Every exercise and song you play today, do with metronome.
Try different speeds too and note what was challenging or easy.
Every exercise and song you play today, do with metronome.
Try different speeds too and note what was challenging or easy.
But what’s going to happen with your music?
While some of you will be looking forward to a break, others will be looking forward to having more time to practice.
This Article is for all of you and contains links and suggestions suited to your practice ideals for this holiday season.
Taking A Break?
Of course that’s fine and for some those of you who have been working very hard on your music it could be the best thing for your progress.
However, for others, the decision to take a break may be forced by circumstances – either you are going away and won’t have your instrument or space to practice and/or you have to meet many social engagements and just won’t have the time.
It’s always a good idea to acknowledge your reasons or circumstances for not being able to practice and to be honest and real about it. (Reflective writing is always good for this.)
If you won’t be practicing but want to stay in touch with your music, I suggest you read this article which is full of recommendations for inspiring music reading, dvd’s and listening.
If you can’t take your instrument with you but still desire to keep your music learning going, this article has suggestions of how you can accomplish that.
Keeping The Routine Going?
If keeping your regular practice routine during the holidays is what you wish to do, the only advice I would give you is to cut yourself a bit of slack.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned, especially if you are out of your ordinary work or day-to-day routine.
I am sure there will be at least one or two social engagements and you just may feel different as those around you begin to wind down.
Use your Practice Diary to keep track of your learning and perhaps set yourself some achievable goals for this short period and if you’re having trouble keeping up the routine, this article is sure to help you.
Practicing Like Mad?
Some of you may have a lot of music work commitments to meet and will have to put in some extra hours of rehearsal and practice.
Others of you will just want to take this opportunity of having more time, to practice more.
Again, don’t be disappointed if you don’t meet your expectations of learning. We can only learn as fast as our brains and bodies allow us to.
Also, (and this may seem obvious) try not to get sucked into any excessive partying.
This Article will take a look at what these qualities are, just so you know and just so you’re a little more prepared.
The Teaching And Learning Experience
We can learn so much from our students and also, the act of teaching music can enhance our own learning.
The key to being able to teach well is to draw on your own experience as a learner.
I also feel that it is important to keep learning as you teach. This way, the two experiences become almost one inseparable process, helping you to inspire your students and make your teaching more meaningful.
When starting out in music, you will likely have more than one teacher and some will be better than others. (This Article can give you some advice on choosing a music teacher).
Remembering what was inspiring about the teachers you loved and why other teachers made music seem difficult will also inform your best teaching practice.
If you can take some time to reflect on your learning experiences to this point, you may find out more about what you need as a student of music and/or how you would like to teach.
One of the most interesting and best exercises I’ve had to do, as part of putting this blog together, was to write out my own story in music so far. You can read it here.
Whether you are new to music or have been doing it for a while, I do suggest you take a trip down memory lane.
It is not only great for your students to read it (if you want them to) to get a better understanding of where you are coming from and what your experience has been so far, but also for you to remember what inspired you in music in the first place, what your most embarrassing moments were (if you’ve had any – I most definitely have) and to see on paper how much you have put in to work towards your dream of making music a part of your life.
Going It Alone
We never ever stop learning music and that is what is so great about the Art – there is always more to learn and always ways you can become better at it.
However, there will inevitably be times in your learning where you have no teacher at all and all you have to rely on is yourself.
This is true for most professional musicians. (Although, by that time they have had so much experience as students, and some will be teachers, that they know how to best pursue their progress.)
What can be difficult is if you are new to music and want to teach yourself.
There are many “how to” books on the market as well as online tutorials but there is so much more to going it alone than simply having the information.
Again, this is one of the reasons this blog is in existence and why I have put together the Practice Diary – because the “going it alone” requires you to:
If you are starting out in music and are serious about it, I do suggest you find a teacher but if that is not possible, check out some of the above articles and try to implement the use of the Practice Diary, which you can download free by signing up to the Newsletter.
The Ups – The Downs
Something I am always telling my students is that their development won’t happen like this:
But more like this:
If you know that when you sometimes feel really down about music and you feel you are going nowhere and actually feel like giving up is an indication of an impending breakthrough, maybe you will be able to relax with the process a lot more.
