Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category


Smart(phone) Practice

September 1, 2017

The school year has started.  For a lot of you, that means back to lessons and ensembles, with a whole lot of new music for you to prepare.  When preparing music, you need to pay attention to detail, work out the technical and musical challenges, and make sure you’re playing your instrument fundamentally well.

Don’t forget to practice performing!

Too often musicians spend so much time preparing a piece, they leave performance out of their practice.  Once the piece has been studied, the “hard parts” are worked out, and the phrasing has been decided, the practice session ends.  There needs to be one more step.

Practice performing the piece.

How, you might ask?  Good question.  For those of you with smartphones (and I think that’s a lot of you), try adding this to your daily practice.

  1. After the “normal practice” of your piece, put your phone on your music stand, and video record a performance of the piece.
  3. When you are ready to practice this piece next (at least one day later), watch the video.
  4. Notice what you did well, as well as what needs work.  Delete the video.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4.

Adding this to your daily practice gives you the opportunity to show yourself exactly what others see in your performance.  That’s why you don’t watch the video immediately.  When you give yourself that day, something that you might have not noticed could stick out, while something else that bothered you in the moment might be no big deal.  You might also notice aspects of your performance that you hadn’t considered before (posture, hand position, funny faces that you make while playing).

Since you are the only one watching the recordings, it’s up to you to be completely honest with yourself.  If not, it’s like cheating at solitaire- sure you may have “won,” but who cares?  Holding yourself accountable for daily performance can certainly be frustrating, especially at first.  Done correctly, you’re gaining valuable performing experience that will have you better prepared when you next step on stage.





February 27, 2015

One of the founding principles of the internet was sharing.  I’m not sure that anyone could have foreseen the amount, and kinds of sharing that are now so commonplace that we hardly even think about them anymore.  I don’t know how I lived without so many cat pictures and videos (why is that cat so grumpy?) , quizzes to see which Disney princess I am (I’m Mulan, by the way), or pictures of what everyone is eating (which I know I did last week, but that was for a specific purpose…I’m not Instagramming my every meal).

But sometimes the sharing is fantastic.  Last week Clark Terry died.  Although I didn’t know him, like everyone who ever heard Clark Terry play, I have immense respect for him.  For the past few months, people close to Mr. Terry kept us up to date with his deteriorating condition, and finally, his passing.  As the news spread, the sharing that happened included pictures, stories, videos, and recordings.  And all of it was positive.  It was amazing to watch a community come together to share their memories of how Clark Terry touched their lives.

This got me thinking about what, and how much, we share online regularly.  I’m not here to tell you what, or how much to share online.  What I’d like to do is get you to think about it.

What you post can dictate how people think of you.  

Posting can sometimes serve as a method for venting about negative experiences.  Done too often, you can become that person that no one pays attention to, because all you do is complain.  There’s an old joke that goes like this:

How do you get a musician to complain?

Easy- give him a gig.

If a lot of your online activity is spent complaining, you’re creating a reputation of being difficult.  Soon you’ll have plenty of time to post about how no one hires you.  There’s definitely a time for complaining.  It’s usually behind closed doors with people you trust.

Having seen how good the online interaction can be makes me want it to be more like that all the time.  You get to choose what you share online.  Whether you like it or not, what you choose will say a lot about you.  Too much of our online activity has become thoughtless.  Take the time to do more of what I saw in response to our loss of Clark Terry- be thoughtful.


iPad 2

March 12, 2011

Here’s what Apple does better than anyone else: makes pretty stuff that I immediately want. Generally speaking I don’t get the first generation of anything. Despite really wanting one, I waited and got the iPhone 3G, then upgraded to the 4. My father spoiled me last year by getting me an iPad. Within days I was addicted. It is, by far, the best media consuming device ever. So what would the sequel be like? I had to swing by Best Buy to find out (the closest Apple Store is over an hour away). Despite only a few ounces, the 2 does feel significantly lighter, and is significantly thinner. It does seem faster, and the cameras are a no-brainer. But the coolest part may be the new cover. Part of the “hard part” of iPad ownership is the case question. I’ve done what I’ve seen lots of others do-get a slim great looking device and cover it in Apple’s original case which, despite enveloping the entire device, is the lightest solution with the best protection. The new cover has magnetic hinges that connect to exactly the right spots automatically and covers only the top of the iPad perfectly. It’s so pretty and functional- how could I not want that?

By the way, if you haven’t tried the Trackpad yet- do it. It’s just better than a mouse.

One more thing, I wrote this whole post on my iPhone 4. Let me know how it looks.