This summer I had a few gigs, in itself nothing extraordinary. But I've been doing so much orchestral playing, that I forgot how much I dig playing in smaller groups. If there is a great spark between the musicians, it will set up a vibe for the event that everyone will love.Read More
Given that I talk a lot about using a metronome I wanted to tell you about the Metronome App that I use: Pro Metronome by EUMLab
I have looked for other metronomes which can do everything I want, but I can't find one except for Pro Metronome.Read More
Another year has come to an end, 2019 has dawned. I always find this a good time to reflect, looking on what went well and what could be iimproved. This past year, there have been many ups and downs, but highlight of the year, was playing the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto with the Philharmonic Society Orchestra.Read More
This last month I've had the good fortune to be able to satiate my appetite for the works of Shostakovitch. This past weekend, German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser and the NZSO performed a phenomenal rendition of Shostakovitch Cello Concerto No. 1.Read More
Even the most innovative of artists has influencers, those that have gone before that have been an inspiration. As musicians, when we interpret a piece of music, we must draw on our own experiences to find our inspiration.
I find it really interesting to know what music people choose to listen to and I wanted to share some of my music choices, turns out it's a very eclectic range.
Is 'good' technique imperative to being a successful instrumentalist, or merely a means for artistic musical expression? Considering both my own and my students techniques I find myself somewhat conflicted. Does the effort of prioritising technical mastery find itself at odds with taking the journey through enjoyable and inspirational repertoire?Read More
A new year has begun, and I find it's a good time to reflect on how everything has been going, things that worked, things that didn't. I feel that this year, things have started to turn a corner in terms of work, but the big thing which I struggled with most this year was my brain. Mental health issues can be a big barrier to success, an obstacle on the journey. But with the right support and techniques there can be ways through, implementing those is top of the list for 2018.Read More
For some, the metronome is the bane of their existence, something to be groaned at. But not me, for me it's one of the most useful tools I have for a good practice session. These are my top 5 creative uses to get the best out of that little ticking box.Read More
Not so long ago I invested in a whole set of new strings. Cello strings tend to last a fairly long time but price can be prohibitive. I started doing some research and there are so many to choose from and a wealth of information available, it can be confusing. I had to figure out what sort of sound I wanted and how that related to the technical aspects.Read More
A few weeks back, having grown a little tired of my current yoga program, I started exploring some of the different yoga channels on YouTube, just to mix it up a bit.
I found this one great channel and wanted to share it because there are a couple of routines that I have found so useful to relieve some of the stresses and tensions of playing.Read More
Most of us know music is an artistic, emotional and often spiritual expression of ourselves. Listening to music can get us excited, cheer us up, it can equally be relaxing and conciliatory.
Playing music can be a reprieve from the daily grind but we can put enormous pressure on ourselves, and this can result in a lot of tensions and anxiety relating to our music.
There has been a lot of publicity about 'Mindfulness' in recent times, I find the idea of focus in the moment and non-judgmental awareness fits in very well in music practice.
New years resolutions that get made in the relaxed and festive 'bubble' of the holiday season, inevitably get forgotten, once the all the parties are over and the reality of life returns.
The antidote might be to make an actual plan - something to work towards and a way to get there. And what better than a plan for practice?
I had the great fortune these last school holidays of assisting in taking a local youth orchestra on a tour to France. The trip surpassed many of my expectations and I found the reaction of both the young musicians and our audiences inspiring.
Music traverses cultural and linguistic barriers. It was fantastic seeing these kids really getting involved and how much they just love music...
Musicians are athletes of a sort. Producing music can be extremely physically demanding, not in the same sense as a marathon runner or a footballer, but it can nonetheless be very demanding on our body. So when i comes to getting fit, the 'Why' is easy; improved physical well being, improved mental well being, better stamina, endurance, focus, alertness, strength. All things that are certainly useful when faced with a grueling rehearsal and performance schedule.
The 'How' is not so straightforward to answer....Read More
Most classical musicians will learn to read music before or in parallel with learning their instrument. But it can be quite challenging, there are so many new and unfamiliar things to be thinking about. So, sometimes it gets lost, the theory bit that is. Many, especially the younger ones, just want to get on with the 'fun' bit - Playing. But as with many things, without some theoretical foundation, most people will be limiting themselves in the long run.Read More
When we really listen to music, we are paying attention, it's not just going on in the background while we think of what we are having for tea or ticking things off the To Do list. We notice the rhythm and harmonies, changes in key or tempo.
When you are playing the music, you must be aware of all these things as well as create them.
It takes concentration...
As we get back into work and school for the year it is the perfect time to start developing good habits... or renew the good habits that have been let slide over the holidays.
The key to successful and productive practice is routine and quality. I'm not talking about the quality of the playing but rather the quality of the practice...Read More
Practice is an interesting thing, there are good ways and bad ways to do it, there are also different opinions on what is the best way. I came to the realisation over the last 12 months or so that I needed to brush up on my practice technique and give it the time that it needed. Practice is as much psychological as physical, keep bringing your concentration back to what you are trying to achieve. Only practice as long as you can maintain your full attention on the notes you are working on...Read More
Keeping motivated is important for all musicians. Practicing, performing and playing in general can all present us with challenges to a degree that we start to have doubts. If you isolate the problem then there are ways to overcome it....Read More
Learning an instrument can involve many physical challenges and it is often necessary to find a certain level of familiarity in navigating it before things like tone and accuracy can really be fine tuned. However, there are simple exercises that can be practised to simultaneously develop the ear that need only a little technical skill. These are just as important as learning where the notes are on the stave or where to put your fingers.Read More