Deep Listening: Thoughts from a Master Improviser

One of my all-time favorite musicians is pianist, composer, improviser and educator, Ran Blake, who has been teaching at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music for over 40 years. He has also amassed a significant body of recorded work that is simply stunning. The first time I heard his music, the most significant impression it […]

Optimizing Practice: Giving Consciousness Priority Over Repetition

Anybody who knows me as an Alexander Technique teacher knows that I’m not a big fan of what is commonly referred to as “muscle memory”. Besides the fact that the name itself is misleading and overly simple (it’s not so much your muscles “remembering”, as it is your brain changing how it communicates with your […]

The “Other” Essential Skill You Should be Consciously Cultivating in Your Daily Practice

Your sound. The sound you imagine and create on your instrument is the defining element of who you are as a musical artist. I’ve yet to encounter a serious musician who doesn’t consciously  dedicate a certain amount of time daily exclusively  to the exploration and cultivation of their sound. A beautiful sound is perhaps the  […]

Improvising Music Is…

…a beautiful human phenomenon. It is as equally complex as it is immediately expressive and natural. I’ve been seriously studying improvisation for over 40 years, and consider the process of improvisation to be one of the greatest blessings of my life. As a musician, I see myself as an improviser first and foremost, and secondarily […]

Improvising, in Contrast to “Practicing Improvisation”

The other night while giving a practice coaching session via Skype to a very good jazz guitarist, an interesting issue arose. Though he had been putting in long hours of practice, diligently and intelligently working on the specific skills he would like to develop as an improviser, he found his actual experience  whenever improvising oddly […]