Tips for Classical Musicians

Category: Personal Development

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   , , ,

The Ignorant Musician (ME)

I was confused. Musicians were using the word “technique” in seminars and master classes and I felt they were speaking Mongunese. To me, it sounded like I needed tools from the Home Depot and work on my technique.

Yeah, laugh all you want. But that was a tough year. I had been playing my instrument for 3 years and was recently accepted to major in violin performance.

The term “colors” was another confusing one. How do you explain colors in music to a guy who is lost in a conservatory?

I was lost—and the worst violinist there. I felt bad. Who likes to be the least awesome? No body. And if you are last chair of the second violins (me), it’s pretty obvious.

I had to do something about it immediately. I studied my options but had no clue how to come out of that last chair. The only thing I knew was that my life was about to change…

I didn’t appreciate being the sucky violinist and I should’ve.

The first year as a conservatory student was the best for my development. I was lost and my skills sucked. But when you are the worst musician you can learn from everybody, not only the star players but from the average as well.

They are still better than you.

No matter what you hear or see or experience inside the conservatory, everything will affect you directly. You will level up rapidly because you’ve never seen or heard that before.

If you are passionate you’ll catch up quickly and I promise you’ll leave them behind. At least those who don’t commit the same way you do. Get rid of those first, then follow the star players.

Listen to their performances and don’t envy their playing. Admire them and know they’ve been doing it longer and working harder.

Awesomeness doesn’t come from drinking natural water,

it’s grown.

When you find yourself in the last position, analyze your options and learn from the guys on top. Your goal should be to be like them, no less.

You’ll be up for a long and difficult ride. Welcome to the path of the erudite.

For the empire!

Carol

July 14, 2013     0 Comments   , , , , , , ,

How to be Uncomfortable

What do a first violinist, second violinist, violist and a cellist need in order to play completely together?

(it’s not a light-bulb joke 🙂 )
The Answer: Get Uncomfortable
Counting calories is uncomfortable, so is practicing at 6 am. But what choice do we have? What about the results you are seeking?

Quartet rehearsal is not comfortable when the violist keeps rushing (we violinists never, ever, ever, ever rush, especially when playing 1st). Wouldn’t it be great if you all just play it incredible the first time?

But it isn’t that way.

So, how do we deal with being uncomfortable?

Fear no more! I’m here to lead the way! (Cheers, applause, mass noise, wooooooo). Thank you, thank you!

First of all, if you think about it, uncomfortable doesn’t mean you are in pain.

It means you are not within your comfort zone.

And that is also OK because when you jump out of your comfort zone, you explore new possibilities.

If my math is right, you’ll be exposed to a bizillion new things (good and bad) that you weren’t exposed before when you sat in your comfort zone. Exposure will leads to experiences and experiences will make you smarter. Isn’t that what everybody wants?

Is there any way at all I can make the uncomfortable

comfortable?

YOU CAN’T. But there are some tricks you can use to soften the process and still get incredible results.

How to be Ok with Uncomfortable
* Savor Every Moment – Put your first vegetable in your mouth and touch it lightly with your tongue. Now chew. It tastes bad but it’s not painful. Immerse yourself in the flavor, even if it gets uncomfortable, realize there is no pain. I bet you never tried this way before. Repeat the process various days and see if it gets better.

* Realize you are not alone – There are 7 billion people with the same problem. For them a couch is more comfy than flossing. Uncomfortable will always be uncomfortable, you can only learn how to soften the impact.

* Become the Hulk – Man up! Scream, awhhhahhhahahahhhh for a few seconds and just do it. Then freak out!

* Get a little uncomfortable – Start waking up at 10 am. The next day at 9:50 am, then 2 days later 9:40 am and so on, until you reach 7 am. Changes are gradual—otherwise you won’t succeed.

* Look for it – Find discomfort and get into it. Practice being uncomfortable and adjusting. Keep thinking about the results.