It doesn’t matter how long you have been playing, the highs and lows are always going to be a part of your musical experience.
Learning how to deal with these feelings and understand how you are developing is important.
This is where a good teacher can really help by way of support, mentoring and giving direction.
In order to really understand your development and see what has past and what is coming up for you, I suggest you regularly reflect and keep a Practice Diary (sign up to Newsletter).
That way you can look back, read your reflections and see how far you have come – especially when you feel you are getting nowhere.
This can really help you get through the lows and provide motivation to keep you practicing.
Eventually, you will share your music, whether casually with family or other musicians or professionally.
These experiences can again be full of highs and lows but there is really no better way to gauge how you are going with music than to do some performing or recording.
These Articles should help you to be better informed about how to tackle some of the issues performing brings up:
If you are not performing or recording, try to change this and make it part of your music experience.
The above articles should give you some ideas on how to do this, or if you are not sure, please leave me a comment explaining your situation and I’ll try to suggest how you can incorporate this into your work.
This week has been interesting indeed.
I enjoyed working on the rap for the choir and can see that there is even more to explore here.
It’s fascinating and complex as much as it’s simple. So now I have a new appreciation for writing rap lyrics.
Choir was good and I realized that it’s so important to be able to hear ones part and to pitch your notes.
It helps to listen to my part each day and will need to do that each day this week because we are recording next week – that will be interesting indeed.
I have found a nursing home to do a short jazz set, so now just need to find a date that I can do, most likely after Christmas.
I finally caught up with my harp teacher who I haven’t seen in over a year, and it’s such a beautiful instrument.
At first I was thinking that I wouldn’t remember anything, but I was surprised at how much came back so quickly.
I must say I feel a bit guilty that my guitar has fallen to the side, so will try to make an effort to practice this weekend.
I’ve been busy on design and construction and the house is a demolition site and inbetween I’m wrapping presents!
Sometimes I marvel at the things I take on!
Signing out for a good nights sleep.
It was good to work on the lyrics for your rap last week and here is a recording of them…
Of course, we wrote the lyrics and recorded them in the same session, so they do need work in delivery but I really like them because they have a message and it’s a message that strongly comes from you – that’s authenticity and you know how much I think that is an important quality in music!
I know you will have no problem with the recording if you do the practice you intend to do.
You are so right. You need to know your part so well, it becomes a part of you too! With music, you will get out as much as you put in. Do the work and you’ll be fine.
I’m excited about working on the Jazz gig and delivering it at the nursing home. They will love it and it’s a great way to get performance confidence. So yes, let’s do it after Christmas.
I love the fact that you are picking up your harp again. If you have worked on music it does seem to stay in your body memory, so I’m not surprised you remember as much as you did. It must have felt good to play it again.
As far as guitar goes, just keep chipping away. You’re doing great and learning a lot of instruments at the moment anyway, so go easy on yourself!
You also seem happy to be doing the building work. I think we can all take on a bit more if we love the things we are doing.
That’s why I think that if you can follow and do the things that make you feel happy, life is more than a pleasure!
In this Article I will outline the different ways teachers and students can use the Practice Diary.
The most important thing to remember is that the Diary is a flexible resource and that you can, and should, improve upon it so that it serves you in the best possible way.
The main purpose of the Diary is to teach students how to practice music so that when the time comes for them to be independent from a teacher they know how to keep pursuing learning and playing by themselves.
The most important aspects of the Diary are that of reflective learning and making sure all aspects of music are getting the right amount of attention.
You will find that some students love using the Diary and they fill it in religiously while others barely look at it.
Whether your student fills in the Diary or not, it is still a useful resource in the lesson and just by keeping track of exercises and writing in it, your students will eventually come to see how it can support their learning… the information you give is better absorbed because they are hearing it and seeing it.
For some students, that’s all they need and they will remember what has been covered and find a rhythm in their practice that suits them.
What is important is that you use the Practice Diary to keep track of your students’ progress.
If they are reluctant to do the reflective work, spend the first part of the lesson discussing similar questions to the following:
and simply write a paragraph for them in the space provided. When you revise these reflections at the end of the Diary, they will see the benefit doing regular reflective work.
