Tips for Classical Musicians

Category: Auditions

The Great Majority of Classical Musical Instruments

 

Bassoon:

 

 

As the name would suggest, the bass member of the woodwind family, and by far the largest, especially its lower-pitched relation, the extremely bulky double or contra-bassoon. Like the oboe, it is a double-reed instrument, although to facilitate the playing action (the instrument is normally held across and in front of the body) it is connected to the bassoon via a silver-plated, curved crook. Its most notorious cousin is the Baroque serpent, shaped very much as its name would suggest.

 

Winds:

 

Wind instruments are played by blowing into a mouthpiece. There are 2 types of wind instruments: woodwinds and brass

 

Woodwinds:

 

Include the flute, piccolo, clarinet, oboe, saxophone, and bassoon

The great majority of musical instruments fall readily into one of six major categories: bowed strings, woodwind, brass, percussion, keyboard, and the guitar family, the first four which form the basis of the modern symphony orchestra.

 

Strings:

 

 

String instruments are played by pulling a bow along the string, or by plucking the strings with your fingers (almost like a guitar).

The most widely used string instruments are the violin, viola, cello, and double bass. The violin has the highest pitch of the string instruments, followed by the viola, cello, and double bass.

The four principle woodwind instruments of the orchestra all work by means of a system of keys (usually silver-plated) which when variously depressed and released allow air to pass through differing lengths of the instrument resulting in notes of different pitch. In order of descending overall pitch, these are:

 

Flute:

 

Early forebears include the unkeyed fife. The most popular close relation is the recorder family, end-blown and largely unkeyed in the vertical position.

The four principle orchestral string instruments are (in descending order of overall pitch) the violins (usually divided into two sections, playing individual parts), the violas, the cellos and the double basses. Each have four strings arranged in order of pitch, can be played by means of a bow (arco) or plucked (pizzicato), but whereas the violin and viola are played with the instrument resting between the chin and the shoulder, the larger cello (or, to give it its full title, violoncello) is placed facing outwards between and slightly behind the knees, and the bulky double bass is played standing up or seated on a high stool.

 

Clarinet:

 

 

Like the oboe usually wooden, played vertically and held in the mouth, but with a wider bore and consisting of a single reed which when activated vibrates against a detachable mouthpiece. The standard instrument can be pitched in B flat (usually) or A, and the family is unusually extensive including the higher-pitched E flat, the B flat bass, the rarely-used C, the alto (a modern relative of the basset horn), and the even more obscure double-bass or ‘pedal’ clarinet. Occasionally the clarinet’s ‘popular’ cousin can be seen in the concert hall, the saxophone.

 

Oboe:

 

a narrow-bored wooden instrument descended from the medieval shawm, held vertically, and activated by means of placing the end-positioned double-reed in the mouth and blowing under high-pressure so as to force air between the two bound reeds, causing them to vibrate. Other members of the oboe family include the lower pitched cor anglais (or English Horn), and (far more rarely) baritone oboe and heckelphone (bass oboe). The instrument’s most famous predecessor is the Baroque oboe d’amore, often used by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Enthusiasts of Medieval, Renaissance and early Baroque music will encounter earlier varieties of bowed instruments known variously as vielle, viol, or in its earliest form, fidel (hence the modern nickname for a violin, ‘fiddle’). The most popular member of the viol family is the cello’s precursor, the viola da gamba (literally ‘viol of the legs’).

 

Brass instruments

 

are also activated by blowing into them, although instead of using a form of reed over which the mouth is placed, the lips are placed against or inside the cup of a metal mouthpiece, and made to vibrate against its inner rim. In order of descending pitch, these are:

 

Tuba:

 

not unlike the French horn in basic construction, only more oval in shape and much bigger. The piston valve action is similar to the trumpet, only the valves themselves are situated in the middle of the instrument. A variety of sizes and types exist aside from the typical concert instrument in F (bass tuba), including the tenor tuba (higher), and double-bass tuba (lower), often referred to as a bombardon in a military or brass band context.

 

French horn:

 

The modern instrument is the most outwardly complex, consisting of a basic tube, rounded into a compact shape culminating in a conical bore or bell, into which a series of valves are centrally set. Before the valve system had been developed, the changing of basic pitch was facilitated by the insertion of a variety of crooks which altered the length of the basic tube, and the changing of certain notes by holding the hand in a variety of subtly differentiated positions within the bell.