* Observe yourself – Develop the ability to see yourself running away from discomfort. Go back and say: “No, I’m learning to take discomfort” and then immerse again.
ARE YOU PART OF THE EMPIRE YET?

Carol

May 15, 2013     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   , , ,

The Joy of Being Alive

Music. Life. Humans. It’s what we are. What we do. We start every day exactly where we left it the day before. It’s a continuous cycle that builds a “new you” over time. But life is more than growing and becoming a professional. I would say life is mostly about being Happy. But also about some mystical behaviors that enhance who we really are.

Sadly, we often forget about these holdings. Most of the time, life goes by without any appreciation for the things we have. An average day can be forgotten easily. When we are bored we find something to do to get rid of our valuable time.

At the end of the day, you look back and the time was just gone. We could spend a few years “living” and the same thing may happen. You look back and Zap! Time is gone. And then I think… Is that what I live for? am I entirely happy by having this kind of life?

Should I be taking 100% advantage of the time? Maybe trying to become a productivity buff? Is it OK to play video games an entire day (once a week) and forget about practicing? What’s right and what’s wrong? What’s healthy? According to who?

What’s cool about life is that as you age, you get wiser. You’ve lived enough to tell what’s worth spending your time in. But for now, you must learn as you go. Try different things no matter what.

What old people usually say is that failure can be considered your best friend, for it teaches you some valuable lessons. On the other hand it can be your mortal enemy because it makes you feel like crap.

For me, happiness it’s a vicious process in which you feel that life stops for a certain amount of time until you prepare for the next scene. You maintain happiness as long as there is no happiness anymore. Then you have to ask the inevitable…

What happened to happiness? How do I get it back?

Solution:

Imagine a person standing and looking themselves from the shoes up. You have a whole body, you are the owner. You can do with it whatever you feel like. You can be fit or eat unhealthy—you can be awesome or be dull.

It is actually your responsibility to protect your assets. As you gain conscience, you will feel that happiness can be attained in matter of seconds. The cool thing is, that it can also stay as long as you want it to stay.

One thing we usually associated with happiness is our own professional goals.

Example; If you are a grand soloist, you are definitely happy!!. Why?

Because you have a very exposed career? Because you go on tours?

What if I am a music teacher and change the lives of thousands of kids? am I successful? Should I feel happy then? Again, according to who?

You determine what success means.

… then you can create your own interpretation of happiness.

Know that you were selected among thousands of organisms to be a human being—the highest class of living organisms (you could’ve been a giraffe  ). But instead, you were chosen (in our case) to make an impact with your music.

Somehow.

When you work toward changing people’s lives, you will be happy.

(whether you are a soloist or not)

But is not going to be easy. You will have to Persevere.

Yeah, I know you’ve read that word before on many of my blog posts. But it’s actually how you can keep the joy of being who you are.

As you persevere, you will have several encounters with your own persona. Those will be inevitable, sooner or later, you will realize that every single thing that makes you unique, counts.

Uniqueness works on your favor to help you stand out among the crowd.

Organization is also essential to define what you want to accomplish—what in the end will keep happiness around you.

It’s OK not to have an answer for everything right at this moment, the important thing is that you persevere and organize your life so that you remain in certain paths that lead to your main goal.

Stay on Earth.

Be grateful for what you have. Health, friends, family, etc. They complete the human being inside you—not the 8 hours a day in the practice room. Is the people around you who define the real you. When you go out, notice what’s around. Be grateful you have eyes to appreciate. Be grateful for as many things as you can—that satisfaction sends you through the right paths I talked earlier. That feeling, will help battle those “learning moments” so that you stick to your plan and avoid pitfalls.

Believe in learning. Believe in appreciation. Be aware of how small you are as an individual but also, how big and privileged you are to be alive and breathing.

You will make a difference in this world. Your music will change the life of thousands of people that you may not even know.

Reflect on that.

You are home practicing scales, stressed and overwhelmed by music but think of the final result—is a huge miracle. A miracle so big that you may not understand it completely.

