An important message…and a pretty cool song from The Piano Guys plus one.
An important message…and a pretty cool song from The Piano Guys plus one.
Come all you who thirst! This is a song by Bethany Dillon based on Isaiah 55. Beautiful and encouraging.
This post comes from a student I taught about six years ago. She has recently started a blog and would no doubt appreciate some visitors and followers. I thoroughly enjoyed her post, the content of which you will find below; please visit the original post:
Worship With A Human Heart
The church fellowship I attend is small. Worship is usually run by a singer and one – or, if we’re lucky, two – musicians, along with someone in charge of displaying lyrics. . . This week, it didn’t quite go smoothly. Sometimes the lyrics were out of order, sometimes the guitar was louder than the singer, sometimes the congregation was off-key or sang at the wrong time. At one point the musician couldn’t find the music sheet for a song, so we ended up singing one song twice!
This is my favourite worship. When we raise up our voices and stumble, when our plans go awry and the guitarist stumbles. And when we continue anyway. Because we must. I love these moments. They make me smile, and I like to think they make God smile too.
Because we aren’t a concert of professionals with a stage and fancy lightning. Because we aren’t here to produce beautiful, on-key music without missing a beat. We are here as humans to worship the one true God.
And how remarkable, how astounding that He loves our worship, stumbles and all. How awesome is it that He loves such imperfect humans.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
We don’t need to be perfect to come before God. In fact, He came to us, arms held wide, while we were unworthy. How can we not praise Him? How could anyone stand to wait until perfection before raising off-tune voices in worship to our God?
Thank you, Lord, that You love it when we worship with a fallible human heart.
The musical carolling of this Australian songbird is a daily feature of the lighthouse walk at Byron Bay, in northern New South Wales. The magpies live alongside the tourists and local lighthouse lovers.
What a magnificent song from a bird that is often considered a nuisance in the suburbs. The details of God’s artistry in the musical mechanics of the natural world never cease to amaze.
(Video courtesy of Sean O’Shea Art)
This 24-year-old adult beginner from Norway wanted to see if it was possible to learn to play the violin as an adult. This video shows her progression from week 1 until today. This is so encouraging. I hope it will inspire many of you to pick up a new instrument, or pick up where you left one from your childhood days.
I found this set of eight helpful suggestions for finding time to enjoy practising your instrument. I’m sure we could all use the encouragement to keep learning skills and enjoying the gifts we have developed.
Believe it or not, sight reading can be fun. Not convinced? Dig out your old grade books from two or three grades back and try playing through a few of the pieces you didn’t learn at the time. Not only is this good sight reading practice, it’s a good way to reacquaint yourself with your instrument if you’ve taken some time off over summer. PLUS you’ll learn new repertoire that you might enjoy AND you’ll give yourself a confidence boost by sight reading music you once thought was impossible.
Time’s up! Another lesson or practice session has come to an end and, alas, there was no time for theory. Don’t sweat it! Make musical theory a part of your everyday practice and lessons. Stop playing briefly and analyse one passage of your sonata. Grab your smartphone and check that you know all the definitions for the Italian terms in your piece. Play on and ask yourself ‘what key am I in? What relationship is this key to the original key?’
Spend a lot of time online? (Answer: ‘Yes!’) Sacrifice just 10 minutes of precious internet browsing time to do a lesson or a test from an online theory course once a week. You’ll be a theory guru in no time.
We all have memories of that time we were playing around on our instrument, came up with a brilliant riff, never wrote it down and learned the true meaning of regret. Are you the next Brahms? Maybe not. Do you have great ideas that other people might like to hear? Absolutely. Keep a pencil and a manuscript or manglescript pad with you while you practice.
Ideas don’t often strike out of the blue like a bolt of lightning (especially in this drought-ridden country!) – so write them down if they do! Then you can spend some time working them into something more substantial through ongoing exploration and experimentation. Working on your own musical ideas can also be a great way of really engaging with the sound that you are making, sparking musical ideas for your other repertoire.
Insightful Clara Schumann says, ‘There is nothing greater than the joy of composing something oneself and then listening to it.’
A recording device may be one of the most effective practice tools and most students just aren’t using one regularly. There is no need for fancy gear, microphones or studio set-up; recording is for personal use only! Your smartphone, tablet, laptop or handheld digital recorder will work just fine.
Recording yourself puts you in the teacher’s or examiner’s chair, helping you to listen critically to your own playing. How would you rate your pitch, articulation, phrasing, tone quality and overall performance? Make a conscious change to your performance, record and evaluate again. As musicians, there is often a significant disconnect between what we feel we are creating and what we actually produce on our instruments. Recording is an important reality check and benchmark and the best tool for students who are eager to see practice results first-hand – even if it is a little scary at first!
You don’t have to wait for a two-hour window to appear in your schedule in order to sit down with your instrument or work on your voice. Long practice sessions can be great for building stamina, but sometimes more can be achieved with multiple short sessions in which you set out to achieve one particular goal. Keep track of your goals and your targeted practice in your practice diary.
Clever Leonard Bernstein says, ‘To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.’
“Have students listen to fine performances of the pieces, even before you begin teaching it” advised Glenn Riddle to teachers at last week’s Piano Series 17workshop in Melbourne. Between concerts, recitals, studies and everything else life throws at us, most of us don’t spend enough time just listening for the sake of listening.
Listening to music is not only an inherently pleasurable experience, it is also an incredibly beneficial exercise for the brain. A recent study from UC Berkeleyfound that listening to familiar and unfamiliar music ‘increased interaction between the nucleus accumbens and higher, cortical structures of the brain involved in pattern recognition, musical memory, and emotional processing.’ That certainly sounds convincing!
Listening to repertoire before or as you learn a piece can help to inspire you, give you ideas for your own phrasing and interpretation and allow you to see the piece from another performer’s perspective. Grab a recording of your exam repertoire from iTunes or Spotify, plug in your earphones and talk a walk outside. You never know what details you might hear!
Seeing a live classical music performance is insanely exciting… the nerves, the spectacle, the variety, the triumph! So why do we so often save concert-going for ‘special occasions’ or one-off experiences? It is easy to think of concerts as expensive ventures or special-occasion experiences, but this is not necessarily the case!
Google your local university music department and attend one of their (usually free) lunchtime concerts. Most professional concerts also offer discounted student tickets or last-minute ‘student rush’ tickets. Even better, have a soirée-of-sorts with your musical friends. Get an opportunity to practice performing in front of others, support your friends and be introduced to a lot of great music!
Remember that all of your hard work is really aimed at making it easier to get your instrument or voice to do what you want it to do. From time to time, play around with the sounds you can make – beautiful sounds, ugly sounds, funny sounds and sad sounds! Get up close and personal with your instrument (or voice) and experiment away. If you’re not enjoying playing or singing at the moment, maybe you just need to reacquaint yourself with the joy of making sound. Learning music is challenging but should also be fun and rewarding.
Happy John Cage says, ‘Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.’
Upgrade your practice with these simple tips.
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