 

Percussion:

 

A percussion instrument is probably best defined as one where a resonating surface is struck by the player, either by hand or by some form of stick. These divide roughly into tuned instruments which have a definite pitch or series of pitches, and those of indefinite pitch

Definite pitch percussion instruments include the marimba, xylophone. timpani or kettle drum, xylophone, glockenspiel, tubular bells, vibraphone. Occasionally, the piano and celesta (see left) are included in scores as part of the percussion section

 

Trombone:

 

The trombone is easily recognisable by its extended elliptical shape culminating in a conical bore, and its distinctive use of a hand-operated slide held out in front, in order to change pitch. The tenor and bass trombone are occasionally seen (especially the latter), although the alto and double-bass are extreme rarities

 

Trumpet:

 

Played horizontally via a series of valves on the top of the instrument which are opened and closed in various combinations to create different pitches. Occasionally, the piccolo (higher) or bass (lower) trumpets are heard (and the trumpet’s ‘popular’ cousin, the cornet), although more common nowadays in ‘authentic’ Baroque orchestras (which use instruments of the correct period or copies thereof), is the ‘natural’ or valveless trumpet

Indefinite pitch percussion instruments include the bass drum, cymbals, triangle, snare drum, gong, castanets, whip, rattle, anvil, tambourine, cymbals (struck and clashing), and a variety of drums (side, tenor, bass, tabor, bongo etc.).

 

Keyboard instruments:

 

Conveniently collected together as any instrument which is operated by means of a standard keyboard, the differences in operation are wide-ranging and carry obvious associations with certain of the above categories. These break down into four main types:

 

Plucked:

 

mostly instruments emanating from the 17th/18th centuries where a series of stretched and tuned strings are plucked by a quill or plectrum (e.g. harpsichord, virginal, spinet).

 

Struck:

 

Where the strings are actually hit, either by a tangent (e.g. 17th/18th century clavichord), or hammers (e.g. piano, celesta).

 

Guitar Family:

 

The ‘classical’ guitar is typically a Spanish-derived, a six-stringed instrument played using a plectrum or the finger-nails, with frets set into the fingerboard. Popular music tends to use amplification for both six-stringed instruments and the four-string bass guitar. The guitar family gradually supplanted the lute which had come to prominence during the Renaissance

 

Electronic:

 

where a number of effects approximating to those derived from any of the above instruments, as well as totally original sounds, can be achieved (e.g. electronic organ, synthesizer).

The standard instrument can be pitched in B flat (usually) or A, and the family is unusually extensive including the higher-pitched E flat, the B flat bass, the rarely-used C, the alto (a modern relative of the basset horn), and the even more obscure double-bass or ‘pedal’ clarinet. Like the oboe, it is a double-reed instrument, although to facilitate the playing action (the instrument is normally held across and in front of the body) it is connected to the bassoon via a silver-plated, curved crook. Played horizontally via a series of valves on the top of the instrument which are opened and closed in various combinations to create different pitches. These divide roughly into tuned instruments which have a definite pitch or series of pitches, and those of indefinite pitch. Definite pitch percussion instruments include the marimba, xylophone.

 

Aerated:

 

where the notes are activated by a column of mechanically propelled air within a series of tuned pipes (e.g. organ).

 

Oboe:

 

a narrow-bored wooden instrument descended from the medieval shawm, held vertically, and activated by means of placing the end-positioned double-reed in the mouth, and blowing under high-pressure so as to force air between the two bound reeds, causing them to vibrate. Other members of the oboe family include the lower pitched cor anglais (or English Horn), and (far more rarely) baritone oboe and heckelphone (bass oboe). The instrument’s most famous predecessor is the Baroque oboe d’amore, often used by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Enthusiasts of Medieval, Renaissance and early Baroque music will encounter earlier varieties of bowed instruments known variously as vielle, viol, or in its earliest form, fidel (hence the modern nickname for a violin, ‘fiddle’). The most popular member of the viol family is the cello’s precursor, the viola da gamba (literally ‘viol of the legs’).

 

Clarinet:

 

Like the oboe usually wooden, played vertically and held in the mouth, but with a wider bore and consisting of a single reed which when activated vibrates against a detachable mouthpiece. The standard instrument can be pitched in B flat (usually) or A, and the family is unusually extensive including the higher-pitched E flat, the B flat bass, the rarely-used C, the alto (a modern relative of the basset horn), and the even more obscure double-bass or ‘pedal’ clarinet. Occasionally the clarinet’s ‘popular’ cousin can be seen in the concert hall, the saxophone

 

Strings:

 

String instruments are played by pulling a bow along the string, or by plucking the strings with your fingers (almost like a guitar).

The most widely used string instruments are the violin, viola, cello, and double bass. The violin has the highest pitch of the string instruments, followed by the viola, cello, and double bass

 

Winds:

 

Wind instruments are played by blowing into a mouthpiece.

There are 2 types of wind instruments: woodwinds and brass

Woodwinds include the flute, piccolo, clarinet, bassoon, oboe, and saxophone

 

most affordable french horn in the world

 

The four principle orchestral string instruments are (in descending order of overall pitch) the violins (usually divided into two sections, playing individual parts), the violas, the cellos and the double basses. Each have four strings arranged in order of pitch, can be played by means of a bow (arco) or plucked (pizzicato), but whereas the violin and viola are played with the instrument resting between the chin and the shoulder, the larger cello (or, to give it its full title, violoncello) is placed facing outwards between and slightly behind the knees, and the bulky double bass is played standing up or seated on a high stool.

