Lessons from a Master teacher
Effective Practicing For Musicians By Benny Greb Book Review
It arrived, I've read it, I'm about to try it out for 90 days and see what happens to my drumming.
Benny outlines the rationale of organized practice is a humorous and unique way. The preamble until you get to his EPM systems chapters is good sense and common knowledge among professional musicians. But it gets interesting with his practice system.
Let's start at the beginning.
Organizing your practice space. He recommends imagining the setup of your perfect space, then assess your situation and arrange you space as close as you can to this ideal. I can now say my space looks different. I'm up and running now with 3 flicks of switches, boot my DAW, load the preset and Bingo, I'm ready to go. Books are in place, pencil and journal are ready. Up next a kitchen timer, I'm going to use an old iPhone for this purpose. Benny Greb has some true insights into learning.
1. Quickly name your favorite musicians of your instrument.
2. Now note what you admire about each of them.
3. Now consider your top 3 choices.
4. Now rate yourself 1 to 10 on your skill with the qualities you admire in their playing. Do not give yourself a 5.
5. Now when you practice, practice those to improve those qualities.
6. Buy his book.
Stayed tuned for the results of his 90-day practice regime.
Artist or Musician?
At the risk of an oversimplification: Artists create and lead, musicians execute and follow.
Art is about nourishing a unique vision, developing a creative imagination, the courage to persevere in the face of apathy, and craft. All the while keeping the Zeitgeist front and centre. And hustle, lots and lots of hustle.
Being a musician is about skill, teamwork, employability, gear, more skill, and the willingness to serve.
The training does share some similarities, but the outlook is completely different. Artists are often mavericks, employable musicians are always team players.
Learning to practice healthily
This week I had the pleasure of advising a student on how to prepare for post-secondary studies in music.
He asked me about practicing at the Olympic level, so to speak. I practiced, age 43 for 4 years and logged about 5000 hours. I completed my Grade 10 and ARCT, the highest levels of classical piano, at the time, offered by the Royal Conservatory of Music. I currently spend one to two hours a day on the drums. The big ambition of my aging years. So, I know something about practicing.
We start with warnings: Injury from over practice and neglecting physical fitness. If you are an aging professional musician, you’ve likely had some firsthand experience with pain or worse.
The real reason musicians are dropping out of music schools | CBC Music
Still Battling an Illness, Jarrett Ends His Silence - The New York Times (nytimes.com)
Steps before practice:
Steps on the bench
Away from the bench
End of 1st lecture. To be continued next week.
It's starts with imagination. It's fueled by initiative. It perseveres through leadership, courage and singlemindedness.
Another fine place which discusses adults is here: Harvard's Project Zero.
My two cents?
Stay inspired, learn something new
When you are young study with the old. When you are old study with the young.
The young need to discover a path. The old have been down more than one. The young need encouragement, the kind that comes from being surrounded by experienced successful people.
The old need a new point of view, renewal. Let’s face it without renewal our stories get older and staler each year.
“I used to be great”
“I coulda' been a contender”
"I coulda' been a contender" Marlon Brando as "Terry Malloy"
Spent some time working with Blackmagic Design's Resolve today. Video editor. With the help of YouTube I've made some progress. I've learned how to add, crop, mix, and chop video clips, add cards and put in my own audio. Watch out Luis Buñuel. Seriously, this is going to work. I want to be able to add some polished videos on my sites and for my students.
Mark Kelso gave us a fine example of his skills with his students the other day. Click on the photo of the kids to listen.
“It is not a mechanical routine but something essential to my daily life. I go to the piano, and I play two preludes and fugues of Bach. I cannot think of doing otherwise. It is a sort of benediction on the house. But that is not its only meaning for me. It is a rediscovery of the world of which I have the joy of being a part. It fills me with awareness of the wonder of life, with a feeling of the incredible marvel of being a human being. The music is never the same for me, never. Each day is something new, fantastic, unbelievable. That is Bach, like nature, a miracle!”
Is it possible to improve at this age? Assuming the body is able, the answer is of course an emphatic yes. Can you address the shortcomings in your skill set? Of course.
I got my time together on the drum set at age 61. Really
Do I have goals at the piano? Yes, one simple one and more complex. Be able to beautifully demonstrate for my students their repertoire levels 1 to 10. Secondly, refine my skill in teaching improvisation. You can consider which is the more complex endeavor.
Drumming goals: bring joy to the bandstand, earn a skill level equal to my piano work, and teach drums successfully to keen beginners.
For these goals I’ve created plans, made room, engaged coaches, and allocated my resources.
Lockdown is imminent. What to do?
I had been doing the following things on a regular basis.
I did the following things on a yearly basis:
How did I practice in my studio?
Now what? No jamming for the next few months or even longer. No face to face, mano a mano interactions of any sort.
A few assumptions before proceeding.
The plan is simple
David Story: Professional pianist, drummer, composer, and educator. Well into his 5th enthusiastic musical decade, David works with adults pursuing musical dreams in the autumn of life, while he maintains an active presence in the Toronto arts scene.