff makes me want to give the extra mile in search of expanding the possibilities and enjoying every moment while doing it. I’m sure that The 4 hour Body and the Art of Non-Conformity will definitely enlighten my path.

                                                  

A Survival Guide for Classical Musicians

I can’t finish this post without recommending my own work, ooopsss! A Survival guide for Classical Musicians is the companion guide to my blog. Over the years I’ve been studying personal-growth and how to apply it in the practice room. How to grow as a person in order to become a better musician is kind of my slogan. If you get the guide (only $7) you’ll get a free report on Travel Hacking. And you will be supporting the website, the community and the stability of the content being produced. Your support will ensure the future of this blog.

Thanks again for your sponsorship!

 

Carol

 

November 13, 2012     0 Comments   , , , , , ,

Be a Complete Musician/Person

In order to level up your complete persona, you must try everything.

That’s right! You have to try it all.

But it looks gross!! It doesn’t matter, eat it. You might be missing the best flavor your tongue could ever experience.

Musicians don’t always take this approach. I mean, we are artists. We are supposed to be the craziest living beings on earth. Look at modern art and you’ll understand what I mean.

Besides, in what other profession you get to be the slave of a piece of wood or brass or otherwise lose your tone, pitch and complete feeling of the instrument?

Only music.

We lock ourselves in the practice room, so that we could play from decent to really good performances. And that is awesome, the work really pays off. But there are other ways to keep experiencing life and put it in context with your music career.

For example, when I travel and get to witness fascinating place, I can somehow communicate those feelings through my instrument later on. What I have experienced in the past helps me understand those emotions—then I just have to find a way to communicate them. That’s where my violin comes in  .

You have to go out there! Live! Experience stuff, do crazy stuff.

Set yourself free.

Do the things you are more scared of! Prove that you have courage to face what gives you Goosebumps. It’s all part of the learning experience. You go through things in life so that you can be prepared the next time it happens or so that when something bigger arrives, you can deal with it.

Try risking more, more often. You’d be surprised of the consequences. They will not be as bad as you originally thought.

One day at the Time

It is the number one rule to be an efficient and productive person (my opinion). You may have these million projects on your mind but they won’t come alive if you don’t take the first step.

Baby steps are essential. Organize your “to do” list and set a deadline.

Persistence and Perseverance will get you there. Work only a few things every day, know what comes for the future but don’t worry about it.

Take a few tasks and tackle them. Feel the joy of accomplishment. Then do the same the next day. Before you know it, you’ll get to the end.

The 21 days to change a habit

As a musician/person we’ve built many bad habits over time. It’s important to identify them and correct them applying the right techniques.

According to the people who like to do research, changing a habit is as easy as spending 21 days doing the opposite. Painful, not cool and sometimes horrible—but it is a proven method. You could start by going to the gym everyday for 20 minutes. Or by drinking 3 full glasses of water every day (additionally to those you would normally drink).

To be a complete person/musician you have to take small bites in a strict manner. You can’t miss a day for at least 21 days. There is a quote that I really like; When you want really want it, you are already half way in.

Last advice; travel, risk more than you usually do, persevere, take one thing at the time and wait 21 days to get used to new things. All of this will grow you into a greater person/musician.

Carol

November 9, 2012     0 Comments   , , , , , , ,

Classical Music Vs. Musicians

When was the last time you listened to classical music?

Was it yesterday? perhaps 3 months ago?

I personally don’t listen to much classical music because I focus all my energies into practicing.

It is a fact, after a 6 hour practice session I don’t feel like listening to music at all!

I could not be more WRONG! That was me! and it’s still me sometimes  I had a professor during my undergrad who always mentioned the possibility of musicians not liking music. He said that somehow, we musicians don’t enjoy listening to music anymore.

 

Not everybody, but a good majority! What happened to us? Where did we lost it? Is it true that we musicians don’t like to spend time listening to good music?

 

I mean, common! That’s what we do! It’s how we make a living–or at least how we intent to make it happen. I consider myself completely guilty on this one. I know it’s important but still, I don’t compromise enough to actually do it. I think if we get to know the many benefits we get from listening to music, perhaps we could organize our study sessions including more listening.

 

These are some of the things that come to mind:

 

1) You will learn style.

2) You will learn the composer.

3) You will learn traditional performing standards.

4) You will learn about tempos, colors, atmospheres.
5) You will learn what your part sounds like when the others are playing.

6) You will learn orchestration (if studied with score).

7) You will learn the best orchestras in the world.

8) You will learn other parts.

9) You will learn new music

 

Today, we have more than enough resources to listen to classical music for free. On YouTube you find everything. As a good resource I will recommend www.naxosmusiclibrary.com. Investing in a streaming site like this one will pay off in the long run. It is a good idea, also, to build up your personal library with scores and Cd’s, but I know there is a lot of money involved there. On the meantime, if you can’t afford that you can stick with YouTube and perhaps Naxos music library.

Get your free scores here www.imslp.org. I’m sure you knew this site

 

I invite you to join me and take the challenge of listening those works you are working on and other stuff by the same composer. Taking aside 15 to 20 minutes daily will do.

As we analyze the character and what actually makes the composer unique, we will level up an understanding of the music we play. I believe, that will put us at the top of our field.

In general, when you are informed and know what’s going on around your world, you are on the right track to know your competition, your business and what holds you back. You will be better prepared to deal with it. When you get to know who the next little virtuoso is and who won which competition, you maintain a good preparation and set some standards.

 

Knowing what is going on is part of your business. Don’t forget. This stuff we don’t learn in the practice room but it’s what completes us. The more you know the better– it’s a thumb rule for all fields. In an industry where contacts play a big role, knowing as much as possible is essential to manage a successful career. We can start simply by listening to recordings and knowing most of the recordings of the pieces we are working on.

 

Last advice,

 

Be involved! Subscribe to music magazines, blogs like this one and streaming sites! They can only add to your career development. What other thing would you add to the list of benefits?

 

Feel free to comment

 

Carol

 

November 6, 2012     0 Comments   , , ,

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