Performing

Posts about performing music, recitals, concerts. Topics could cover stage fright, how to have a good recital, etc.

Would you say playing (or singing) music is more mental or more physical? Student (and teacher) perceptions of this can color how we practice and play an instrument (including the vocal chords).

Do we mentally make fingers do what they need to do, or physically drill them so they do the work for us? How we balance the ebb and flow between mental and physical tells a lot about how we and our students practice and learn.

[Before we discuss this, I want to invite you to review teacher comments by Sherie, Chris, and an extensive response from Toby, all on Payments & Cancellation Policies; from Betty on How to Get Connected; and a controversy presented by Jeff commenting on Finding Students For You, with explanations by two online companies represented by Brian and Steve.]

Below are some student examples, and maybe a surprise conclusion, which I hope provide food for thought. I don’t have scientific answers about the balance of mental and physical in playing music, but by thinking about this, we certainly can benefit in terms of practical ideas for learning and teaching.

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I’ve heard that many people take a beta-blocker or other drugs to fix stagefright (see the blog article about stagefright for some more musically based ideas), and I know there are gadgets out there to keep a bow on track, play the next note of a tune every time you tap on a drum, show a piano student which keys to press remotely from an online connection, practically play a guitar for you, and so on.

I think it’s time for some more advanced products to help people learn to play musical instruments:

Magnetic Tune Teacher–electromagnets on the playing surface of the instrument are activated based on a programmed piece of music, and magnets in the student’s fingers are drawn to the right place at the right time for the right amount of time, thus teaching their fingers to play the music. Slight drawback is the minor surgery required to insert the finger magnets.

Tune Pills–building on advanced memory research pinpointing the sites and structures in the brain which retain musical patterns, these pills make it a snap for the victim, I mean the student, to learn musical patterns overnight. Just take the proper pill (e.g. “broken thirds going up for three steps, then proceeding down 6 major scale notes”, or “minor scale up 4 steps, dropping a sixth and then back to original note”) and the student will find it simple to learn that particular passage the next morning. Alternatives to these pills are also available but are much more expensive, including hypnosis, and practicing.

Musical Tuneup Juice–no, this isn’t about tuning the instrument, it’s about  [···]

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When you play music, how do you think about the beat?  Musicians often think of the beat note as the beginning of something, probably because of written music.  After all, the beat note begins every measure, and beamed notes usually connect the beat note with those that follow.

But is that how we hear it?  Is that how we play it?  Maybe most revealing, is that how we sing it?  Not really.  But I suspect that whichever way we think about this can make a big difference in how we play, practice, and teach music. 

Think of the sentence, “The cat climbed up to the top of the tree.”  If you wrote the rhythm of this sentence in music, it would look like this:

             cat rhythm [···]

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