 

The great majority of musical instruments fall readily into one of six major categories: bowed strings, woodwind, brass, percussion, keyboard, and the guitar family, the first four which form the basis of the modern symphony orchestral

 

The four principle woodwind instruments of the orchestra all work by means of a system of keys (usually silver-plated) which when variously depressed and released allow air to pass through differing lengths of the instrument resulting in notes of different pitch. In order of descending overall pitch, these are

 

Flute:

 

Early forebears include the unkeyed fife. The most popular close relation is the recorder family, end-blown and largely unkeyed in the vertical position.

 

Bassoon:

 

as the name would suggest, the bass member of the woodwind family, and by far the largest, especially its lower-pitched relation, the extremely bulky double or contra-bassoon. Like the oboe, it is a double-reed instrument, although to facilitate the playing action (the instrument is normally held across and in front of the body) it is connected to the bassoon via a silver-plated, curved crook. Its most notorious cousin is the Baroque serpent, shaped very much as its name would suggest.

 

Brass instruments are also activated by blowing into them, although instead of using a form of reed over which the mouth is placed, the lips are placed against or inside the cup of a metal mouthpiece, and made to vibrate against its inner rim. In order of descending pitch, these are:

 

Trombone:

The trombone is easily recognisable by its extended elliptical shape culminating in a conical bore, and its distinctive use of a hand-operated slide held out in front, in order to change pitch. The tenor and bass trombone are occasionally seen (especially the latter), although the alto and double-bass are extreme rarities

Indefinite pitch percussion instruments include the bass drum, cymbals, triangle, snare drum, gong, castanets, whip, rattle, anvil, tambourine, cymbals (struck and clashing), and a variety of drums (side, tenor, bass, tabor, bongo etc.).

 

Trumpet:

 

 

Played horizontally via a series of valves on the top of the instrument which are opened and closed in various combinations to create different pitches. Occasionally, the piccolo (higher) or bass (lower) trumpets are heard (and the trumpet’s ‘popular’ cousin, the cornet), although more common nowadays in ‘authentic’ Baroque orchestras (which use instruments of the correct period or copies thereof), is the ‘natural’ or valveless trumpet.

 

Percussion:

 

A percussion instrument is probably best defined as one where a resonating surface is struck by the player, either by hand or by some form of stick. These divide roughly into tuned instruments which have a definite pitch or series of pitches, and those of indefinite pitch

Definite pitch percussion instruments include the marimba, xylophone. timpani or kettle drum, xylophone, glockenspiel, tubular bells, vibraphone. Occasionally, the piano and celesta (see left) are included in scores as part of the percussion section.

 

French horn:

 

The modern instrument is the most outwardly complex, consisting of a basic tube, rounded into a compact shape culminating in a conical bore or bell, into which a series of valves are centrally set. Before the valve system had been developed, the changing of basic pitch was facilitated by the insertion of a variety of crooks which altered the length of the basic tube, and the changing of certain notes by holding the hand in a variety of subtly differentiated positions within the bell.

 

Tuba:

 

 

Unlike the French horn in basic construction, only more oval in shape and much bigger. The piston valve action is similar to the trumpet, only the valves themselves are situated in the middle of the instrument. A variety of sizes and types exist aside from the typical concert instrument in F (bass tuba), including the tenor tuba (higher), and double-bass tuba (lower), often referred to as a bombardon in a military or brass band context.

 

Keyboard instruments:

 

Conveniently collected together as any instrument which is operated by means of a standard keyboard, the differences in operation are wide-ranging and carry obvious associations with certain of the above categories. These break down into four main types:

 

Electronic:

 

where a number of effects approximating to those derived from any of the above instruments, as well as totally original sounds, can be achieved (e.g. electronic organ, synthesizer).

 

Aerated:

 

where the notes are activated by a column of mechanically propelled air within a series of tuned pipes (e.g. organ).

 

Plucked:

 

mostly instruments emanating from the 17th/18th centuries where a series of stretched and tuned strings are plucked by a quill or plectrum (e.g. harpsichord, virginal, spinet)

 

Struck:

 

where the strings are actually hit, either by a tangent (e.g. 17th/18th century clavichord), or hammers (e.g. piano, celesta).

The standard instrument can be pitched in B flat (usually) or A, and the family is unusually extensive including the higher-pitched E flat, the B flat bass, the rarely-used C, the alto (a modern relative of the basset horn), and the even more obscure double-bass or ‘pedal’ clarinet. Like the oboe, it is a double-reed instrument, although to facilitate the playing action (the instrument is normally held across and in front of the body) it is connected to the bassoon via a silver-plated, curved crook. Played horizontally via a series of valves on the top of the instrument which are opened and closed in various combinations to create different pitches. These divide roughly into tuned instruments which have a definite pitch or series of pitches, and those of indefinite pitch. Definite pitch percussion instruments include the marimba, xylophone.

 

Guitar Family

 

The ‘classical’ guitar is typically a Spanish-derived, six-stringed instrument played using a plectrum or the finger-nails, with frets set into the fingerboard. Popular music tends to use amplification for both six-stringed instruments and the four-string bass guitar. The guitar family gradually supplanted the lute which had come to prominence during the Renaissance.

