June 26, 2009 16:17
Next month the family plans to trek the U.S. via Prius, and I'm trying to decide whether or not to bring a violin, probably my American 20th c. one.
I can think of a lot of reasons not to:
It will melt in the car
I'll have to bring it in everywhere we go
I might leave it somewhere
There's no room for it
And reasons to bring it:
So I can practice
If we meet a band of gypsies, Texas fiddlers or subway buskers in DC, I can whip out my fiddle and join the fun
I want to bring it
In sum: my reasons for wanting to take it are romantic, while my reasons for wanting to leave it are practical. What should I do?
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June 19, 2009 12:16
What bright-eyed students I had this week! Instead of coming after school, ragged and tired from a long day, they came in the morning. They seemed so fresh and ready to learn, we had great lessons.
It made me think, what would it be like if I got these kiddos in the morning all year long? Would we make more progress? And are all the kids better in the morning, or just these guys?
I liked teaching better in the morning, but as a rule, I'm not always a morning person. In college, I don't think a morning lesson would have worked for me, for example. And very often, I like to practice in the evening, I'm just more "in the mood."
When is your favorite time of day to teach a lesson, or take a lesson? Just vote on whichever you do the most, teach or take lessons.
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June 12, 2009 14:39
This week, Anastasia Khitruk's blog on "Nature vs. Nurture" got me thinking about the big questions in life.
This one is probably as old as music itself: is musical talent mostly the result of nature, or nurture?
I say "mostly," because we all know that it involves at least a degree of both.
Nature=People are either born with musical talent, or not.
Nurture=Musical talent is a function of environment; it can be taught.
Okay, vote first, and then I'll share my thoughts:
When I was younger, I believed that being musical was all a function of natural talent. Why? Because I had plenty of friends who couldn't match a pitch, couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. Why was that? Clearly, they weren't talented.
Then, a friend of mine who had a very difficult time singing in tune, actually learned how to do so, and to do so even when surrounded with all kinds of harmony, while in college! This didn't fit my notions. I thought people either had a concept of pitch, or not -- not that they could "learn" pitch!
Then of course, I started teaching, and I learned about the philosophy of Shinichi Suzuki, who believed in "talent education." That is, everyone is born with talent, if it is only cultivated in the right environment.
Teaching can be very interesting, because one certainly gets a first impression of a student, and for me, those impressions are subject to change. Someone may seem very "talented," yet if they don't work and practice, they still get nowhere. Others may not seem as natural with the instrument, but through hard work, their ability flowers over time. And it must be admitted, some rise meteorically, whatever you do.
At this point, I believe that everyone has natural talent, but that we are born with different inclinations. Certain people are inclined to spend time perfecting music, and those people grow in their ability and in their love for music. Others are inclined to mix paints for hours on end, or to shoot a ball into a hoop, or to learn juggling. They don't really see the point in doing this work in music.
For instance: sometimes I work hard with a student on one passage in a piece of music. One student might finally succeed, then say, "I did it, can we PLEASE STOP already!" Another, given the same situation, will finally succeed, then without any prompting say, "I did it! Can I do it again?" then do it again and again and again. Who is the musician? Yes, it's the nutcase who wants to do it again and again and again!
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June 5, 2009 14:40
I have to say that my love of good stories. as well as all this talk about auditions, won out this week over my desire to be completely positive...
I suppose there is a theoretical chance that some of us have had a 100 percent positive experience with auditions, but most people who take risks and seek to better themselves run up against the occasional glitch, or challenge, or outright failure, in their quest. It can even happen quite early on, for example for me: the first time I tried out for the Young Artists Orchestra of Denver, when I was 12. Mr. Topilow, I'm so sorry that I threw up, nearly all over your lap...
Please take survey and do include your most vivid story below!
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More entries: May 2009