New Year, New Possibilities

Happy New Year! 2014 has been a highly productive and enlightening year for me. I have gained several hundred new subscribers, and my blog has now been translated into over forty languages!

This is something I’m particularly pleased about. I love to help other musicians through sharing what I know, what I’ve learned and discovered. And the fact that my readership continues to grow inspires me to dig more deeply and share even more.

2014 in brief

About mid-year, I changed the design of my blog. I’m pleased with this current design, as it adds many features to allow me to help my readers even more.

Besides writing for this blog, I’ve also written a few articles for other blogs (most recently on Best.Saxpophone.Website.Ever.com), I’ve also put up some new material, free to download, on my Jazz Etudes page. Here’s my newest etude, which just went up this morning.

I’ve also put up two new jazz pedagogy books on my blog this past year, and plan to release two (or three) more in the coming year. The next several of my books will be dealing nearly exclusively with the rhythmic components of improvisation (as opposed to harmony/pitch choice).

The first of these books (which will be available for download in mid-January) is entitled Essential Polymeter Studies In 4/4, and will explore an improvisational concept and skill that I’ve been working with for a number of years now. Writing these books has been an enormously satisfying part of my work this last year. The interest musicians have shown toward my books has been beyond encouraging, and for that I am deeply grateful.

My other work life has been busy, as well as very rewarding. Besides enjoying a lively private practice as an Alexander Technique teacher specializing in helping musicians, I continue to teach at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles.

I’ve had the opportunity to teach a vast array of musicians this year, from elite orchestral performers, to jazz and other improvising artists, to pop/commercial session players, to musical theater artists and more. I feel fortunate to have learned so much from my students.

Besides mindfully practicing the saxophone and jazz improvisation daily, I’ve also had the opportunity to perform and record with some of my favorite improvisers here in the Los Angeles area. I can easily say that I grow to enjoy playing even more each day. It is one of the greatest rewards of my life.

If you subscribe to my blog, you may have noticed that just about everything I write about can be put into one of three categories/subjects:

1. Applying the principles of the Alexander Technique to musical practice and performance.

2. Improving the efficiency of your practice efforts and strategies.

3. Jazz pedagogy (including ear training and etudes)

If you’ve come to my blog for only one of these topics, please consider checking out some of the other things I write about. (You might be pleasantly surprised, and even helped!) I have written over one hundred thirty articles on this blog with the express purpose of helping my fellow musicians.

Everything I write about/teach/explore/share is based upon the well-founded principles of the Alexander Technique (even jazz pedagogy). It is the Technique’s emphasis on quality of process, natural coordination, natural learning, and objective discernment, that informs everything I do, both as teacher and as musician.

What’s new for 2015?

Besides the new jazz pedagogy books, I’ll also be adding some new features to my blog:

1. Audio-I’ll be putting up audio samples of me practicing some of the concepts from my various jazz pedagogy books. I’ll also start making available some of the older recordings I’ve participated in, as well as releasing one or two new albums this year of my own compositions and playing.

2. Video-I plan demonstrating some of my work teaching the Alexander Technique to various musicians, as well as videos of me demonstrating and explaining more efficient, natural and healthy ways to maintain posture and move as you play your instrument or sing.

3. Webinars-I’m hoping to produce my first interactive, educational webinar, most likely explaining and exploring the application of the Alexander Technique to playing music. (Please contact me if you’d like to participate!)

In addition to this, I intend to expand my teaching opportunities via Skype. I’ve been very pleased with how much can be accomplished in this medium. If you’d like to study with me, please get in touch.

I’ll continue to post articles about every two weeks, and will offer at least fifteen new jazz etudes this coming year. If you enjoy my jazz etudes, you probably realize that they are written, not so much for solidifying the “jazz language”, as much as for showing new possibilities in the jazz idiom by exploring the materials of music (harmony, melody, rhythm, form) in different ways.

People sometimes ask me where I get all my ideas from for my articles. I tell them, “I get them from two places: helping my students effectively address their problems; and observing and experimenting with myself and my own learning process as I address my own problems. I’m never at a loss for new ideas.”

And that’s true. Teaching and learning are living, interactive processes, and I’m always grateful for the curiosity and dedication of my students.

On that note, please know that I always welcome your feedback: your questions, your opinions, your ideas, your suggestions, your criticisms. It is this dialogue that brings my work to life and energizes it. So please contact me with any interests you might have. If you’d like me to address a specific topic in an article, I’d be thrilled to do so.

So again, have a Happy New Year, and thanks for your interest in my work, your support and encouragement!

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