Wednesday, May 31, 2017
This is my LAST post of my self-assigned 31 Posts in 31 Days Challenge! I decided to do the challenge because I wanted to add a lot of new content to the blog and also spread the word and ask for your help with the Maverick Flute Choir GoFundMe Campaign.
Quick description: The fundraising campaign is to help my students attend the National Flute Association Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota this summer! The MFC was invited to perform our original collaborative work,
The Princess & The Dragon: A Musical Play for Flute Choir
on Friday, August 11th (Flute Choir Showcase No. 1 which starts at 8:30am, but third on the program, so really at 9:30am).
It was quite an adventure last year doing a "musical play" for the first time! As you can glimpse in the picture above, there were costumes, a plot line with lots of drama and, in addition to the original flute music, lots of speaking parts! My students and I learned so much about what it means to create drama on stage in the most literal sense.
Along the way, it was inspiring to see in real life how many connections there are between musicians and actors. As my students became better and better actors, they developed an understanding that we could reference later in more traditional rehearsals and lessons.
Here are just some of the ways that acting in a play helped my students with "regular" flute playing skills:
* Resonance and projection
* Clear and understandable pacing
* Structural awareness
* Contrast in pitch and volume
* Larger than life emotional expression
* Physical gestures and body language
* Breathing and presence
* Working together as an ensemble
* Foreground vs. background
* Theme and variation
* Tangible audience connection
It's such a wonderful gift that I can now say things to my students like, "Remember in Princess & The Dragon when..."
We now have an unlimited supply of shared memories and references that are made even more special because we created the musical play together.
I hope to see you at NFA and I can't wait to share this play with you! The music is lovely, the story is about flute players, and the lessons in the play are heartwarming. I literally laughed and cried every time we did this play last year :-).
If you haven't donated yet, I'll ask you one more time to consider giving what you can. I really and truly appreciate any contribution you can make to helping my students attend the convention!
Here are some links for your convenience:
Thank you and happy practicing!!
P.S. Here is a picture of the beautiful journal you will receive for a donation of $40 or more to the MFC GoFundMe Campaign. Just be sure to email your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org after you donate.
Post 30 of 31 for May 2017
I'm very proud of the collection of 100 Practice Games found in Chapter 8 of The Aspiring Flutist's Practice Companion. So you can see the different categories and all of the different practice challenges the games address, I've included a picture of the table of contents below and even included a sample PDF here.
Even though all 100 games can spice up your practice sessions and help you solve any practice problem, there's one practice game that didn't make it into the chapter. I call it...
The Best Practice Game in the World
Old School Practicing
having enough patience to sit your butt down, turn on the metronome to a tempo as slow as you can possibly stand it (maybe even a little slower), and simply start practicing! Care about every detail and work until you can play an entire section or piece beautifully and accurately at your crazy slow, insanely patient tempo.
move the metronome up...
Rinse and repeat until you've learned the piece up to tempo and can play it beautifully and accurately every single time!
(You can also do this in reverse by starting at a fast tempo and working down to a slow tempo. In my book, this is described as Practice Game #49 called Tempo Therapy).
The truth is, that this kind of practicing is, was, and always will be the most tried and true method for learning music really, really well.
If you're ready for this kind of practice, I am excited for all of the music will be able to learn, all of the practice challenges you will be able to solve, and all of the personal and life lessons you will learn while you spend quality (almost magical) time practicing.
if you're not quite ready for this kind of practicing...
Not to worry! You can also do all of the things I just described by using a variety of fun and entertaining practice games found in Chapter 8 of my book :-).
P.S. I'm almost done with my 31 Posts in 31 Days Challenge! To see the other posts from May 2017, click HERE.
Do You Practice Like a Pro? Quiz
Answer the following questions and find out! Keep track of your answers so you can read your results at the end of the quiz.
Before you take the quiz, would you take a couple of minutes to donate to the Maverick Flute Choir GoFundMe Campaign? Thanks!
