The Art of the Ostinato

An ostinato is a musical motif or phrase that is persistently repeated.  Here are three pieces from the Baroque period that are constructed around a repeating bass line known as a basso ostinato, or ground bass.  In each case, the bass line provides the framework for a set of increasingly complex and thrilling variations.  It’s as if the composer is saying, “Listen to how clever and inventive I can be!” Canon in D…Johann …

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Ten Tips For Practicing

The beginning of a new year is a great time to evaluate our practicing and to reaffirm our commitment to consistent, thoughtful practicing.  How we practice is as important as how much we practice.  Here are some tips to keep in mind: 1. Practice Every Day In some ways, practicing is like exercise.  If it’s sporadic you won’t see progress and you’ll be constantly frustrated.   When practicing becomes a part of your daily routine, …

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Suzuki's Vital Points

Dr. Suzuki listed ten Vital Points for violin playing.  He used these points to develop a weekly progress report that allowed students and parents to chart improvement over time.*  Suzuki’s emphasis on Vital Points suggests that the important question to ask is not “How quickly can I move from one piece to another?” but instead, “How beautifully can I play?”  Suzuki acknowledged that each student develops at their own pace.  He patiently enjoyed this process with the conviction that, given the correct environment, all students can learn.

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Test Your Practice Skills

Dr. Suzuki told his students: “Only practice on the days that you eat.”  This is good advice, but it’s also important to evaluate the quality of your practicing.  It’s not just about the hours you put in, but what you put in the hours!  Suzuki’s triangle (student, parent, teacher) gives parents the vital role of guiding their child’s practice sessions at home.  Practicing correctly helps students develop self discipline, perseverance, and an …

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Take A Friend To The Orchestra

In 2006 Drew McManus asked me to contribute an article to his annual Take A Friend To The Orchestra series. Widely regarded as an industry expert, Drew is a respected orchestra consultant and the author of the popular blog, Adaptistration. Soliciting ideas from a wide range of perspectives within the music business, Take A Friend To The Orchestra (TAFTO) tackles the challenge of introducing orchestral music to people who are not in …

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