 

The four principle orchestral string instruments are (in descending order of overall pitch) the violins (usually divided into two sections, playing individual parts), the violas, the cellos and the double basses. Each have four strings arranged in order of pitch, can be played by means of a bow (arco) or plucked (pizzicato), but whereas the violin and viola are played with the instrument resting between the chin and the shoulder, the larger cello (or, to give it its full title, violoncello) is placed facing outwards between and slightly behind the knees, and the bulky double bass is played standing up or seated on a high stool.

 

Oboe:

 

a narrow-bored wooden instrument descended from the medieval shawm, held vertically, and activated by means of placing the end-positioned double-reed in the mouth and blowing under high-pressure so as to force air between the two bound reeds, causing them to vibrate. Other members of the oboe family include the lower pitched cor anglais (or English Horn), and (far more rarely) baritone oboe and heckelphone (bass oboe). The instrument’s most famous predecessor is the Baroque oboe d’amore, often used by Johann Sebastian Bach.

 

Winds:

 

Wind instruments are played by blowing into a mouthpiece.

There are 2 types of wind instruments: woodwinds and brass.

Woodwinds include the flute, piccolo, clarinet, saxophone, oboe, and bassoon.

 

Strings:

 

String instruments are played by pulling a bow along the string, or by plucking the strings with your fingers (almost like a guitar).

The most widely used string instruments are the violin, viola, cello, and double bass. The violin has the highest pitch of the string instruments, followed by the viola, cello, and double bass.

 

Clarinet:

 

like the oboe usually wooden, played vertically and held in the mouth, but with a wider bore and consisting of a single reed which when activated vibrates against a detachable mouthpiece. The standard instrument can be pitched in B flat (usually) or A, and the family is unusually extensive including the higher-pitched E flat, the B flat bass, the rarely-used C, the alto (a modern relative of the basset horn), and the even more obscure double-bass or ‘pedal’ clarinet. Occasionally the clarinet’s ‘popular’ cousin can be seen in the concert hall, the saxophone.

 

Bassoon:

 

as the name would suggest, the bass member of the woodwind family, and by far the largest, especially its lower-pitched relation, the extremely bulky double or contra-bassoon. Like the oboe, it is a double-reed instrument, although to facilitate the playing action (the instrument is normally held across and in front of the body) it is connected to the bassoon via a silver-plated, curved crook. Its most notorious cousin is the Baroque serpent, shaped very much as its name would suggest.

 

Enthusiasts of Medieval, Renaissance and early Baroque music will encounter earlier varieties of bowed instruments known variously as vielle, viol, or in its earliest form, fidel (hence the modern nickname for a violin, ‘fiddle’). The most popular member of the viol family is the cello’s precursor, the viola da gamba (literally ‘viol of the legs’).

 

The four principle woodwind instruments of the orchestra all work by means of a system of keys (usually silver-plated) which when variously depressed and released allow air to pass through differing lengths of the instrument resulting in notes of different pitch. In order of descending overall pitch, these are:<br />

 

Flute:

 

Early forebears include the unkeyed fife. The most popular close relation is the recorder family, end-blown and largely unkeyed in the vertical position.

 

The great majority of musical instruments fall readily into one of six major categories: bowed strings, woodwind, brass, percussion, keyboard, and the guitar family, the first four which form the basis of the modern symphony orchestra.

 

Brass instruments are also activated by blowing into them, although instead of using a form of reed over which the mouth is placed, the lips are placed against or inside the cup of a metal mouthpiece, and made to vibrate against its inner rim. In order of descending pitch, these are:

 

Trumpet:

 

Played horizontally via a series of valves on the top of the instrument which are opened and closed in various combinations to create different pitches. Occasionally, the piccolo (higher) or bass (lower) trumpets are heard (and the trumpet’s ‘popular’ cousin, the cornet), although more common nowadays in ‘authentic’ Baroque orchestras (which use instruments of the correct period or copies thereof), is the ‘natural’ or valveless trumpet.

Definite pitch percussion instruments include the marimba, xylophone. timpani or kettle drum, xylophone, glockenspiel, tubular bells, vibraphone. Occasionally, the piano and celesta (see left) are included in scores as part of the percussion section.

 

Tuba:

 

Most affordable Tuba instrument

 

Unlike the French horn in basic construction, only more oval in shape and much bigger. The piston valve action is similar to the trumpet, only the valves themselves are situated in the middle of the instrument. A variety of sizes and types exist aside from the typical concert instrument in F (bass tuba), including the tenor tuba (higher), and double-bass tuba (lower), often referred to as a bombardon in a military or brass band context.

 

Trombone:

 

The trombone is easily recognisable by its extended elliptical shape culminating in a conical bore, and its distinctive use of a hand-operated slide held out in front, in order to change pitch. The tenor and bass trombone are occasionally seen (especially the latter), although the alto and double-bass are extreme rarities.

