Tips for Classical Musicians

Tag: Life Improvement

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   , , , , , ,

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   , , , , , ,

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   , , , , , , , , ,

What Does it Take To Be A Soloist ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I believe soloists earn their position in this game.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Carol

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

Michael Jordan’s Advice to Musicians

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That quote is very well related to the next one…

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

No doubt about it!

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

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

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

Sounds familiar?

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

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

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

 

Carol

August 11, 2012     0 Comments   , , , ,

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   , , , ,

Why I Think Joshua Bell Is So Successful

If you are a musician, especially a string player, chances are that you’ve heard bad things about Joshua Bell. Everybody seems to hate his movements or something- I haven’t found out yet what it is that people hate the most from him. Many of my colleagues were discussing the other day how he always plays out of tune, how dramatic his expressions are and how much he sweats when he performs. I barely hear good things about this violinist other than the fact that all the girls love his hair.

 

I think that Joshua Bell is a great artist despite his ability to move all over the stage. He is confident in what he does, he works extremely hard and he has a good sense of what the business of music is. It is well proved that in all of his concerts he totally sells what he is offering not only by making an entire “show” while playing, but also with his capacity of being confident on stage. This shouldn’t be that hard for him since he has been doing it since he was 4. Anyway, Bell believes in what he does and although he knows a lot of people criticize his work, he remains intact. He practices every day, he records a new album every few months, he collaborates with pop artists and over everything he maintains the same stamina on the things he does. This may not have anything to do with his personality or how he treated you in that last concert where you couldn’t take a picture with him, but that is certainly why he has a 4 million dollar Stradivarius. He travels all over the world convincing an audience that he is the man. The one man who’s going to make you feel exactly what Bruch wanted to say in his second violin concerto or what Tchaikovsky meant in his Souvenir d’un lieu cher. It is obvious that he wants to connect with his audience in a unique way like any soloist.

My conclusion is that those musicians who gossip and talk about Bell in a bad way don’t understand his abilities nor appreciate those positive characteristics which made him the famous violinist he is and his successful career. They might be jealous of him- I thought, there is no other explanation for so many complains. He has been awarded many times and is considered one of the best violinist in the world by top reviewers, why in the world people say he is a bad violinist? I guess he is a bad violinist with a lot of luck, perhaps.

I believe it takes a lot of talent to do what he does- it also takes a lot of work to be giving as many concerts and also collaborating with the film industry and the pop world. He might not be the best violinist but if my mom watches him perform she will love him, and most of the people who go to his concerts are non-musicians, of course. He knows how to play the game of winning your heart, especially when it comes to convince the general public that he is the rock star of classical music. No matter what your fellow classical musicians think- he still has a 4 million dollar violin-and that means he knows how to run this business. That is why he is where he is today.

 

Carol

May 15, 2011     0 Comments   ,

13 Qualities of a Successful Musician

1.Is Responsible

2. Have Many Goals

3. Is a Smart Planner

4. Cares about Music Theory

5. Is a Hard Worker

6. He/She Practice with different patterns and rhythms

7. Is best friend with the metronome

8. Take notes in Lessons or right After

9. Is a Good Listener in Chamber and Orchestral Music

10. Study his/her own repertoire with the full score

11. Respects Contemporary music

12. Is Ego free

13. Is Constantly growing and learning new things

 

Carol

February 23, 2011     0 Comments   , , , , , ,

5 Reasons Why You Should Like Classical Music

It Helps Your Brain Activities

When you listen to classical music, you can fine tune your brain to:

  • Improve memory
  • Control pain
  • Enhance creativity
  • Increase motivation

Reduce Stress and Anxiety

In a hospital study, researchers found that heart patients received the same anti-anxiety benefits from listening to 30 minutes of classical music as they did from taking the drug Valium.

Has a Positive Effect on Your Linguistic Abilities

Researchers had found that those who listened to Vivaldi while exercising had increased scores on verbal fluency tests after their workouts compared to those who exercised without music.

It Will Make You Smarter

Listening to Mozart (especially the piano concertos) may temporarily increase one’s IQ and produce many other beneficial effects on mental function.

It is the most complex of all the music genres

Classical music can be explained by professional musicians who analyze the structure, harmony, form and orchestration of a piece. It takes a considerable amount of knowledge and technique to work in depth the structure of classical music and perform it with great level of understanding.This is why classical musicians are more likely to play any other music genre very easily.

 

Carol

April 15, 2010     0 Comments   , , , ,

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