1. How often you look forward to practicing?
b. Most of the time
d. Not often
2. How often do you practice?
a. Every day
b. Almost every day
c. A few times a week
d. Every once in a while
3. How often do you procrastinate practicing?
b. Every once in a while
c. Pretty often
d. When do I not procrastinate practicing?
4. How high is practicing on your priority list?
a. Very high
c. Pretty important
d. I practice after all my other to-dos are done
5. How productive does your practice feel?
a. Extremely productive
b. Often productive
c. Occasionally productive
d. I really struggle with productive practice
6. Which of the following most resembles your mood during a typical practice session?
a. Calm, clear, focused, and often inspired
7. How often do you take breaks while practicing?
a. I take little breaks often and bigger breaks as needed
b. I stay very focused and seldom take breaks
c. I feel like I don't have time to take breaks
d. If I need a break, I just decide to practice later
8. What is the pace of your practicing generally like?
a. Easy, but flowing
b. Pushing forward
c. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow
d. Often hurried or frantic
9. How confident do you feel in your ability to solve practice challenges?
a. Very confident
b. Pretty confident
c. Somewhat confident
10. How often do you experience anxiety during a practice session?
d. Almost always
11. How long are your practice sessions?
a. As long as I need to stay in great flute shape and be productive
b. As long as I can with my busy schedule
c. Not very long
d. I have trouble practicing for more than a few minutes.
12. Which one of the following practicing superpowers would you most like to have?
a. The ability to stop time so I can practice as much as I want!
b. The ability to solve any practice challenge.
c. The ability to make practicing go by faster.
d. The ability to skip practicing but still get the benefits.
13. How many repetitions do you typically allow yourself when solving practicing challenges or learning new music?
a. As many as it takes to feel progress
b. As many as it takes to play it perfectly
c. As many as I can play before I get frustrated
d. I don't often use repetitions in my practice
14. If your best friend were to ask you how your practicing has been going lately, what are you most likely to say?
a. Great! Let me tell you about this new piece I've been learning.
b. It's really hard work, but I know it's worth it.
c. Well, you know how it goes...
d. Ugh. Let's talk about something else!
Now, tally your score!
a = 3 points
b = 2 points
c = 1 point
d = 0 points
If your score was 39 to 42... you practice like a pro!
You generally have a good attitude when it comes to practicing and you place practicing high on your priority list. You balance patience and productivity so that you can give yourself plenty of time to learn your music but also prepare your music well for upcoming performances. You aren't too intimidated by difficult practice projects and believe in your ability to continue growing as a musician every time you practice.
If your score was 30-38...
Good start! You are definitely on your way to practicing like a pro, but there is still room for improvement. Read the description above to see what practicing like a pro can feel like! You can also browse through all the "a" answers in the quiz to get some new ideas for more self-inspired and productive practice.
If your score was 20-29...
The good news is that you do care about practicing. The bad news is that you haven't learned how beneficial and satisfying practicing can actually be. Begin setting some new goals for better practice and take this quiz again in a week or so to see if you can improve your score!
If your score was below 20...
You are in need of a practicing makeover! If you would really like to become a better musician, it's important that you rethink the way you approach your practice sessions. Read through this entire quiz carefully so you can get some new ideas and begin improving right away.
Post 28 of 31 for May 2017
Do you struggle to play long phrases? Do you feel as though you are always running out of air? Is it frustrating to feel like the beautiful music you want to play would be just that... beautiful... if it weren't for the pesky need to breathe and blow to make it happen?
If this applies to you or your students, I want you to imagine the following scenario.
You walk up to the ATM shown in the picture above and put your bank card in. You take out $20 cash and then pause to check your balance before you finish. Much to your surprise, the balance has actually increased by $20!
Thinking this must surely be a mistake, you try taking out another $20 to see if the issue will correct itself. When you check your balance for the second time, you see that it has gone up yet again!