Indefinite pitch percussion instruments include the bass drum, cymbals, triangle, snare drum, gong, castanets, whip, rattle, anvil, tambourine, cymbals (struck and clashing), and a variety of drums (side, tenor, bass, tabor, bongo etc.).

 

French horn:

 

The modern instrument is the most outwardly complex, consisting of a basic tube, rounded into a compact shape culminating in a conical bore or bell, into which a series of valves are centrally set. Before the valve system had been developed, the changing of basic pitch was facilitated by the insertion of a variety of crooks which altered the length of the basic tube, and the changing of certain notes by holding the hand in a variety of subtly differentiated positions within the bell.

 

Percussion:

 

A percussion instrument is probably best defined as one where a resonating surface is struck by the player, either by hand or by some form of stick. These divide roughly into tuned instruments which have a definite pitch or series of pitches, and those of indefinite pitch.

 

Keyboard instruments:

 

Conveniently collected together as any instrument which is operated by means of a standard keyboard, the differences in operation are wide-ranging and carry obvious associations with certain of the above categories. These break down into four main types:

 

Guitar Family:

 

The ‘classical’ guitar is typically a Spanish-derived, six-stringed instrument played using a plectrum or the finger-nails, with frets set into the fingerboard. Popular music tends to use amplification for both six-stringed instruments and the four-string bass guitar. The guitar family gradually supplanted the lute which had come to prominence during the Renaissance.

 

Plucked:

 

Mostly instruments emanating from the 17th/18th centuries where a series of stretched and tuned strings are plucked by a quill or plectrum (e.g. harpsichord, virginal, and spinet).

 

Aerated:

 

Where the notes are activated by a column of mechanically propelled air within a series of tuned pipes (e.g. organ).

The standard instrument can be pitched in B flat (usually) or A, and the family is unusually extensive including the higher-pitched E flat, the B flat bass, the rarely-used C, the alto (a modern relative of the basset horn), and the even more obscure double-bass or ‘pedal’ clarinet. Like the oboe, it is a double-reed instrument, although to facilitate the playing action (the instrument is normally held across and in front of the body) it is connected to the bassoon via a silver-plated, curved crook. Played horizontally via a series of valves on the top of the instrument which are opened and closed in various combinations to create different pitches. These divide roughly into tuned instruments which have a definite pitch or series of pitches, and those of indefinite pitch. Definite pitch percussion instruments include the marimba, xylophone.

 

Struck:

 

where the strings are actually hit, either by a tangent (e.g. 17th/18th century clavichord), or hammers (e.g. piano, celesta).

 

Electronic:

 

where a number of effects approximating to those derived from any of the above instruments, as well as totally original sounds, can be achieved (e.g. electronic organ, synthesizer).

 

How To Be The Best Performer

 

Get more information on Classical Instruments HERE.

 

Here’s an Introduction  to the instruments of the orchestra

May 2, 2017     0 Comments   , , , , , ,

50 Things to Remember in the Practice Room

Being Aware/Conscious

After a couple of weeks of intense practice we musicians tend to run in automatic mode. We know what to do and when to do it—but that doesn’t mean we are getting the most out of our routine.

That’s when we have to bring back a little consciousness to renew our contract with music.

Here’s what you should consider during your practice sessions:
1. Feel comfortable with the temperature of your cubicle. You can only learn when you are comfy.

2. Have all your accessories in one place.

3. Breathe and slow down—you are about to start something religious.

4. Focus on focus. Leave everything behind, clear your mind and enter the PRACTICE mode.

5. Warm-up! 15 minutes at least. Take care of yourself so you can make the art you love so much for years to come.

6. Stretch before playing your first note.

7. Have your pencil ready to jot down your progress and make markings.

8. Once you are ready to STUDY, keep your “mental control”. Focus on what you are learning—not about the pizza you’ll eat afterwards.

9. Use a mirror as part of your practice. See how you look like and what can improve your tone/performance.

10. Posture is essential to improve sound—and other things.

11. Prepare a plan before your sessions and stick to it. Know what each minute of practice is dedicated to.

12. Follow your plan no matter what. Trust your preparation beforehand.

13. Build the music. Don’t practice everything at once. E.g. The first hour you learn notes, the second intonation, then rhythm then everything together. Then everything separate again and building it one at the time for a couple of weeks. It’s a long process but it’s the most efficient.

14. Spend time building your technique. When inspiration finally arrives you will have a viable way to express yourself. Get into those etudes!