Another tactic is to get them to write in the reflective space, spending 5 – 10 minutes of the first part of the lesson doing this.
Just be sensitive to the literacy level of your student and always offer to help them.
It can be quite embarrassing for adults to have literacy problems, many do and many don’t admit it, so please bear this in mind when using the Diary with your students and support them as much as you can.
If your student simply doesn’t want to use the Diary, you use it to keep track of what you are currently doing in your lessons with them.
Circle exercises and write down comments during the lesson, so that in the next lesson it is easy to pick up where you left off.
This saves a lot of time trying to recall where you are with a certain student and if you have many students, using the Diary really makes teaching a lot easier and efficient.
Explain to your students that the more information they can provide for you (i.e. how much time they spent on exercises, how often they practiced, what they practiced, reflective work etc) the more you can guide and help them and the faster they will be able to learn and the more value-for-money they get.
This may encourage them to use the Diary.
You can also experiment with pre-planned practice schedules or discuss with them ideas they think would work best for them and keep track of these in the Diary.
Don’t be disheartened if this resource doesn’t get used the way you intend it to be. Everyone is different and everyone has their own way of doing things.
Use the Diary to illustrate how each of your students learn and help them to realise what works best for them.
That way, they will have a lot more chance of success.
I am a list kind of person, so the Diary works well for me. I have used it for about five years now and will probably always use it because it helps me to:
I know that a lot of people are not “list” people and never will be and that’s fine.
You can use the Diary any way you wish and it’s just really helpful for your teacher and you to work together using this resource, writing down goals, achievements and keeping track of what you are focusing on.
Just remember the more you guide your own learning, through reflective practice, the better your relationship to music and your teacher will be and the easier it will be for you to eventually become and independent learner.
The Diary isn’t meant to be a resource you have to use forever.
By using the Practice Diary for a period of time you will eventually develop the mindset you need to ensure your future learning encompasses all the aspects of music necessary for you to succeed.
Many people fail to continue with music because they don’t understand their own processes and have false expectations of themselves and the learning process.
This is why I developed the Diary.
Don’t worry if the Diary in its current format doesn’t work for you, instead, think about what will help you to learn and try to put that into a useful format.
You may come up with a more brilliant version than what has been offered!
Remember, if you have any questions, please leave your comment below.
Comments don’t automatically go onto the blog, so if you are worried about confidentiality, you can just let me know that you would like me to answer your query personally.
I have been away for one week now in Sydney attending the teachers training for Theta Healing.
The founder, Vianna, is out here from the states and what an amazing opportunity to meet and be taught by her.
She is funny and real and so practical with her experience and her desire to heal the souls of others’ is truly inspiring!
Whilst I was very anxious on my arrival, I leave with a renewed confidence that I do have both the knowledge and tools to create what I truly want in life, and that is exactly what I intend to do.
Of course music has played a key part this week in my learning.
In the Theta class we were played a rap, inspired by the healing.
My gorgeous girlfriend, Lucy, invited me to David Hykes harmonic choir, a group that uses overtoning, drums and Tibetan chants.
Wow! What a new dimension I experienced.
I realized that sound is energy, vibration is energy and the atmosphere of the church hall was so pure and uplifting I am sure that I met the Creator himself!
I could feel every cell of my body resonating, all my chakras opening and I began to fully comprehend the enormous potential there is in sound.
This raises the stakes a little, which is great because I am really at a point that I want to affect change and to do that, it is important to be participating in the energetic shifts that are occurring on this planet.
So what is arising is the enquiry “what is my reality?”
I now have the potential to create anything I truly want, including the highest evolution of myself on this Plane.
This may sound like ramblings, but I have come to realize that it is time to stretch the boundaries of my current reality.
So I am swimming with ideas about a song reflecting these realizations. Well, in fact two distinct songs, so I am off to create them with ease, grace, and fun!
Blessings to you all!
Good to hear from you and after reading this, I am really looking forward to our next lesson on Friday.
I’m very happy you enjoyed your Course and it sounds exactly like what you needed and very exciting too!
