We are wrapping up our February Cabin Fever Practice Derby in my teaching studio. We used code names on a leaderboard and tracked our practice over the course of the month using sparkly stars. Prizes included symphony ticket vouchers, CD’s and rosin. Everybody gets a giant pencil for participating.
The best part was the first week of lessons when we brainstormed about practice. Why do you practice? What do you do when you practice? What do you associate with bad practice days and good practice days? It led to some good insights into practice routines and I learned quite a bit about each of my students. It turns out they don’t all have the sticky blobby baggage ridden complicated relationship with the practice routine that I have. Huh.
Every single one of them answered the first question “Why do you practice?” with “to get better”. As I started to move on to the next question so we could talk about ways to get better, some of them kept going: “to learn new pieces”, “it’s calming, it relaxes me”.
Thanks to some wise grasshoppers, I’ve started seeing my own practice as time to get work done – as usual – but also as time to explore new things and a chance to make a calm centered space to work in. Thanks, guys.
A few of the great things that have happened since my last post:
Milkhouse Radio played a barn wedding last summer and we played my tune Port Charles Waltz for the groom-and-his-mom dance.
Last fall I got the chance to hop in Paragon Ragtime Orchestra‘s musical time machine and I am hooked. How I love playing those mid/low falutin’ ragtime viola parts with these world class musicians. Good music and great people, I cannot ask for more. Can’t wait to play some more genuine ragtime music in classic theaters this spring.
Ken Vandermark released Audio One’s final record: What Thomas Bernhard Saw. I am really proud of the moments the viola emerges from Ken’s compositions on this record and couldn’t ask for a better souvenir of the incredibly deeply good times I had playing and working with this group. David Zukowski and Ken did a miraculous job, recording and producing another stellar live album.