15. Listen to a lot of music and hear the professionals’ interpretations. Learn from styles and composers.

16. When you practice slowly, you forget slowly. Mr. Perlman said that!

17. The metronome is discipline’s no.1 ally.

18. Repetitions will engrave things in your brain forever.

19. Know the structure of your piece. A little music theory never hurt anybody 🙂 .

20. Imagine the rest of the orchestra while you play your part. Keep them in mind while performing.

21. Phrasing a line is making music. Not phrasing is playing notes.

22. Make a good dynamic contrast—but don’t lose the sound in the (p) pianos.

23. Style is what characterizes the piece.

24. Rhythms HAVE to be accurate.

25. Play in tune. All you have to do is: LISTEN. Mr. Perlman said that as well.

26. Read a book or two about the history of the composer you are interpreting.

27. Get free scores at imslp.org or get them on Amazon.

28. Once you know the style of a piece, you’ll perform the right strokes.

29. Vibrato has to be controlled.

30. Articulate! Play clean.

31. Coordinate both hands.

32. Re-check posture. You’ve been working a lot and might’ve move into a more comfortable position. Adjust.

33. Your breathing has to support your playing.

34. Take a break when your mind is exhausted, don’t waste time.

35. Stay hydrated to maximize efficiency. Drink a lot of water.

36. Take vitamin C to stay healthy.

37. Don’t Facebook while on breaks – stay with the music in your head as long as possible.

38. Keep your mind focused on what you practiced. Keep practicing in your mind. Think and rethink rhythms, notes, etc.

39. It’s all about surviving, really. Effective practice takes a huge amount of concentration. Survive your 3 hours session and then you can rest.

40. After a couple of hours you will leave the focus-house and that will be fine.

41. Push your limits. Stay longer if you can.

42. Leave when you are not productive, not when you get tired.

43. Remember: Practice is the only thing that will get you there.

44. You want to be good; then you have to give it all.

45. Be constant. Do it every day.

46. Move drip by drip and SMILE. There is no finish line.

47. Believe in your dreams and do give up what you are not passionate about. Then, follow what you are passionate until you get there. Enjoy the ride, and don’t stop until you reach it.

48. Remove distractions while working. It helps concentration.

49. Live a calm life.

50. Love what you do.

Now you have something concrete in your hands (a list)—it’s time to take action.

It’s fun and entertaining to read lists like the above but only when you take action can you improve your persona.
Remember: smart practice is a combination of:

· Knowing what to do

And

· Sticking to it no matter what.

I hope these items serve as inspiration to work at your best level.
FOR THE EMPIRE,

Carol

October 27, 2013     0 Comments   , , ,

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   , , , , , , , , , , ,

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 the 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 every day 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   , , , , , , ,

How to Make Scales Fun to Practice

Let`s face it—practicing scales isn`t much fun. Most pianists see scales, along with arpeggios, as a necessary evil on the road to musical dexterity. On the flip side of the coin, those boring exercises are crucial if you want to be a good pianist or instrumentalist.

Whether you`re a singer, saxophonist, guitarist or keyboard player, technique is vital to your craft. You`ll be glad of those hours of practicing scales and arpeggios when you`re playing hard stuff.

Likewise, if you decide to become a pop or jazz performer, you`ll still need the manual dexterity you acquire by leaning your scales.

There`s no way to avoid them if you want to play really well.

There are, however, things you can do to make practicing scales more entertaining. Here are a few tips to make your scale practicing more endurable and even enjoyable:

  • Find some imaginative scale studies to work on. You don`t have to do the same scale exercises day in, day out. There are plenty of creative books on the market today that are geared toward making scale practicing more interesting. Visit a music store or go online and find some new exercise books.
  • Make it more exciting by taking your scales all the way up and down. You`ll be panting for breath after the first couple of scales and you`ll feel as if you`ve run a marathon, but it`s good for your muscle memory and adds some excitement to your practicing.
    Set some imaginative and creative goals. Try to play a scale perfectly 10 times in a row, or try to play the scale 20 times in three minutes without making a mistake.
  • Practice hands separately and then together (pianists), as this creates a little variety. You can also practice your scales in syncopated rhythms, accenting certain notes. This not only adds interest, but it also helps you build your muscle memory.
  • Remind yourself how much the scale practicing is going to help you in some of the repertoire pieces you`re working on. For example, if you`re working on a Bach Prelude and Fugue, you can easily see how much your performance is going to benefit from some intensive scale practicing.
  • It’s important to find some books that will make scale practicing a more enjoyable activity, instead of the tedious, boring chore that it can be. With the right choice of exercises and a little imagination on your part, you`ll be amazed how quickly the minutes will fly by as you practice your scales. You`ll also be amazed at the improvement in your playing when you`re working on your repertoire.

Just remember, technique is vitally important, but it`s a means to an end and this end result is the skill with which you play your musical repertoire.

Carol

October 19, 2012     0 Comments   , , , , ,

What About Technique?

As a classically trained musician, you know that the most important thing you can do is work on and solidify your technique. No matter how talented or expressive you are in your musical skills, it`s technique that gets you through.

 

Without having a strong technique to support you, you`re not treading a path to success; you`re treading quick sand. On the flip side, however, some musicians rely so heavily on technique that they`re virtually swamped by it. They`re so wrapped up in practicing scales, arpeggios and other exercises that they neglect to work on their repertoire.

 

When this happens, it`s important to prioritize how much of your practice time should go to technical warm-ups and exercises and how much should go toward practicing your musical pieces. It`s important first to remember what technique is for. You use these strengthening skills to fine-tune and hone your skills as a musician.