I would loved to have attended the choir as I think it is a rare thing to experience sound purely as energy and perhaps this is something we could go into a little deeper in this blog. Especially this month as we are focussing on health and well-being.
It will be great to start working on your original material from this angle as well.
I think this diary of yours has already shown the evolution of a musician and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next!
It seems that my mind is buzzing with so much information to integrate that I am forever awake!
I’ve had my youngest daughters class camping at our place for the past three days and it’s been raining so they have all been bunkered down on the living room floor.
Imagine sleeping with 26 kids in the house! Maybe I can’t get to rest tonight simply because it’s so quiet.
The thread of storytelling has come to the forefront for discussion both literally during the camp and also with my music.
We worked on finishing the next recording and the first thing that hit me today was how different it sounded with the space of a week in between sessions.
I had a sore throat and wasn’t feeling so well so was not sure how I would sing today, and it took me some time to connect with the telling of a story.
Overall it has been a really good experiment.
I have come to realize that I want to keep working on the previous songs as I go, to be sure that I keep moving forward on them and that they do not slip away.
So it’s time to write, free form, I’m actually petrified of doing this so looks like another fear has reared it’s ugly head to be dissolved.
What better forum than to give it a go right now…
“nyyyyuuuup, yup move go window.
Ring a ding man said it’s singing, ah my head hurts I think it’s going to explode – just go man just go to the window of your soul and the you will see the light shooting beyond the beyond into the future that is to become, your future so bright.
Hold onto it tight like. Kite don’t let go for you know that it’s true just for you as you think, so shall you go into the lines that define the creation of your mind weaving time into matter and matter into fine creations of Devine inspiration moving translations of extraordinary thought rolling through seas of imagination, expanding into mysteries for mankind ever blooming.”
Wow that’s fun, I’m thinking I’d like to play with rapping and rhythm next piece.
Choir is going great – it’s much more full on when you are the only harmony part.
You really need to know your stuff otherwise there is no one to anchor with.
One of the other ladies, Coral, explained that for her it’s like a jigsaw puzzle and that once she knows all the parts then she can easily hold her own.
I am moving forward with the beat boxing – still a way to go but definitely moving forward.
I am away next week on a theta healing course, so a bit nervous that I will fall behind.
Actually, come to think of it, I’m nervous about going away on this Course.
It’s full on to leave the girls and Pete, and while eternally I feel excited, I also feel that so much is happening right now.
I guess that I just have to trust that it’s all perfect and there is something in this experience that I need.
I was given the most amazing DVD to watch tonight called “Garbage Warrior”.
For me, as an Architect, it was so inspiring and a very important part of the puzzle.
I feel like I have a lot of balls in the air, I know that it’s all important, I just hope that I can hold enough concentration to create something truly amazing.
Then again, everything that I am learning is that it has nothing to do with me, I’m just a conduit.
Ok well it’s time to try sleep now. I have a 630 start for a morning sounding session, so sweet dreams.
Yes, you were really buzzing this lesson after having so many house guests. I didn’t envy you but it was great you handled it so well.
The theme of storytelling did come up in your lesson today when we were talking about writing songs and we looked at Adele’s video in relation to song writing.
As I have always said, a singer’s most important job is to tell a story and to tell a story well you really have to be connected to it. If you can master this aspect of music, especially singing, people will love to listen to you.
We also spoke about subject matter for stories and I mentioned that the more connected you are to the story (in other words, telling your story) and the more universally understood the subject, the more successful the song will be.
The “automatic” writing you have done in this entry will be great to use in a piece with some rapping. I’m excited to do that one with you.
And for all our followers, here’s Joanna’s latest composition. We’d love to hear what you think about it as it’s really “between the cracks” as far as genre is concerned.
Feelin’ Good (28/10/11)
It is always good to touch base with material you have learned in the past and it’s something I always do whenever I have a solo gig. That is, revisiting past repertoire and adding new songs.
Coral’s advice regarding learning the parts for choir is spot on. If you learn all the other parts, you will be able to hear how your part relates and fits into the music. This makes it so much easier even though it sounds like more work.
