Tips for Classical Musicians

Tag: symphony orchestra

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 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   , , , , , , ,

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   , , ,

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   , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Be A Smart Musician

Believe it or not, your knowledge on music history and theory will be reflected in your playing. It will help your performance unconsciously by understanding and visualizing patterns, hidden harmonies, structures etc.

Not convinced yet?

Go on YouTube and watch any interview by one of your favorite soloists!They often talk (know) about the time period the piece was composed, its relation to the modern orchestra and general impressions the contemporary audience may have. They also know the score (orchestra parts) like they know their hands.

Not convinced yet?

Yeahhhhhh, I know you are! 🙂

Anyway, as performers we approach music from a totally different angle. If we were composers, for example, elements like orchestration, harmonies and colors are supposed to be the primary focus. For us it’s sometimes technique, technique, technique.

So what can we do to expand that horizon?

How can we performers take it to the next level?

I believe the right answer stands by studying and analyzing how composers think.

If we understand composers then we can understand their music.

For example, let’s say that the composer is writing for the orchestra. He/She thinks and studies that instrument as a whole. Balance, melody line, accompaniment, colors, textures, harmonies, dynamics, contrast, ranges-that’s what’s going on in their heads. But, on top of that they have to know at least the basics of each instrument and their capabilities to write successfully for them.

Our job as performers constitutes to play those dynamics. Our job as a section is to play those dynamics as a section. If we play (p) instead of (pp), when (pp) is marked, then it is another piece. That (pp) has been thought as a complementary part of what’s going on around the orchestra–assuming we are working with a professional composer.

He studied orchestration. You studied clarinet. Trust him/her. 🙂

12 Things the Composer Might be Thinking While You Play Your Part

1. Dynamics are not being played as strictly as I thought them.

2. The oboist is not aware that his/her line is being doubled by another instrument.

3. Cello section is rhythmically helping the melody line. Please notice that!

4. They are obviously playing the root of the chord. It feels like they don’t even notice.

5. First violins are now complementing the harmony.

6. First violins tend to play sharp in upper positions. Why? Focus on the harmony guys!

7. Seconds can play more. I don’t hear them. They are really important.

8. Violas, forget the viola jokes you guys are essential in my music.

9. There is a xylophone in this piece. I don’t think the orchestra knows it.

10. That line is impossible to play, but is ok… I don’t care about the notes they are building a color.

11. I hope the musicians don’t notice I copied those measures from John Williams.

12. This composition was created to have an impact. Not so much about beautiful chords. I hope someone understands my purpose with the piece.

 

Carol

September 29, 2012     0 Comments   , , , ,

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