Here’s a quick post about a new project.
Katie Yearick is a tremendous singer/songwriter from Nashville, Tennessee. We met just earlier this summer at the open mic night I host in New Rochelle. We’re producing a 3 to 5 song EP and been playing around town (Hudson Valley, New York City, etc.) We recently filmed at Rock Island Sound in Tarrytown, New York. I’m loving every bit of this band and it’s organic to boot.
How do we know we are progressing? Evolution is a slow and drawn out process that cannot be felt, it can only be tracked. I think this is the key. Self-tracking is essential to quick and efficient progress. Many times we feel we should practice so many different things that we find ourselves confused at the end of it all because we work so much on our weaknesses that our strengths begin to atrophy.
Self-tracking is easy.
1. Get a piece of paper or open a text document.
2. Write down what you would like to improve in your playing (i.e. speed, intonation, feel)
3. Everyday, record how practicing went that day.
4. Review at the end of the week exactly how you have improved (i.e. has your comfort with the material increased? have you developed ease with the material? are you ready for more difficult music?)
5. That’s about it. Just make sure you practice with a goal in mind. Be sure to divide playing and practicing. Be in the now. Know what your goal is.
Here is an invaluable lesson from the great pianist, Bill Evans. Enjoy!
The mind is our greatest enemy. An individual’s personality and intellect is the sum of his or her life experience and education. A method of learning that works for one person might not work for another
There are certain methods of efficiency that work for just about everyone…Let’s introduce our old friend…
For many, procrastination is a word that evokes a feeling of guilt due to laziness. I would argue that we, as humans, are hardwired to procrastinate AND it is to our benefit.
Some of the best material we produce happens when a deadline is fast approaching. That deadline forces you to act swiftly, precisely and efficiently in order to finish on time. My best writing comes out when I hit that “flow.” That flow is a mix of adrenaline-inspired concentration mixed with several large doses of caffeine. At this moment…I am an OUTPUT MACHINE!
I recently read a few articles on procrastination and I am putting my own habit to the test. For now I’m getting things done the day, or two, before the deadline and it seems to be working for me. I’m enjoying this new experiment.
The key to all this is…
>>>MAKE YOU OWN DEADLINES<<<
Become your own boss. It’s about time, right? As musicians, the dream is complete freedom in every sense, artistic expression, financial freedom, the ability to tell anyone off without fear, if it so pleases you.
Start making your own deadlines and start procrastinating hardcore. I think you’ll be surprised at how much you actually accomplish.
Questions? I’ll be happy to provide examples to anyone who might be curious.
Fast chops are an important element of a musician’s ego, and more importantly, his playing capacity.
A couple of truths about chops:
Fast chops are not developed overnight.
Playing with precision is more important than playing with speed
Playing with feeling is more important than playing with speed
Playing fast is impressive, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of one’s musical maturation.
When I think of the high-level musicians in the world, their technique is almost secondary to the aura they project on stage while performing. Wayne Shorter comes to mind. John Coltrane comes to mind. Stevie Ray Vaughn comes to mind. These are the players who breathe, sweat and bleed expression. This is the goal.
What is the key to perfect musical expression?
How much effort should be devoted to your chops, and how much to your internal musicality?
Why not a little self-experimentation?
Try this one… THE 7 DAY BIG CHOP CHALLENGE
1. Focus on speed for 15 to 30 minutes daily for 7 days.
2. In that time, devise a series of exercises focusing on sixteenth note runs. (Ex. scalar runs, runs with large/small leaps…just make them continuous 16th note runs). For starters, create 10 different, 2 to 8 measure, 16th note runs.
A) Day 1 = 100 bpm
B) Day 2 = 105 bpm
C) Day 3 = 108 bpm
D)Day 4 = 110 bpm
E) Day 5 = 115 bpm
F) Day 6 = 118 bpm
G)Day 7 = 120 bpm
4. If you accomplished this exercise, you have then increased your technical ability by 20 %.
5. Keep a daily log of your accomplishments as well as where you discovered weaknesses.
6. Remember this is an experiment in efficiency and effectiveness. DO NOT spend more than 30 minutes daily on this experiment, even if you did not perform as well as the day prior or get to where you wanted. That is the whole point. We can tweak the exercise for the next experiment.
This exercise is very basic, which is why I think it’s a good starting point for those who want faster chops with minimal time spent and maximum focus. I advise spending no more than 30 minutes on this exercise, daily. We don’t want to develop a repetitive stress disorder, as so many over-practicers throughout history have come to actualize. The goal is maximum progress with minimum effort. Give it a try and please report your progress in the comment section below. Have a nice week 🙂