True or False: Top 10 Lessons In Music I’ve learned In Thirty years

12:53 pm Music

Disclaimer: Do not take this article to say that I am a day older than twenty five.

Having gotten the vanity part out of the way:

  1. True or False: Do what you love, the money will follow.
    Generally false. Unless what you love is being a plastic surgeon or something similar the relationship between what you do, no matter how much you love it, and money, is purely coincidental.
  2. True or False: The more you practice the better you get.
    Generally true but you can spend hours of useless practice if the practicing is not focused or if you’re unaware of the problems coming up during the practice (tension, consistent rhythm or intonation issues etc..). In that case, practicing more may be reinforcing problems not solving them.
  3. True or False: Intonation comes from having great ears
    Generally false, intonation is generally a question of technique and practice. Great ears help with refining the technique for great intonation, but otherwise, it’s all about muscles.
  4. True or False: Great musicians never make mistakes
    False. But some musicians’ mistakes are more musical than others’. Moreover, recovering from mistakes is an art and a science. And.. whatever you do, don’t cringe at your own or your colleagues’ mistakes. If you do so, you make sure those that didn’t notice the mistake notice it. Furthermore, if you get stuck thinking about the mistake, you’re playing turns robotic. Even further, if you make a mistake, consider repeating it. It may sound intentional..
  5. True or False: Listening to a lot of music makes you a better musician
    True.One catch. Listening to music where intonation and other technical basics are not achieved may lower your standards.
  6. True or False: If your arm hurts during practicing, you should continue and make the muscles stronger and it will eventually stop hurting.
    False. Teachers recommend that sometimes. Lunacy. Think of this statistic: The number of teachers recommending that is diminishing. At the same time many things that only virtuosos could do a 150 years ago, are now expected of all conservatory graduates. Coincidence, I think not. In fact it is largely true that in working on eliminating pain and tension you refine your technique. Quote from a teacher: “Always respect your body”.
  7. True or False: The greatest musicians are secretive about their technique and practice routine.
    False. From my experience and the experience of many colleagues, our best teachers were also very open about the “secrets” of their art. It is through letting go of these secrets that they move beyond them to discover new “secrets”.
  8. True or False: Force yourself to play even when you don’t feel like it.
    True. Surprisingly. Works for practicing and performing. If you’re angry, bored, demoralized, uninterested, or depressed, you should still practice and/or perform. Many times breakthroughs happen during those restless times. Exception, if you’re sick and can help it don’t play.
  9. True or False: Know your tradition then move beyond it.
    True. Know hundreds, even thousands, of pieces inside out. Then move beyond. I am no advocate of regurgitating the tradition. But if you know a tradition (or more) in depth, you will have a sense of roots and connection to a lineage. You will have a sense of your place in time. It is this sense that gives you strength to move forward when issues of ego and vanity have been diminished by maturity and confidence.
  10. True or False: Don’t trust top ten lists.
    Generally true. With exceptions..

One Response
  1. Harith :

    Date: June 15, 2008 @ 8:44 am

    Very interesting.. and very funny ending too!!

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