tips

The Essence of Growth

Music is a part of our daily lives. We hear our favorite songs in the car, and sometimes new ones. The bright side of music is the comfortability and emotions that they enable. When this is challenged, we experience a brief period of discomfort. The discomfort is minimized if the new music we are trying out is closely linked to something we already like. Therefore, we can take the initiative gradually (virtually painless) into new territories of music emotion. This factor of change equally pain scenario is a very interested component of human psychology. Typically, we see comfort as a situation in where we received majority control and familiarity. In other word, if we feel as though we are in control and that we are “in sync” with our surroundings we experience less stress and, therein perceive the experience as a positive. This psychology is directly linked to older patterns of survival. In the woods, we were required to judge situation by their comfort, challenge level and familiarity. If our cognition could not line up with these three components then we have preconceived presumptions that danger is afoot. Our adrenals kick in and the classical fight or flight reactions kick in. This mechanism has served us well in the past to keep our species around for thousands of years. However, in the 21st this is needed less than 20% of the time yet, we tend to use it over 90% of the time. There are only a select isolated situation in where a Lion is coming to take off our head. Yet, we stress of money, food, hosing; the necessities. The land of the rich and plenty such as this world has become does not afford us the psychological disposition to continue using this mechanism. We only grow in the face of challenge. When we are up against odds that we don’t think we can win, and win, we become stronger in the wake of lesser issues. It’s only be remaining in our comfort zone shall we remain weak, unchallenged and easily moved. However, if we strive to be mountains of influence and positive change in the world we must embrace the challenges that face us each day with class, honesty and perseverance. 

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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.

How to Teach Violin to a Toddler

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Toddlers are interesting little human beings. They are SUPER creative, curious, and bright. Toddlers mean well, but still seem to leave a road of destruction in the wake of walking through a room. But regardless of their organization skills, they are still the light that illuminates our future. They too, need support in creative endeavors — like playing the violin!

Many people are trying to find out things that are of interest to their children and teaching them these things at a very young age. Because kids are like sponges, the earlier they can begin learning specific things, they better they are at them. You can use a DVD to teach violin to your toddler. You don’t even have to know how to play yourself. You can get a beginning violin instruction program and help your child learn at home. All you have to do is follow the instructions given in the program. You will know shortly whether your child has an interest in the violin or not.

Top 5 Ways to Introduce Your Toddler to the Violin

  1. Live concerts
  2. Music games with and instructor
  3. DVD of fun violin concerts
  4. Bring a Musician in your home to perform for your child
  5. Buy a toy violin for your child to try out

If they show an interest and want to keep learning, you can find a private instructor to help them develop their talent even further later on. If they don’t take to the violin, you can always introduce them to other instruments and outlets of creativity.

With Deep Appreciation,

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3 enticing tips to play the violin like nobody else

Have you ever wondered what could set you apart from other players?

In this post I’m going to answer this question by giving you 3 tips to make you play the violin like nobody else!

Read on…

music, music educationPlaying the violin is really the art of noticing the nuance. For every nuance movement, sound and adjustment that you notice to improve your playing is the key to your success as a player. So, before you get started on these 3 tips make sure you understand that awareness of nuance is your first step towards success.

  1. Become an active listener. There is a drastic difference between active listening and passive listening. Passive listen is when you are listening to the music playing in the grocery store. Active listening is when you are singing at the top of your voice in the car to your favorite song. You are engaged with the music when you are actively listening. When you play the violin, become an active listen. Engage your mind in the sound that is being create. Listen to where the music takes you, the tune, the beat, and the melody.
  2. Play all the time. The more you play the better you get. You can’t do you best unless you know everything about what you’re doing. Play, play and yes, play! Think of it as if you were spending time with a person; the more time you spend with them the better you know them. Play during your free time if you can. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t practice. Improvise as you go along. It will teach you to listen to what the music tells you to do. Close your eyes while you play as well, force yourself to concentrate.
  3. Stretch yourself. Keep reaching for harder pieces to play. Look for more complicated exercises to work on. And, more of all, try something that you think is “our of your league” every once in a while. When you continuously reach past where you think you can go, you might surprise yourself. So keep reaching, keep stretching and, never stop exploring.

With Deep Appreciation,

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Here are 4 ways to play the violin better

We can be honest — we want to be better at playing the violin. This is a nobel aspiration and we should take every opportunity to become better!

In this post to you I hope to illuminate the 4 ways to play the violin better that have greatly impacted my performance on the instrument.

Take time to contemplate each tip. They have been carefully thought out and I truly hope that they benefit you in every way possible.

I know — the violin can be a challenging instrument to master.

Keep the faith! You can do it! 

The rewards will be well worth everything you put into your advancement on the instrument — and that’s a promise.

The key to the success of these betterment keys is to apply them where you are as a player. Be honest, and approach the tasks in a way that will springboard you from where you are to where you want to be.


  1. Analyze: Take time to analyze the are of study you are currently in. What this means is that you take time to become more aware of what you are studying in an effort to gain an larger vision of where what you are studying is taking you. Everything we study contributes to the map that we are following to achieve our dreams. When we study the violin this rule still applies. Analyze why you’ve decided to study a particular area. Is it actually helping you? Or, is it keeping you from more important areas? Pro Tip: Take 15mins before you start each practice to become more aware of how what you are studying is either helping you or hindering you.
  2. Listen: Do whatever you need to do to gain access to great music — the masters. Listen to every breath they take. Listen to how they phrase things. And, listen to them playing something you’re working on. By studying the masters we can shortcut many of our challenges. Furthermore, we can find new avenues for our own expression when we are given tools from the masters. Pro Tip: Find the song you’re currently practicing on youtube played by a master and copy the way they phrase it. This will give you deeper insight into how they think about the piece.
  3. Practice: You didn’t think I’d leave this out did ya? But before you scan past this tip, let me put a twist on it. Practice should be done in short hyper-focused sessions. Why short? Because our attention spans our getting shorter and shorter. Also, when we hyper-focuse our attention we absorb, remember, and articulate more. Pro Tip: A 20min hyper-focused practice is better than a 90min practice that’s scattered.
  4. Experiment: This might be my favorite! Don’t be afraid to experiment with your instrument. Try to make new and different sounds, rhythms, and songs. Try something crazy with your instrument. Go play for someone randomly in a gas station. I’m not kidding! Experiment with ways you can better impact and influence your community. This will give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Pro Tip: The more you explore your instrument the easier it will be to play. Think of your instrument as if it’s a person you need to get to know. Remember, you are in charge of how far you take your exploration; so, go CRAZY — and enjoy!

Live your passion deliberately!

With deep appreciation,

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