Torn between the lucky "free money" and the guilt over possibly doing something illegal, you call your bank. The friendly customer service agent tells you that it's no problem at all, this is just how the magic ATM in that particular location works. Anytime you take out money, you have more in your account.
Shaking your head in disbelief, you decide to play along and ask how many times you are allowed to take advantage of this extreme account perk. You laugh as the woman on the phone tells you that you are welcome to take out as much cash and accumulate as high a balance as you like.
Sound too good to be true?
Well... in many ways, this is how breathing works on the flute!
When you are stingy with your blowing, breathing in is harder and there is less momentum. When you blow freely, the momentum becomes more effortless and it is easier to inhale. The easier you blow, the easier you breathe, the easier you blow, and so on!
Even when budgeting your air over the course of a long, spinning, beautiful phrase, it is wise to blow a steady, flowing stream of air that feels alive and full of momentum. Without momentum and "generous air," the magical formula of "the more you give, the more you get" stops. With momentum, there is an unlimited, ever ready supply of air for you to enjoy.
Hopefully, you've noticed that this is true in life and love as well!
P.S. Thanks to those of you that have donated and have been thinking about donating to the Maverick Flute Choir GoFundMe Campaign. Looking forward to showing you how beautiful The Musician's Inspirational Practice Journals look soon (a gift to those who donate $40 or more)!
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Post 27 of 31 for May 2017
This post turned into a completely different post than it was going to be! Originally, I wanted to make a video coaching flutists to learn their full range chromatic scale in triplets.
I made the video.
The sound was atrocious.
It cut in and out... sometimes you couldn't hear me and sometimes the high register notes sounded gross.
I'm actually in a great mood! I could have felt that the time spent making the video was a waste, but I actually feel just the opposite. Here are all the reasons I'm glad I did it:
* I felt more comfortable talking to the camera than last time
* I realized that this is a great subject to making a video about
* I liked taking a couple of moments to throw in extra flute tips
* I realized that this could be the beginning of great future projects
and... last but not least...
* I realized I need a much better video camera!
(I'm not super tech savvy and could use advice btw. I'm thinking maybe a Zoom... Message me on FB if you have a recommendation - thanks!)
This kind of thinking definitely applies to practicing flute! It's tempting to just "throw away" mistakes you make, sounds you don't like, and practice approaches that didn't end up working immediately. Just like my video, however, it can be smart not to throw away ideas so quickly.
Here are some ways that "bad practicing" can be the beginning of great practicing!
* Weird sounds can be developed into beautiful tone colors
* Squeaking can be a reminder to re-balance or refocus
* Ineffective practice plans can be tweaked to more effective ones
* Ideas that don't work now may work later or in a different context
* Noticing mistakes now can save you time in the future
* Mistakes can be clues to bigger things you need to work on
* Figuring out what doesn't work leads you to what does!
In a nutshell, I hope that reading this post reminds you that there's actually no such thing as bad practicing unless you decide not to learn lessons from the mistakes.
(Just in case you're curious about the video I'm not going to use and you don't mind bearing with the sound fluctuations, here's a link: *Rough Sound* Chromatic Scale in Triplets Video).
As you know, I'm doing 31 Posts in 31 Days to raise money for the Maverick Flute Choir NFA trip this summer. Thanks for donating here!
Post 26 of 31 for May 2017
For this post, I created an audio recording that can be used as a tutorial, a practice inspiration, or even a way to calm down if a practice session feels frustrating.
The audio recording includes ideas from pg. 21 of The Aspiring Flutist's Practice Companion (click HERE for a book sample) and will hopefully give you or your students some encouragement to include more patience and focus during practice sessions. Teachers, this might be helpful for lessons, too!
Before you listen to the recording, will you take a moment to donate to the Maverick Flute Choir GoFundMe Campaign? Thanks!!