Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!
Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah!
While we each have different backgrounds and beliefs, I truly believe we are all brothers and sisters. Candles are an important symbol in many of our winter holidays: our symbol of light over darkness, good over evil, hope and joy quietly chipping away despair. And the holidays are full of beautiful, seasonal music, music that echoes the complexities of our beliefs with their own rich diversity and complexity.
While visiting a dear friend and her family, I came across this gem of a quote. It addresses the very heart of who we are and how we approach life.
It's a quote about our ability to celebrate the wisdoms of all our brothers and sisters. These are our most precious gifts. I cannot think of better gifts to share than music, love, and wisdom. Enjoy your holidays!
A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.
The other day I visited the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park with dear friends who were visting from Canada. The place practically vibrated with a peaceful beauty-- seemingly every plant was singing it's own song of beauty, life, and serenity. I really enjoyed spending time with friends in this special place.
I didn't realize it when I took this photo, but lemons symbolize similar things in many cultures, including wealth, plenty, good fortune, longevity, good health, purification, love, and friendship. Often, lemon is used to refresh, cleanse, or renew. In all things moderation, however: the lemon can also symbolize bitterness and disappointment. I wonder if "too much of a good thing" applies here? The lemon is well known for the adage, "if life gives you lemons, make lemonade." But I say, look at that beautiful lemon! Let's enjoy it!
It's a bit off topic concerning "all things horn," but not really-- part of being human is experiencing life's ups and downs, and these experiences shape and inform us as musicians. When we have the chance to experience beauty, love, friendship, and peacefulness all at once, it is truly a special moment to be cherished. I was so happy in the moment I took this photo.
These are the moments that that give us strength in our music and our life when we need it. These are the moments (and then memories) that transform who we are, as people and as musicians. I hope you "stop and smell the flowers" in your own way today and everyday.
The single most important key to success at horn or any musical endeavor (or life for that matter) is creating the time to let it happen. This concept sounds easy, but it is not so easy to execute. Making practice part of your daily routine requires commitment.
Daily (or nearly daily) practice is critical to becoming a great horn player. To accomplish anything, other things must be set aside. There will always be something else to do or take care of, so you have to prioritize practicing.
Create-and schedule- a specific time for your practice each day. It can change from day to day, but have a set practice time. Treat your scheduled practice time as if you are meeting up with a good friend. Remember, you are investing your precious time and energy into this beautiful music because you love it.
For example, a student's weekly practice schedule might look something like this:
6:00-6:30 PM Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday
5:00-5:30 PM Thursday
7:00-7:30 PM Friday (optional)
10:30-11:00 AM Saturday & Sunday
Many students set timers to remind themselves to practice. Excuse yourself from other activities, including texting and phone calls, and remind everyone that now is the time you have committed to your horn playing.
In my experience, the earlier in the day you practice, the better the practice quality. Most of us are more alert and have more energy, focus, and patience earlier in the day. When your body is relaxed you breathe better, which also improves your playing. Plus, you may be able to add a practice session later in the day if your first session is early enough! :-)
Horn teacher and performer