A new way to look at practicing music

We all hear it from our music teachers, “Practice! Practice! Practice!” But, what does it mean for us in the long term? I think what many music educators miss is the explanation and example of what long-term practicing can do for the student. For the student the drudgery and monotony of constant practice can create a grim outlook on their daily musical activities. Music students need the following two components for practice success:

1. Fun: Practicing needs to be more like play. After all, we do call it “playing music.” Practice should be outlined and described to the student as a time for them to explore and compete with themselves. They need to perceive practice as a time to be curious and to take risk. To try new ways of doing things and to engage self-teaching mechanisms.

2. Practicability: Students of all ages need to fully understand how practicing will impact their future musician-selves. This can be achieved by showing them examples of world-class musicians, explaining to them all the daily hours that went into becoming that great; with an emphasis on the musician competing with them self for that mastery. Students need to see how what they do now will impact their future as a musician. By seeing this in actuality via professional musicians, students will be inspired to work harder and longer than ever.

Once these two elements are seen by the student the teacher can prescribe practice goals that make sense for the individual level of the student. There will be a drastic shift in both, attitude and focus when the student understands more clearly why practice is such a good idea.

According to Edward Droscher, founder of Real Music Production, there are two major keys to effective practice.

1. Goals are key. It is human nature to take pride in reaching a goal whether a promotion at work or winning a competition. If you have a set goal to reach you will be more willing to put in the work required to achieve it. Some examples of goals could be to learn the latest song you’ve fallen in love with, to be able to sight read in a certain key, to develop faster, more technical playing or to reach a certain exam grade before a certain period.

2. Little often is better than a lot occasionally. One key point to remember is that repetition is the quickest way to learn something due to your brain and muscles ability to develop and store a so called ‘muscle memory’. It will take a substantially longer time to learn and retain your new knowledge if you practice for a long period but only occasionally. See tip 3 on how to easily incorporate regular practice sessions into your daily routine.

When you are having a bad day and nothing is going right . . .When the pressures of life are crowding in on you and you need some time by yourself . . When someone, or something has made you angry . . When you are bored, or when you are feeling flat or unhappy, don’t complain, just go and do some music practice. That will lift your spirits and energise you. — Ron OttleyOttley, Ron., Now I Love Music Practice (Eileen Margaret Publishing, 2009) Pg 62-63

Practicing should be taken out of the “nose to the grindstone” light, into the “play and exploration” sunshine. Students need to see an overview of how what they are doing now will make an affect on their future selves. This is enabled when the responsibility of this eye-opening is taken on by the teacher. After all, the teacher is the guide for the student to reach full potential. Therefore, the teacher’s J.O.B. is to bring the students narrowed vision of practicing into full vision of how fun and explorative it can be. Once this is achieve, the sky is the limit for both, you and the student.


SCIENCE:: Death and Rebirth: T.I.S.P.

Logo of the Teacher in Space Project issued by the NASA and the United States Government

The T.I.S.P., or Teacher in Space Project was initiated by President Ronald Reagan on August 27th 1984. The project’s main goal was to uplift the inspiration to new generations in enthusiasts in Mathematics, space, and scientific research exploration. Due to unfortunate circumstances the cancelation of the program was installed in 1990 after the death of teacher Christa McAuliffe during the fatal 1986 Challenger flight and disaster.

NASA Spaceflight Participant and Congressional Space Medal of Honor Recipient

But, this was not to be the complete end to the project and its related program E.A.P.(Educator Astronaut Project). For it would be reborn in the early years the 21st century. Due to its controlled release to the private sector, billionaire companies were able to establish their mark on the space and aerospace industries by enabling teachers wanting to participate in the program, via their monetary support. In 2005,  Teacher in Space candidate Pam Leestma, a second-grade teacher and cousin of Space Shuttle astronaut David Leestma, flew a training flight aboard a MiG-21 operated by X-Rocket, LLC. This project an escalating outpouring of applicants to similar companies that also offered space flight as an option for teachers and educators. Flights continued into 2008, for in 2009 T.I.S.P. announced the seven chosen teachers from around the U.S.. They are: Maureen Louis Adams, James Kuhl, Lanette Oliver, Stephen Heck, Rachael Manzer, Chantelle Rose, and Robert Schmidt.


“Becoming a teacher may have its benefits… You may get to go to space!”

Barbara Morgan, NASA's Mission Specialist. 2007.


BY: Thomas McGregor

SCIENCE:: Deep Space Review: Hot Infrared: Messier 81

Messier 81(M81) or Bode’s Galaxy is a beautiful spiral galaxy that lives 12 Million light years away from us, in the constellation Ursa Major. With a right ascension of 09H and a declination of +69°, you can possible imagine in your minds eye how large this Messier Object is. Discovered in 1774 by Johann Elert Bode, the M81 was given Mr. Bode’s name sake for his discovery. With it’s proximity to Earth, large active center nucleus, M81 has been studied extensively throughout the years of astronomical study. The active center  was deemed a class 1 supernovae in the spring of 1995 by F. Garcia, in Spain. This supernovae is said to be the 2ND brightest in the 21ST century! As you look at the photograph above you may notice how bright the edges of M81 are. This is due to the hot stars that are in the M81 system. These stars are so hot that they heat the space dust that is floating in the near by space surrounding M81 and enhancing the infrared dust emissions.


