Monday, July 31, 2006

More on "talent"

Chris Foley has written that, like me, he is rather skeptical of the idea of inborn "talent":
Personally, I've never been a great believer in talent. The t-word gets bandied about rather indiscriminately in the musical field, especially with the poor kids who get branded very early on as either having or not having it. ... former students of mine that have gone on to work in the profession are often not the ones who were the official superstars in their university years, but usually the ones who decided to bear down and do the work, get along with those around them, and knock on the most doors after graduation.

Whew, 2 posts in one day, I'm on fire!

30 day trial of New Regime!!

I can easily get myself all tied up in knots trying to write something 'worthwhile' to post here, which of course results in me not writing anything at all! Taking inspiration from Steve Pavlina's 30 day trial I have decided to post here for the next 30 days - whether I feel I have something useful to say or not. I know from doing the Artists Way morning pages that even when you don't think there is anything interesting to write about, if you just sit down and start sometimes unexpected things turn up on the page.

So I ask you to please bear with me on the days when there really is nothing of interest, but hopefully that won't happen too often!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I have just discovered a wonderful thing...

...Vanilla yoghurt and freshly grated nutmeg. Go try it!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

What not to do

A not to do list.

I could add: do not piss fart around on the internet when you're supposed to be practicing!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Practice planning

So far today I have done just over half the practice I want to do. I have two hours left to go. I still feel as though I am learning how to practice, that I am constantly discovering new ways of learning, and a more efficient technique. No-one every really taught me how to practice, and it has taken me a long time to figure out some really important things.

Only a few weeks ago I realised how important planning was in my practice. For the first half of this year I had been practicing fairly aimlessly, without a clear picture of what I wanted to achieve in each practice session. When I started planning each session and working out how much time I was going to spend on each piece I planned to work on, the task in front of me seemed much clearer. It was also less daunting, because I had broken up an amorphous 4-hour block into much smaller sections.

Planning also makes it much easier to stay focussed, as the big-picture thinking has been done in the planning stage, and I am free to concentrate on the problem at hand in the actual practice time - I am not getting worried about all the other pieces I have to practice because I know that I have scheduled time for them.

I have also found it useful to do short bursts on difficult sections. If I spend 30 minutes trying to deconstruct a tricky rhythm or work out complex fingering I often get frustrated and give up. But if I tackle it 5 minutes at a time, I can come at it fresh each time, and soon I can start to spend longer on it. This is a bit like Merlin Mann's procrastination dash I guess :)

Planning my practice time is a bit like writing a To Do list, really. It gets all the niggling reminders out of my head and onto the paper, so I can rest assured that I've covered everything and just follow the plan, concentrating on what I am actually working on, right now.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Why artists should not feel guilty about having a life

If you're an artist, you enrich the lives of others. Your own life, therefore, needs to be enriched to start with. Don't believe that the ultimate flash of divine inspiration comes only through being a stressed-out workaholic.

Read the full article here. Thanks to Scratch my Brain for the linksky.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Some notes about music theory

I was going to write something witty and wonderful here, but I am too tired so I will just point you in the direction of Kyle Gann's article instead. Thanks to Sounds and Fury for the link.

Cheerio! I'm off to collect all my stuff for tomorrow, shower and jump into bed.

I promise I will write more soon, I know you're all dying to hear all the angsty details of my life, but you'll have to be patient.
really I am sorry

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Morning Coffee

In my dressing gown with the curtains shut, pretending I am hibernating.

For some reason I decided that the best music to listen to this morning was Beethoven's Violin Concerto. I really love the recording I have, with Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. It is somehow firm with a strong foundation, yet delicate without being wishy-washy. A few months ago, while listening to this recording, I began to notice the timpani, and the way they interact with the rest of the orchestra in this piece. Back in 1806, when this work was written, percussion instruments were still very much special effect instruments, and were often silent for much of the time, reserving their impact for moments of glory and drama. This piece, though, actually starts with a bar of solo timpani, which must have been quite bizzare for audiences at the first performance. Once I really started to listen to the timps I realised that they really underpin the whole first movement, with their little four-note, "bup-bup-bup-bah" motive. Who would have thunk that 20 minutes of music could grow out of four repeated notes?

So that is what I am listening to as I sit here in my slippers with my feet toasy warm drinking my coffee that is rapidly getting colder and less appetising.