Curated from J.W. Pepper’s CUEDin –
More time at home means more time to practice and create music. But keeping motivated, organized, and stress-free can be challenging. That is when music experts who have worked on their craft for years can help. J.W. Pepper has had the opportunity to interview numerous successful musicians who are leaders in their fields. Here are five of their insights on making music:
“It’s really important for me that I do really slow practice – not just a little slower – super slow practice. I feel that my muscle memory does not work if I am going just a little too fast, even if I do something ten times over and over again… My magic number is seven. If I practice a difficult passage seven times super slow, it just somehow cements whatever that muscle memory is much better into my hands and my brain.”
“Each week has 168 hours, so if (students) come to me for a lesson for an hour, they’re on their own for 167 hours, so who’s really doing the teaching… My job is to teach them how to teach themselves. So I think that is what a big part of practice is – teaching you how to teach yourself… how to work on something so you actually get better at it and seeing the consequences of that. So keep a practice record book.
“A student of mine (told me) ‘I feel like I’m so scattered.’ I said, ‘Keep a record book this week and see what happens.’ He came back the next week and said… ‘That was amazing. I got so much done.’ I said “Yay, that’s why I’m here. Now go practice!’”
“Everybody can sing. This whole idea that some people are tone-deaf is completely mistaken. There are three tone-deaf people on the planet, and the tone-deaf people talk like this (flat) because their voice can’t vary in pitch because they can’t hear any variance in pitch … If someone ever says to you, ‘I’m so tone deaf, I can’t sing at all,’ you can say, ‘Yes, you can. You just don’t know how to match pitch and matching pitch comes with practice.’ … No one is perfect. No one can do it all the time, but we all have the ability to get better and better …. and before you know it, you’ll be able to sing in a quartet on your own, and nothing will enrich your life more.”
“I have a pad of paper I take with me everywhere I go and when I have a thought, I write it on paper. Yes, when I write music I hear voices in my head. I don’t want people to think I’m insane – maybe on some level most composers are, but I literally hear the music in my head. And I can write a full score without going to the piano… I believe that every single person has the ability to compose whether it’s words, whether it’s music, or a combination of both. We just have to be quiet enough to listen to the voice within.”
“Singing was this thing that I would do in private – in secret – whenever I felt scared of the world I would hum, or whenever I was afraid of the dark I would sing… It’s something that brought me comfort… I think subconsciously I thought I would be safe if I was singing.”