10 Recurring Principles Of Effective Practice (And Performance)

This past year I’ve had the privilege and honor to serve as practice coach and Alexander Technique teacher to some especially outstanding musicians, from elite orchestral members, to studio session pros, to full-time jazz artists. I’m always so thankful for what I learn from my students, and use what I learn not only to help […]

Improvisation: Using Silence As A Part Of Your Expression

It is often said about the great jazz trumpet player, Miles Davis, that a large part of his improvisational genius manifested itself not only in what he played, but also in what he didn’t play. His use of silence became an integral color of all his improvisations. It was largely responsible for keeping us, the […]

An Important Component of Effective Practice That Is Too Often Overlooked

Whenever I meet with a musician for the first time to give a practice coaching session, I ask lots of questions about musical goals, as well as the procedures to attain those goals. In essence, these questions fall under the category of two broader questions: “What would you like to have?”  and “What are you […]

The Thing That Makes You Sound The Most Predictable When You Improvise

Jazz writer Whitney Balliet famously called jazz, “the sound of surprise”. It is this thrill of unpredictable, yet cogent, musical communication that is the essence of jazz (and many other genres of improvised music, too!) And to this day, there are those artists who are still consistently able to  surprise us each time they play. […]

Two Things You Should Be Clear About Each Moment You Begin To Play

One of the things I emphasize when I’m coaching a musician is the importance of regularly redirecting  thought whenever practicing or performing. It is this “redirecting” process that is an essential element of constructive change. It is quite easy to fall into an autopilot frame of mind when spending any length of time with your […]