In my opinion this would be a great Messier Object to study if you are interested in astronomy or astrophysics, and would like to get started. I reason this to the many dynamics that M81 offers without becoming to complicating. Furthermore, M81 is very colorful, active, and full of life(in it’s own right). With the solar galactic heating of infraed dust, and the relationship to Ursa Major – you will be able to learn a lot about Ursa major as well as M81 – all at the same time. Also, this is a no-joke space object! With the mass calculations resulting in a Magnitude 6.94 Messier Object, you will certainly have your hands full with data analysis and intrigue. Enjoy the many aspects of this supernova handling M81, as we expand our knowledge of our outer space.

By: Thomas McGregor

Deep Space Review: A Large Name = A Powerful Star?: Zubenelschemali


Zubenelschemali is a large name that you may never have heard of before. But I have high hopes that I can possibly shed some “white-blue” light on this large name in this issued exploration of outer space!

“The Northern Claw”. This is the literal Arabic definition given in relation to our Main Sequence Blue Dwarf Star. It seems that everything to do with this particular star is in large scale. Radiating at a very hight heat of 12,000K(Kelvin) or +12,000° Celsius, or a sense of wonder that one would associate with such a temperature! In relation to our planetary realm, Beta Librea(it’s other name)spins at very fast 100x that of our sun, or -35.2 km/s(per second)!  Furthermore, it is also 130x that more luminous than our Sun, as well! This 2.6 Magnitude white-blue star, when seen by the naked eye, is the only one to been seen with s hint of green tint. This is due to the hydrofusion aspect of this star’s make-up. If you happen to catch this star with your eye, keep in mind that you are seeing something that is 160 light years from where you stand – truly amazing! To find it, you will see it positioned to a 15h right ascension and -09° declination in the constellation Libra.


This dwarf star is particularly interesting to me because of how long the name is in relation to how big and powerful the star actually is! Sometimes stars can receive titles in relationship to their positioning in the sky, not necessarily in relationship to their actual atributes. I am only suggesting this, not implying that this was the intent of the stars’ name. For the translation of the star clearly defines how it was named. For it is positioned at the northern tip of the constellation Libra, clearly helping to form a “Claw like” formation. Also what I find appealing is how powerful this star presents itself. It is traveling at a radial speed so fast that our Sun would have to increase its velocity by 100 times its current speed. Everything about this star seems to be on a grand scale. Our benefit? We are graced with the ability to see this powerful star here on earth with our eyes by simply, looking up.

By: Thomas McGregor

Focus I-C Distractions – An Interconnect-Interactive Exclusive


In the beginning stages of meditation, the meditator has the ability to notice the subtle mind in which sometimes the conscience mind will get caught up in. In this article I would like to explore the Interconnectedness, or “I-C” bewtween a focused mind and the polar oposite world of distractions that seem to keep us from the focus we seek.

In the early morning hours of sunrise you might find that you are tired, without cause to get up other than to set out and move through the duties you and other have placed upon yourself. As you awake, you start to rise out of the subconscience mind into the conscience. In this state you start to become aware of your surroundings and the plot that you will take through your daily actions. In the midst of all this, there is a point for which you become completely focused. You mind is as sharp as a needle. However, usually the point passes by so quickly that your conscience mind doesn’t have time to become aware of it. As we explore this phenomenon of the focusing world we must become knowledgable of our tool.

What is focus?

Simply defined: Focus is a mental state for which one’s mind is not inhibited by outward and/or inward distractions, mentally.

What are Distractions?

Simply defined: Distractions are the things that seem to pull our mental attention from out current state in to thought process directional pathways we don’t entend to go.

In a simple manner I want to bring to light a connection that way be missed. One of the first connections I see between a focused mind and a distracted mind is that the mind is on something. Meaning: When you are focused, your attention is on a SINGULAR objective and when you are distracted, your attention is all on an objective, just not a singular one. Something else that one might notice that connects the two is the idea that you are in control of both. Interestingly enough, people sometimes claim to have no control over wether they become distracted or not. On the contrary, for if this is true that would mean that you are distracted against your will 100% of the time. If that were true, you would never say: “Sorry, I just got distracted for a moment.”. Understanding this, is a great power. For if you can see the truth in this, the universe will open to you on the recognition of your choice to be focused or unfocused at any given time. On further examination, we find that the I-C with these two things is dualistic. Meaning that you can’t have one without the other. This, I’ll let you explore more on your own. Lastly, you find the I-C that lies at the heart of your mental state involves You! Your choice into the focused world or the distracted world involves your involvement. This might seem simple or possibly something that is needless to say – but when you are completely focused you might “loose yourself”. Also when you’re distracted, you may very well loose yourself as well.

By: Thomas McGregor for Interconnect Interactive