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  […]

Teaching and Learning Music: Being Mindful of Metaphors

Whenever I give a first Alexander Technique lesson to a musician, it is not uncommon that certain misconceptions about playing music come to light. It is ofttimes  an anatomic and/or physiologic misconception specific to the physical demands of playing the particular instrument. It can also be a misconception about the acoustical principles involved with the […]

Tone, Imagination and Skill

After several Skype consultations in the past few weeks with various wind instrumentalists, I’m reminded again about a pervasive misconception that many musicians who work conscientiously on growing and improving their sound tend to cling to. (I’m thinking most specifically about wind and string players, but this applies to any instrumentalist.) Put simply, improving and cultivating […]