Tim Topham: On How to Maximize Your Effectiveness When Teaching Lessons Online

Tim Topham: On How to Maximize Your Effectiveness When Teaching Lessons Online

So…the last week has been…umm…interesting. Universities and K-12 schools have shut down either temporarily or through the end of the semester, teachers around the world are scrambling to figure out how to transition their teaching to zoom or other online platforms literally overnight, and cats and dogs are mystified by the sudden 24/7 presence of their humans. Needless to say, even as someone who started a blog largely to justify spending an inordinate amount of time playing with…


Lynne Aspnes: On Breathing, Singing, and the Value of Cultivating a Diverse Range of Musical Influences

Lynne Aspnes: On Singing, Breathing, and the Value of Cultivating a Diverse Range of Musical Influences

I suspect that most musicians, at some point or another, have been asked to sing in a lesson. The point being, that we should sometimes put aside the technical nuts and bolts of playing our instruments, and focus more on the music itself. For whatever reason, I always found singing in front of my teacher to be an incredibly embarrassing experience, and even though I understood the idea on an intellectual level, I don’t know that I ever really understood the point of this, and certainly never…


Jennifer Johnson: On Learning to Play More Effortlessly, Through a Better Understanding of the True Design of Your Body

Jennifer Johnson: On Learning to Play More Effortlessly, Through a Better Understanding of the True Design of Your Body

You know when you need to hang a frame, but can’t find a hammer, so you decide to put a nail in the wall with the handle of a screwdriver, and end up making a mess of the wall or hurting yourself? Well, that’s not too far off from what I would sometimes do in the practice room, when it came to technical challenges, whether it was playing chords in tune, or playing faster, louder, or softer. When I was trying to learn up-bow staccato, for instance, I quickly discovered that my elbow and wrist…


Nathan Hughes: On Being Honest in the Practice Room, and Learning How to Balance Being Analytical and Being Expressive

Nathan Hughes: On Practice Room Honesty, and Learning How to Balance Being Analytical and Being Expressive

I don’t know if it’s just me, or if musicians are a finicky bunch in general, but I was always really sensitive about how my hands felt, as far back as I can remember. For instance, even as a little kid, I didn’t like touching anything that was sticky – e.g. the parmesan cheese and red pepper shakers in restaurants. And not because that’s just gross, but because if my hands were feeling icky, I couldn’t shift smoothly. And if I couldn’t shift comfortably, it was hard to play in…


Erik Ralske: On How to Develop a Stronger Internal Pulse, and the Paradoxical Benefits of Giving Yourself Permission to Miss Notes

Erik Ralske: On Developing a Stronger Rhythmic Pulse, and the Paradoxical Benefits of Giving Yourself Permission to Miss Notes

When I was growing up, I always thought learning music followed a pretty simple, logical, linear path. Learn the notes. Play those notes in tune. With a pretty sound. Add dynamics, articulation, make sure I’m honoring the Italian words, and that everything sounds “musical.” Or in other words, accuracy first, musicality second. I was also severely allergic to metronomes. And I rationalized my avoidance by telling myself that subdividing was a sure-fire way to sound more robotic and…