The ease of singing harmony will come with experience. The more you do it, the more you hear and the better you get at it. (The same with all music really.)
I think the beat boxing and the rapping will fit in well together as far as your learning goes and maybe we could do them both in your next composition?
Looking forward to it!
Finally I have arrived at the pivotal point. After much debate and deliberation I have realized that really what we are working on is my self-confidence.
It’s time to really harness this experience and embrace those aspects of my life that are holding me back from realizing my full potential and from living my full creative expression.
No matter how hard I try or even not try it is a cyclic certainty that I must come to accept, love and transmute.
This journey of discovery is about the integration of all that I am in this beautiful plane of existence called Earth.
Time to breathe, let go, take one step at a time and allow myself to dissolve the fears that have held me for so long.
I had a guitar lesson today and was feeling really bad about myself, and my progress and was assuming that I should kick the can, give it in, give it up to be realistic given that I can’t seem to find the space to practice.
Well “yes” my teacher replied that “it needs to be an objective or it won’t happen, but lets play anyway”, and then boy, was I surprised how much I enjoyed it, how I was actually ok at it even though it’s been months since I practiced and so it’s not ready to let me go yet.
We talked about my initial objective to be able to play and accompany myself, not to be a mad guitarist, and then bang!, it just all clicked into place.
I met with a very dear friend this afternoon and realized that I needed to embrace the lost Architect within, to take stock of myself and complete some very long overdue projects starting with my professional identity.
I was questioning whether the secret dream of a life of recording and performing was being washed away to the ‘should do responsibilities of life’ and then I realized that I am craving this creative expression and that no matter how far I go into anything else I have a date with my own destiny and that there are unresolved issues pertaining to the very same core of self confidence and free expression that inspired me to sing in the first place.
If I can do this with music then surely I can also allow this flow into other areas of my world. It’s both a relief and a bit daunting to have some direction now to pursue.
What truly counts is the energy that I bring to all that I do, as Lisa says, it doesn’t really matter what type of genre you sing as long as you love Singing it!
This must surely be a philosophy for life and so many things are indeed happening on many different levels, and it’s now a journey of shifting between the different forms of this expression.
I also had some amazing sound work this week.
So many insights to give sound fully to all the emotions within me, wow what a way to start the day.
Sound is an entire structure of resonate communication and to become conscious of allowing sound to pass through me, to open new spaces for sound to be within me and to make the connection between energy and sound as energy, what blessing!
Also another big lesson is to always speak ones truth, openly, heartfelt and as quickly as feels right to do so.
The choir is shifting up a notch and I am both nervous that I will not be able to meet my new commitments to know my parts and also so excited that things will move more quickly here, I am starting to feel more comfortable with the beat boxing.
So really now that this is all down on paper (well iPad) I realize that alot has been going on.
Also, because there is even more to share as this week, I have journeyed through a strict regime to eliminate food intolletances with my youngest child plus night terrors, the separation and settlement for my oldest son and his partner, a realignment with my staff and lots of body work for me.
What a lucky life I live indeed I am so grateful for all my blessings! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!!
Thank you for this great reflection.
I have definitely noticed a change in you and you seem so much happier. I think this is partly due to the fact that you have made this realisation regarding your self-confidence, what you want as opposed to what you think you should want, as well as taking the step towards being more the person you want to be and not being afraid to be yourself.
These are all issues that learning music, if you are on the right track, will bring up for everyone and it’s just so great that you are able to share them here with others.
Being Authentic is not always so easy, as you have discovered, especially when it doesn’t fit into any set musical genre.
I think this was something you were worried about, however, as you have already reflected upon, it is only important to do music you love doing.
Your guitar teacher was absolutely right to set you back on track remembering why you are learning in the first place. We often need this reminder from our teacher.
Again, if you feel you haven’t got the time to practice, you may be interested in reading this article, which gives you a few ideas about finding that time, or consider it may not be an issue of having to find time at all but something to do with resistance to practice brought about by some more complex unconscious feelings toward learning an instrument.
Creative expression is important for everyone on this planet and yes, now you have discovered the importance of that for yourself, it will inevitably spill over to other areas of your life and generally create more happiness.