The joy of being who you are should remain within yourself for the rest of your days. The spark that turns on when you are happy about something, can make a difference in other people’s lives. If we find a way to keep it alive by applying basic techniques of self-development, perhaps we could build a small army of self-disciplined people that influences a bigger mass by showing off the final result.

When you and me understand what make us who we are, the actual purpose of our existence, many elements unify. The universe itself will turn positive vibes in favor of our ideas. We will find success as a crowd and not as an individual. We’ll be able to strengthen the laces of human kind. Only by having this kind of behavior, may we prove, that this fictional world I just created could one day be a reality.

Carol

October 27, 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   , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Productivity for Musicians (Planning)

What is exactly is being productive? Does it mean staying focus for a period of time? Is it what I need to do in order to play at my best level?

Those were some of the questions I asked myself when I first approached the term productivity. I wanted a straight to the point guide. How can I prepare the Tchaikovsky concerto the fastest, easiest and most effective way?

Fear no more! I will explain productivity with stuff I’ve tried and what others have taught me.

Here we go!

If you subscribe to my colleague Dr. Noa Kageyama at his Bulletproofmusician blog, you will get a Practice Hacking Guide. This guide will get you on the right track.

It is evident that you need to be willing to work hard in order to change bad habits for good ones, but keep in mind that as a musician you’ve already build strong elements to do it. By spending many hours in the practice room you already considered a disciplined individual.

Now, the question is—how long should I practice?

Here are some good answers to that question! (You can come back after reading the whole post) J

How Many Hours I day Should I Practice (Must read)

http://www.guitartricks.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11952

http://www.violinist.com/blog/weekendvote/20094/9974/

Today I want to provide you with an effective productivity plan. Not just my opinion on how long you should practice but more like how to take 100% of your efforts home.

Planning

In order to take advantage of every second you destined to practice, you must have a plan.

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • How are you going to do that?
  • What strategies are you going to use?
  • How long will it take?

Planning a practice session is like planning out your life. You give direction and try to reach those goals while preparing other tasks. You can’t waste time—it’s limited.

Let’s say that you have 30 minutes to practice.

How would you get the most out of it?

How do you take 100% of your efforts home?

With 30 minutes you can easily take a big excerpt of music and work many things. Hopefully you picked a hard passage. Pick some technical as well as some musical problems.

30 Minutes

5 minutes| tuning each note. Slowly watching your fingers from note to note

5 minutes| figuring how you would phrase that passage

5 minutes| actually playing the phrase with dynamics, etc.

5 minutes| repeating hard fingerings, bowings,etc. Cleaning everything up.

10 minutes| using the metronome and trying to get it up to tempo.

30 minutes will change the life of those measures forever. You were completely focus on those measures and actually worked things separately. You can even combine tasks by working on technical and musical problems at the same time.

I can personally focus for only 40-50 minutes at a time. After that, I am not really100% concentrated. I get distracted and start playing things without thinking much.

Many experts on the subject talk about 50 minutes practice and 10 resting (1 hour of work).

My Schedule

40 minutes – Warming up, technique, etudes, scales

10 minutes- Break

50 minutes- Concerto

30 minutes- Break

40 minutes- Mozart concerto

10 minutes- Break

50 minutes- Orchestral music

Total = 3hour practice with 50 minutes resting.

If I do it twice a day I will have practiced 6 hours and rested 1 hour and 40 minutes.

To practice 6 hours (the healthy way) I will need at least 8 hours available.

By doing the above, I give my body and muscles the essential time to rest. My mind will also pay me later by retaining more information.

Productivity =  wanting to reach a certain level under a certain amount of time. (Read Increase Your Productivity by Shortening Your Day )

It’s been proven that when you work with a deadline, you do so more efficiently. You accomplish more in less time.

Finally, I would like you to read how this guy is productive.

Happy practicing!

Carol

 

October 2, 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   , , , , , ,

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