 

Once you`ve got a firm grip on your technique, you can put it firmly in its place as a background to your performance.

 

If you`re a singer, particularly an opera or concert singer, you have to be especially careful about not over-practicing. Many experienced professional singers are content with 20 minutes a day of warm-up scales and arpeggios before jumping right into repertoire.

If you practice your vocalizes and exercises too long, you`ll tire out your voice. As to how much you should practice your technique during a single session, here are some thoughts to consider:

 

  • Mindless practicing is a waste of time.Most musicians agree that endlessly playing scales and arpeggios by rote over and over again without thinking isn`t a particularly valuable way to spend your practice time. If your head space isn`t in what you`re doing, your muscle memory won`t develop and muscle memory is the backbone of technique.
  • Mindless practicing causes sloppinessand soon you`ll find yourself falling into bad habits that will make your practicing destructive rather than beneficial. Neglecting your repertoire leads to a lack of confidence. After all, you`re going to be performing your pieces, not your scales, in front of an audience.

 

If you concentrate on technique at the expense of your repertoire, your repertoire will surely suffer.

If you have extra practice time, devote it to your musical repertoire, not to your technical exercises, especially if you`re preparing for a performance. Set aside a time for scales, arpeggios and technical exercises and don`t go beyond it. Unless there`s something you specifically want to work on, such as a helpful exercise, keep your technical practicing in its place. It`s valuable, but you don`t want to practice scales at the expense of your repertoire.

Just remember, technique is vitally important, but it`s a means to an end and this end result is the skill with which you play your musical repertoire.

Carol

October 16, 2012     0 Comments   , , , , , , ,

4 Steps to Cook a Good Piece of Music

I am still a young musician. Unlike my professors and people who have been playing for many, many years, I am still learning.

In fact, that’s one of the reasons I started this blog, to share what I’ve recently learned and hopefully help other musicians find a higher level of musical understanding easier and faster.

Lately, I have been trying to practice a good amount of hours, and as usual, trying to do so as smart as I can.

It’s good to remind ourselves what’s really effective, what really works. After many weeks or even moths of practicing, one can stop thinking. You get used to a routine and stop looking beyond your own boundaries.

Slow practice.

Yeah, yeah, I know you’ve heard it before. But you haven’t heard my approach yet.

Every musician take notice of it in master-classes, seminars, YouTube, lessons, etc.

It’s everywhere.

Now, what does it take to practice slowly in an extremely productive way?

You practice slow and then it’s perfect?

Do they mean slow scales?

Slow movements?

Here’s what I think. I’ve done a series of experiments and this is what I believe slow practice is about:

 

1) Music must be built up the same way you build up your muscles.

You work different parts, all separately.

  1. a) Intonation
  2. b) Phrasing
  3. c) Dynamics
  4. d) Bowings

Etc.

After working in detail each of these technical issues, you can then put them together one by one.

  1. a) Legato + Intonation
  2. b) Intonation + Articulation
  3. c) Intonation + Legato + Articulation

And so on…

This will take a long while. I’m talking about weeks if not months, depending on the difficulty of the piece. Be patient, you’ll get there the smart wayHave You Practiced 10,000 Hours Yet?

You need a strong base to support a heavy piece of music with hundreds of details. You can then get deeper into the music and work aspects like musicality.

 

2) Slow practice needs time. Your brain is an awesome machine. Make sure you learn how to operate it.

You need time in order to cook your food and get the maximum out of it.

  1. a) Select hard passages.Slowly analyzing.Watch how your fingers move and how you get to the new note.

Example:

Your fingers learned how to get to “B” from “A”. But they haven’t learned how to get to “B” from “C”. (Yep, it’s that hard)

  1. b) Practice your excerpt really slow focusing onas many details as you can. After 15- 20 minutesleave it. You brain, muscles and mind get tired, it’s hard to focus longer that.

Like I said, the brain is an amazing machine. Next time you come back you will notice a difference. Your brain it’s still working on it even though you are not physically involved.

BRAIN POWER!

3) Control your instrument with your mind. You don’t have to be a psychic though. Instrumental playing is really delicate. You can change something by moving your pinky slightly forward (string players) or by relaxing your right shoulder.

  1. a) Sometimes it only takes tobe aware of the problem. If youthink what you need to do (yes, only by thinking) you will perform it as well. Not always, but when the “fixing” is small.

Example:

Through slow practice you figured that the fourth finger is a little too flat. Be aware of it and don’t try to play it higher, think about it, then perform it. Next time you play it, you’ll fix it immediately.

 

4) Be aware of your body. With slow practice you will have enough time to notice a variety of things including how your body behaves.

Are you tensing up 5 measures before that hard passage?

I bet you will notice if you practice slow.

  1. a)Feelyour shoulders, fingers, hands, forearms, mouth, cheeks and every other part of the body that could be involved in your playing.
  2. b) Replay the excerpts with a new mind set- relaxation.

