How to Avoid That Pain in the Neck…Some Tips for Saxophonists
“I’m getting headaches when I play for a while.”
“The back of my neck hurts all the time.”
“My upper back and shoulder blades hurt.”
These are some of the complaints that some saxophonists have said at some point in their playing careers. These pains are not exclusive for beginners; some professionals I gig with have said the same things to me. In fact, I didn’t realize my own headaches were coming from my own neck strap until my colleagues spoke about their own situation. (Read more…)
If you truly want to enjoy your job as a teacher you have to have a strong network of people around you that look out for each others interests. In a school setting we think of this as being other teachers, our administrators, and in some cases extending out to our students and parental organizations. There is another group of people out there that are also working hard to make sure you succeed. They may not be directly tied to your school or your ensembles, but their success is directly tied to your success. Those people are the music retailers and shop owners in our communities that provide us with the music, supplies, instruments, and specialized services that are a vital part of making music in both public and private school and they can help you in many ways you may not have been aware of.
Welcome to my first post on the MTH blog. I’m looking forward to getting started, and to sharing my thoughts about music with fellow teachers, students, performers, and music lovers.
a musical conversation, pieter de hooch, 1674
I’ve spent a lot of time working as a performer, and also an academic researcher, and I love both these pursuits. But it is teaching music that I always come back to, and that I find the most fascinating and surprising. Teaching offers me the wonderful opportunity to pass on my love of and interest in music and music making, and to learn from my students in studio lessons, masterclasses, tutorials, and performances. (Read more…)
Do you want to show available slots so all students can see them on their calendar, and book the slot for a makeup lesson? You can do this easily.
When a student schedules a makeup lesson on the calendar, the calendar will close it’s view to all of the other students, and only be visible by the student who scheduled the make-up lesson. This is how you can do this:
Create an event for the day and time for the make-up lesson.
Choose “For All Students” instead of “Choose Student(s)”.
Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472) coined the term Renaissance Man after applying the concept of Renaissance Humanism and opined that such a man would be able “to do all things if he will.” Even though Leonardo da Vinci was only 20 when Alberti died, he more than fulfilled the elder man’s vision. He sketched diagrams for 20th century parachutes by observing falling leaves, drew up plans for a submarine, and sketched a helicopter after seeing the whirling seeds of the maple tree.
“Music is the food of the soul” – Leonardo da Vinci
In addition to these scientific pursuits, he found time to be one of the greatest artists of all time. Many people don’t know, however, that this incredible thinker was also a musician. According to his biographers, Leonardo was an outstanding lira da braccio player for his time, and he used this viola type instrument to improvise while he sang. He also played the lute and probably the organ. (Read more…)
Every serious guitarist inevitably comes across modes as they hone their improvisational chops. Unfortunately, they often confuse and in turn aren’t used very much because they aren’t understood. The goal of part 1 of this posting is to simplify the Dorian mode, eliminating confusion while providing a few practice tips. Part 2 will explain why we use Dorian, and what chord progressions lead to Dorian being applicable.
First, notice the end of the previous paragraph. I referred to the Dorian mode as a scale. Why? Partly because I am already getting tired of typing D-o-r-i-a-n, but also because for us to use it when we improvise, we should think of it as just another scale—much like the major scale, and even more like the minor scale. (Read more…)
I write an annual Studio Report to highlight my studio activities throughout the year, including records of student achievements, my own concerts and professional developments, and new programs/softwares/equipments I have to offer my students. The report is usually done at the end of the school year (June).
This year, I am doing something new. I am doing a Studio Yearbook – a photo book! They say a picture is worth a thousand words!
I am so pleased with the result. Here is how I did it:
A Pleyel was Chopin’s favorite piano; he once said, “when I’m feeling energetic and strong enough to find my own sound, I need a Pleyel piano.” Ignaz Pleyel, a student, friend and confidant of Franz Josef Haydn, began producing pianos in 1807. His innovations include the first upright pianos in France, the “sustained” sound and metallic frames. In addition to Chopin, such luminaries as Stravinsky, Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Ravel, Liszt and Grieg made Pleyel pianos their darlings too. Watch pianist Janina Fialkowska introduce and play a 1848 Pleyel grand piano:
Pleyel closing the Saint-Denis Workshop
After more than 200 years producing 250,000 of the highest-quality pianos in the French tradition, Pleyel will be closing the doors of its one remaining factory. Undercut by “business is war” tactics from Asian piano makers, Pleyel’s insistence on producing hand-crafted, tailor-made works of art instead of mass-produced models failed. The c (Read more…)
There’s been a buzz in the press about research showing the benefits of music study. The gist: it’s been found that music is closely tied to intelligence and other desirable traits. In other words, “it’s good for you.” There’s also been talk that there is lack of substantial evidence to back up these claims. And then there’s talk amongst musicians, many of whom are dismayed by the fact that these side benefits are being touted when really music stands alone as its own subject, one beyond compare and undeniably the highest art form.
Although I understand those idealistic arguments of fellow musicians, I pose these questions:
1) Why should we be ashamed of the scientific findings surrounding music study when they provide free advertising, maybe somewhat false advertising but still FREE and offer greater exposure in the press?
2) Why do we seem to hang out in our own little corner of the world, self-righteous, worn out, under paid and frustrated (Read more…)
Life-after-music for teachers might be full of family, work, caregiving, education, etc. For stressful times I recommend a bare-to-the-bones group (master) class rather than anything prep-intensive. I couldn’t have been more pleased with my latest. I use these classes partly to prepare students for a recital, partly to take advantage of teaching in a different setting, and partly to allow them to spend time with others in private instruction (let them know they’re not alone J).
Ahead of Time:
I searched for possible games and found or invented four. (Read more…)
I can’t even imagine starting a new student without using Bernard Shaak’s Piano Partners series. This set of three books helps me lay a solid foundation for everything that is to come.
The Piano Partners books were initially developed in the studio of master teachers Bernard and Carolyn Shaak, in Denver, Colorado, as they team-taught for many years until Bernard died unexpectedly. Carolyn would teach the children, while Bernie would teach the parent the same lesson in an adjoining studio, enabling the parent to continue the lessons throughout the week at home, thus truly becoming “piano partners.” The wonderful parent/child duets throughout the books made this an exciting experience.
Right from the start, book one, the “pink” book, interests the student in the geography of the keyboard. They learn very quickly how to navigate around the black key groups. Peter, Peter on the black keys sends them home from their very first lesson with a real song under their fingers. (Read more…)