Skip to main content

A Music Library

The conductor of my high school youth symphony loved to talk.  One could say his long-winded lectures made him infamous among those students who worked with him.  Being a teenager at the time most of the stuff he said went in one ear and out the other for me.  It was a Saturday morning and a three hour rehearsal.  My caring was... not there.

But there was one lecture that he gave that actually did have something of an impact on me.  I remember the brass section had just completely fudged the section we were trying to play and basically my conductor was like, "This is a really important section for the brass.  You guys need to know how it impacts the rest of the orchestra."

This segued into the long-winded lecture about the importance of having a music library if you were a musician.  Now this was before YouTube (I'm dating myself here).  So collecting classical music was actually kind of a big deal.  Most stores only wanted to sell the popular stuff.  Finding three or four different versions of one particular symphony took some searching.

What actually made this particular lecture stick in my memory was that the gist of what he was saying was not only about knowing your part but also because having a collection makes you have a sense of ownership over the piece.  You've gone out of your way to collect the music and that establishes a connection to it.

Now, years later, I'm realizing how important that is for a young musician.  Ironically, the lesson still applies even with the dawn of YouTube.  YouTube and other online sites have made music gloriously accessible.  I love how easy it is to find music these days.  I love it when a student comes into his lesson and tells me about something he found online.

But listening to a recording once online does not establish that same sense of ownership.  Music has to become "your music."  This is a much, much deeper level of listening than casually streaming the "best of" list on Spotify.

All musicians should work on building up their music library.  And with this means having the ability to listen.  Crummy speakers on a laptop work in a pinch but they don't replace the fuller sound of a nice sound system.

Now I'm not saying go out and drop thousands of dollars on new albums and a surround sound system.  I'm merely pointing out the importance of this aspect to musical training.  We are studying sound art.  As with any art, exploring other artists and paying attention to the details others have added matters.  Just as how a painter should eventually care about paint and canvass quality, a musician should care about the quality of a listening experience.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Principles of Sowing and Reaping for the Suzuki Parent: 5 Steps to Beginning Suzuki Success by Preparing the Soil

Last school year, I started a group of 4-5 year old students in a pre-twinkle cello class. One mother actively ignited her daughter Ella’s interest in the cello before enrolling in the program. Over the course of a few months, she helped Ella prepare to engage in a new learning process. They observed lessons, listened to cello music, talked about the cello, and actively built Ella’s excitement - all before starting lessons.

This experience allowed me to see how much a parent can cultivate their child’s interest, motivation, and readiness. It gave me a new appreciation for the parents’ role in preparing young children for a positive Suzuki experience.

Here are five ways to prepare the soil to help your child succeed in a Suzuki experience.


1. Build Your Knowledge

Parents are integral to the success of the Suzuki process. If you start a young child in a Suzuki program, your role as a parent will be very active. Your knowledge and education about the Suzuki method and philosophy helps y…

The Private Teaching Business Model

Over my years of teaching I've come across a wide variety of interpretations about the private teaching business model.  I feel that this is a natural result of the type of society we live in.  Many services these days are either "subscriptions" or "appointments."  For example, a gym membership is a subscription.  You pay a monthly fee to use the facility at any time during their hours of operation.  A doctor's visit or a haircut is an "appointment."  You call ahead to set up a time, you show up and then pay after the services have concluded.

With most services falling into one of these two categories, most people try to rationalize music lessons as one or the other.  However, music lessons are neither subscriptions or appointments.  They are actually a combination of both if the business entity is going to be successful.

The reasons why this hybrid business model occurs are:

1)  The service itself is centered around personal attention (appointmen…

Martial Arts and Music

I remember a few years ago I was having a conversation with one of my adult students about martial arts and music.  I always looked forward to my conversations with this student because she happened to be a fabulous Montessori teacher and founded what ended up being one of the biggest Montessori schools here in San Diego.  So she was this wealth of knowledge and it was such a privilege for me to be able to "pick her brain" from time to time.

Going back to the conversation, she observed that music and martial arts work really well together because they both required the same type of focus.  I have practiced martial arts for almost ten years so this is an opinion I have had for a long time but it surprised me to hear it coming from someone else.

Both music and martial arts revolve around the idea of a focused body and mind.  Teaching an extremely young student how to keep their instrument in place for one Twinkle is more mental training rather than physical.  Holding a light …