Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Creative Enhancement

After a serendipitous encounter at Austin Community College, I asked Bill Whisenant, author of Psychological Kinesiology: Changing the Body's Beliefs to come into the studio for a chat. I heard his presentation on "Enhancing Creativity", and wanted to share his messages about tapping into the creative recesses of the brain with the members at Violin Lab. Coincidentally, Bill had just taken up viola and recognized me from from his online quest for instructional videos on viola playing.

During this interview, a scary thing happened. Bill asked me to improvise on a simple chord progression. As a classically trained musician who is rarely divorced from the "page", I find improvisation to be stressful. My expectations for quality performance over-ride any enjoyment I might possibly derive. Years of training for polished performances do not leave a great deal of room to "mess around". But it is precisely in the "messing around" that, according to Bill, unleashes creativity in other aspects of our lives, even in unexpected ways. So, that being said, I humble myself before anyone who watches this next part of the interview.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Violin Practice Fundamentals, part 5: Wood shedding

Let the Wood Shedding Begin

It wasn’t until I was well into my first year of college when the weekly assignments of scales, etudes, sonatas…grew to what seemed like unmanageable amounts. There weren’t enough hours in the day to practice everything. One of the most important skills I learned was how to woodshed. The concept was pretty simple: practice a very small chunk of music over and over until you get it right. In a word: repetition. It wasn’t until graduate school however, that I realized mere repetition was just not sufficient to exact the kind of progress I wanted to see happen. I had to refine the good old-fashioned wood shedding technique by infusing it with heightened awareness and mindfulness.