Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy New (School) Year!

It's that time of year again. The nights are getting cooler, and shiny white sneakers and notebook paper are on sale---the school year is about to begin! I've always found this time of year fascinating. More so that New Year's resolutions, the new school year is a chance to create positive change for oneself and others. Like a snake that regularly sloughs off its old skin, we have an opportunity to change unnecessary habits and seek out ways to renew our efforts as artists. After a summer to rest and reflect, we begin a semester energized and hopeful.

So, dear reader, I ask: What are your goals for the semester and year? What kind of student do you want to be?

I hope you'll look to the new semester as a time to develop yourself, delve deeply into your studies with curiosity, and seek out new experiences and inspirations that inform and strengthen your own creative endeavors. I'll be doing the same with my own teaching and learning and look forward to our collaborative journey.

Before you walk into your first class, lesson, or practice room session, ask yourself: what are your goals for this new time? How will you achieve these goals? I encourage you to submit your comments/thoughts/goals to this blog so you can share your ideas with all of us.

There are exciting times my friends; make the most of our yearly renaissance.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Shakespeare and how to play music.

  I've always believed that literature, art, philosophy and science bring invaluable depth and meaning to our lives and our music. Today I thought I'd send you some  important teaching from our greatest English bard,  Mr.  Shakespeare himself.  In fact,  the renowned violin pedagogue Josef Gingold often had his students read these exact lines below.   The lines are from Hamlet,  as he is giving advice to those about to perform a play. It is interesting how so much of this speech can be internalized for a fine musical performance! The lines are below, but if Shakespeare's language does not come trippingly on the tongue for you,  read the text first,  then follow the link below for a "translation"  of sorts.   Then get to work making connections to your own practice!  Enjoy.

Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion
be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the
word to the action; with this special o'erstep not
the modesty of nature: for any thing so overdone is
from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the
first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the
mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature,
scorn her own image, and the very age and body of
the time his form and pressure. Now this overdone,
or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful
laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the
censure of the which one must in your allowance
o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. O, there be
players that I have seen play, and heard others
praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely,
that, neither having the accent of Christians nor
the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so
strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of
nature's journeymen had made men and not made them
well, they imitated humanity so abominably.