If you understand your machine’s needs and give it what it needs, then it will repay you by giving you a strong base. You two must work together as a team (yes, I mean you and your brain). It is the only way to feel the owner of a piece of music.

Slow Practice Means More Time for the Brain to Think

When you study slowly you forget slowly.

– Itzhak Perlman

 

Carol

October 11, 2012     0 Comments   , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How To Be The Best Performer

Want to be among the top 1% of classical music performers?

Then you have to be different.

First, you must behave like the musician you want to become. That way you will trick your mind to do the same things you already do but differently. It’s all a psychological game. You think it, you do it!

You can do it only if you really, really, want to.

(1 really is not enough—you need 2 reallys to be an “elite” performer)

Next, you’ll like to dedicate some time to master the following:

The Basics of your instrument.

Did you get it?

They are everything.

You think you know legato but you really don’t.

Know what?

You can play for 50 years and you will still have to practice legato to maintain the same level.

Basics are for life and if you try to make them your best friend, they will accompany you and protect you from the evil (technical problems).

If you apply this, you will be among the top 5% of the performers out there. You hear them playing the big concertos—so what? If it’s not clean, in tune, rushed, why bother?

Basics are for life, don’t forget. Do it constantly for a couple of years and I will see you at the top of the mountain.

Becoming an Elite

You are not a complete “elite” performer until you reach the 1% of them—let’s get you there.

You have to go through all of this: Survive an Audition, Follow Your Dreams Like You Follow a Score, Live Through Music, Watch 3 Ted Talks for Classical Musicians, Tell a Story, Reach Some Goals in Music, Be a Good Orchestra Musician,Make a Living as a Classical Musician (or at least try), Practice Performance,Recover From a Bad Performance, Convince Your Mother that You Should Major in Music, Develop the Art of listening, Keep the Magic in Music After 10 Years of Playing,Grow as a Person in Order to Grow as a Musician, etc, etc, etc.

You have to experience a life in music, let the years go by and understand what you are getting into. If you survive those years then you are almost good to succeed.

A positive attitude/mindset is all you need to make it happen.

As you probably know, music is hard as hell! Achieving your goals in music will require love for what you do—always (for the rest of your time on earth).

You will fail and you will have to get up, just try to learn fast.

You will play horrible; it’s ok, for you can play better another day.

You will… a million more other things, but you will overcome them because you love it, remember?

What is elite after all?

Elite means a group of people that are considered to be the best in a particular society because of power, talent or wealth. Yeah, of course I Googled that.

For musicians I would reorder it like this: talent, power and wealth. Talent leads to power as it leads you to wealth. But you don’t care about that right? You just want to be an awesome performer? 😉

(If you want to make money that’s another post: How to Make Money and Find Gigs or Make Art and Money at The Same Time )

Being part of the elite is more than just practicing and performing.

Read carefully!

It is a way of life that requires a lot of sacrifices with and extraordinary paycheck—not money though—but self-respect, gratitude and wisdom. A life so rewarding that money could not get even close the final product.

To sum it up, achieving something of this magnitude requires a lot of focus for many hours a day. Only those who persevere will win. If you are involved already for many years, you might as well give the extra mile to get those awesome results!

This post in a few words:

· Basics (daily)

· Experience a life in music(years, it takes time)

· Positive attitude/mindset—at all times

· Love for what you do

Get the DISCIPLINE ASAP, it is the # 1 enemy. Well, procrastination is really the enemy but you get the point.

If you’d like more advice on the subject I have combined personal development with musicianship in this guide. Check it out!

I wish you great success and good vibes toward your elite status.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it! On Facebook or Sumble Upon would be great!

Feel free to reply to this email and/or share some comments!

Carol

September 20, 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   , , , , , ,

Weezic : Play With a Symphony Orchestra at Home

How many musicians play alone with their score and metronome? How many musicians dream of playing concertos but will never have the chance to play with a real orchestra? Too many!

http:/weezic.com is a new website for classical musicians, aiming to give them the opportunity to play with orchestra accompaniments. On Weezic, you can find thousands of titles in sheet music for free and play along with a virtual orchestra. Contrary to all the “minus one” CD backing-tracks, accompaniments on Weezic are completely customizable:

– each instrument part has a separate track so you can choose which part you want to hear or not.

– it is possible to set your own tempo: slow down the accompaniment and accelerate progressively, in order to work slowly any hard part.

– you can even change the tonality of the accompaniment. This last feature allows musicians with instrument tuned differently (pianos tuned slightly above or below A=440 Hz, baroque flutes tuned at A=415 Hz etc.) to play with the accompaniments.

It is then possible to save mp3 files of your customized backing-track, in order to use it where you want.

With this new website, every musician can practice great classical works at his own pace, and feel the thrill of the soloist or the orchestra musician, at home.

Hundreds of classical works are available (duos, trios, quartets, symphonies, concertos..), and new accompaniments are released every week.

Bored of practicing alone? Visit Weezic, and never play alone again!

 

Carol

June 12, 2012     0 Comments   , , , ,

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