This is another reason it is so good to participate in music.
I have never done sound work myself but I know how I feel after singing and piano, which is more energetic and uplifted and I know this is due to the vibrations I feel in my body as well as spending time with rhythm.
So I am sure sound work is something I could look into in the future.
The choir will be a great project for you. It has been beneficial for everyone that you gave the leaders of that project your heartfelt honest feedback. I think now it will get very exciting and hopefully we’ll be able to put a future recording onto this site.
And yes, it’s a wonderful feeling to be grateful for everything we have in this life. That is yet another key to happiness!
I have been overwhelmed with an enormous sense of weighty confusion, really bogged down feeling quite flat and heavy.
I have been feeling quite unsettled with much of my life spinning around, homes, schools, business you name it the complexity of it all has been doing my head in.
To the core of all this is an ongoing pattern, always with too much to do, not enough time, unable to complete and finish what I need. I am the preverbal person that bites off more than I can chew!
Well what a surprise today was for me to have it all come pouring out – and some tears too.
We didn’t get through much singing today, but we moved mountains of internal stuff.
With each note of my warm up came more stuff in my process, more and more and more. No wonder I feel lighter.
What is it to be happy?
I want to be happy. I mean this was the very reason I started this adventure into music right? I have come so far, and yet feel at the exact same point I was 6 months ago.
What is this veil, this shadow that keeps the hand brake on?
Once again it’s time to consolidate, really take stock of what I am doing and what I am choosing to create.
I cannot possibly do everything before me and I’m spread so thin that I’m stretched and therefore not present or solid any one thing.
What a shock to see that I have been so caught up in things that I haven’t even had the space to dream.
No wonder things have been tiring – I’m exhausted just writing about it!
I know that things will shift and I can feel that coming.
This is what I want – simply to be myself!
I must get out of my own way and just trust that things are unfolding as they should and yet it’s time to be ruthless with how I spend my time.
It’s time to create the life that I truly want.
So that’s it for now – stay tuned.
I think many people, especially parents, can relate to what you are saying here and the feeling of having too much going on to be able to concentrate on some of your own pleasures.
Understanding this, I asked you if you could make some time to dream about what you wanted in music and that’s when lots of other issues started to come to the surface and it was great to really address those things clearly.
It’s really important to see or visualise where you want to be in the future and what you want out of your music (and life) because by doing that, half the work is done.
Trusting that life will help you get there is another aspect of this.
However, you felt you didn’t even have time to dream.
Much of what has been developing for you has been about reassessing some really important questions such as,
1. Who am I?
2. What do I want?
3. What makes me truly happy?
The answers to these questions constantly change throughout our lives as we grow and develop and I think it was important for you to look at the answers to them for yourself.
Learning music brings up these questions because learning music is very much like learning life.
Sometimes (actually often) we feel like we haven’t really learned anything, or are only just beginning to see how things work.
Learning music is not a linear process but rather more like a spiral, where we constantly revisit parts of our learning but perhaps from a different perspective.
As you can hear from your recordings, you have come a long way and are now looking to take your music a step further which means you need to make room in your life for it.
Perhaps that’s why a lot of emotion was coming up for you, because you are making changes to live your (secret) dream of living music and changing parts of the way you live life is always uncomfortable.
It was a great lesson and very important.
Thank you for sharing it with me.
I thought this would therefore be a great opportunity to look back at Joanna’s recordings and listen to how far she has come since May, this year.
As her teacher, I feel Joanna is starting to get a much clearer vision of where she is going with her singing and a few things in her life are now lining up to meet that vision. It’s all very exciting but I will let her tell you about that.
In the meantime, here are her recordings revisited:
First recording of Joanna (13 May 2011)
Second recording of Joanna (21 May, 2011)
Cry Me A River
Just Like A Star (recorded 11 June 2011)
Just Like A Star (recorded 18 June 2011)
Here’s the recording of Joanna’s “Back On Down Blues”
Just Like A Star (16 July 2011)
Joyful Joyful (recorded 30 July 2011)
“Have a Talk With God”, Stevie Wonder (recorded 18 August 2011)
Joanna’s original track inspired by Burning Man festival