Wednesday, December 18, 2013

One Word Lessons

Are you motivated after lessons, but don't know where to start? With so many assignments it is tough to get your mind around them all, let alone your embouchure. Usually however, there is a key concept that needs work, such as sound, expression, or accuracy for instance. Try this:  Boil your lesson down to one word that will best characterize your focus for the day.

Your word of the day could be any word that prompts you to be especially alert to what you want to focus on.  For example, here are a few that have produced nice results:  APPLAUSE, ROMANTIC, PRECISE, AGILE, RAVISHING, PINPOINT, SIZZLE, SWEETNESS, DELIBERATE, SUBTLE, DOMINATING, HEROIC.

What words work wonders for you?  Words are as powerful as music.  Use them to motivate your practice and performance.      

    Tuesday, December 17, 2013

    Posted Reminders

    Posted one-sentence lesson notes for us dummies:
    • I refuse to stink!
    • It's not how much you practice, but how. 
    • Don't waste any notes today!
    • Don't sound like a student! 
    • Listen to imitate.
    • Hear it before you play it.
    • Got air?
    • Feel the rhythm first.
    • Don't just practice, compete!
    • Determine not to get tired.
    • Posture matters.
    • Play extremely loud.
    • Be the softest player ever.
    • Practice great leaps and bounds.
    • Tone on the short notes matters.
    • Put singers to shame.
    • Save it, but give it all! 
    • Make your day!

    Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    Brilliance in Brevity

    Long teaching rants with too much information is not nearly as impressive as one powerful moment of inspiration. The teacher's mission is to discern the best way to communicate quickly and effectively with each student.  Just say it, or play it, and then get out of the way and see what happens.  The longer it takes to explain, the less successful. The goal is to make a lasting impact in the least amount of time. Needed: brevity and brilliance.

    Think of the most impressive teaching you received. A vivid impression was made which you remember to this today.  That's the goal, a precise, well-planned strategy of instruction and inspiration. 

    Here are a few memorable moments from my teachers which made a lasting impression on me:
    • "Don't play like a student!"
    •  "You could be a little more laid back."
    • "Your notes must speak just like that!" (at the snap of the fingers).
    • "In the orchestra you have to be able to play so (expletive) loud."
    • The Zarathustra octave calls were so shocking I could almost see the notes flying straight into the audience. 
    • With only a gesture, the conductor communicated exactly what he wanted without ever speaking a word.  (The best conductors spoke very little English.)
    • Without saying a thing, he picked up my horn and fixed my cracking F natural by blasting that note into its place.  He then returned my horn, satisfied that the problem had been permanently solved. It worked like a charm!
    • "Rhythm is relentless!" as he repeatedly pounded his hand onto the desk.
    • I thought my Pictures Promenade was really good.  Then came that memorable comment from the committee: "Very good. Now play it in tune." 

    Great teaching can happen quickly, as can great learning. Keep a journal of what inspired you.  You'll need it for yourself and for your students.  Brevity and brilliance work wonders.