An Eye Opening Experience
How to Train an Elephant (How Not to Train a Musician)
I once had a remarkable jazz teacher who insisted I practice everything—yes, everything—with my eyes closed. When I opened my eyes at the lesson, he would shout “EYES” at me until I closed them!
His argument (perfectly sound) went like this: When the muscles know where to go, they don’t need help from the eyes, just as a sighted person doesn’t need the
Artists, Artisans, and Actors
Elephant trainers in India tie a small rope around the leg of an adult elephant and then the elephant will not move more than a few feet in any direction, even though
Learning to Distrust Play
Bach and his contemporaries considered themselves to be ARTISANS who crafted music for specific occasions and purposes. Bach improvised, arranged, and composed music
From Instructor to Educator
A few years ago, I visited a private school where a friend was teaching fourth grade. I improvised a duet at a piano with each of the twenty kids in turn using various Patterns from my books. The other kids danced
The "Traditional" Teacher (Some Encouraging Words)
When I started teaching, I viewed myself as an instructor, someone with a program who planted information “in” a student. But now, I am nearly the opposite.
Don't We Have to Learn Scales First?
I am writing to offer encouraging words to colleagues who may be wishing to make changes in the ways they teach, but are hesitant to do so. I’d like to
Don't Play Piano With Your Fingers!
When I give workshops on improvisation for teachers (whether classical or jazz), one idea is particularly difficult
Mozart Meets Bach!
When I was younger, I really struggled at the piano for a number of years. I just couldn’t do what I wanted to do! Finally, after a completely disastrous performance, I quit piano for an entire year. As a result of these early traumas,
A Favorite Story on Mozart's Birthday
Mozart spent much of his youth touring Europe with his family. He would often give performances with his sister Nannerl for the royal crowd.
When Wolfgang was just eight years old
Notes and Tones
When Mozart was thirty-three, he was passing through Dresden and paid a visit to some friends. A portrait artist named
The Limping Horse Trainer
Notes don’t make sounds. They have no voice. They can’t even hear sounds because they have no ears. The fact is, notes don’t have a clue
Attitudes About Interpreting - Part One: Brahms
When I was in college, I began collecting parables and stories from various traditions. Some have acted like wise mentors
Clara's "Unsurpassed Joy"
Two fundamental attitudes about the art of interpreting can be represented by Brahms and Stravinsky. I could represent the Stravinskyian attitude
A Radical Shift in Pedagogy
Clara Wieck (soon to become Clara Schumann) wrote in her diary, “Composing gives me great pleasure… There is nothing
The word “radical” comes from a Latin word meaning “root” and is closely related to the word “radish.” Though a radical is now