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Kinesthetic Awareness

In our attempt to improve our proficiency at playing a musical instrument (or any physical activity), there is a natural tendency to analyze what we are doing. We begin to dissect a particular aspect of playing into its physical components, hypothesize about how we are being inefficient, determine a way to correct course, and then…

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The Power of Attention

I rarely share personal information with this blog, but this month I wanted to wish congratulations to my mother. For those of you who don’t know, my mom recently retired from a three decade long career as an elementary school band director. She had a phenomenal gift for making music accessible to a huge number…

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The Graduation Speech I Never Heard

I normally try to avoid blogging about career advice. The topic is already so widely covered across the internet, and most of the articles are all very similar. However, over the past year I have been approached by a multitude of recent graduates requesting a blog devoted to this topic. I also felt humbled that…

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Does Positive Reinforcement Really Work?

Anyone who has studied education, business, parenting, or spent any significant time in a leadership role has probably come across the phrase “positive reinforcement.” For some reason the mere mention of this phrase seems to inspire an intense degree of animosity and derision with certain people. They will tell you that it simply does not…

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Playing Without Pain

In the midst of digging out after this record-setting snowstorm, I was contemplating many of the pedagogical discussions I have either read about or participated in over the years concerning technique for singers and instrumentals. Musicians of all stripes have been debating the “correct” way to play or sing for a very long time. In…

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Ten Ways To Be a Better Student

With so much attention these days given to evaluating teachers, teaching methods and the education system as a whole, I wanted to devote this month’s blog post to the other side of the educational process: learning. From time to time I will receive a call from a current or former student to complain about how…

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What Everyone Needs to Know About Brass Instruments

Since as long as anyone can remember brass players have been trying to figure out ways to increase their range, play louder, and get around their horns faster. A few of them occasionally even ponder about how to play more musically, get a warmer sound, refine their articulations, play in tune/in time better, and even…

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What I Learned from Recording Myself

As many of my friends and colleagues already know, I recently released my first solo recording called Strohman Says. I wanted to devote this month’s blog to all my experiences with this project from start to finish. Many of us have come to accept audio recording as fairly trivial and routine endeavor in this age…

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Music Education in the Information Age

As I was once told by a professor of mine, the tides of history always seem to wash everything with them. At the time he was referring to the second world war. Nearly ever aspect of humanity was affected by that single event—science, technology, agriculture, manufacturing, education, politics, religion, philosophy, art, literature, and of course…

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How to Know Who’s Right

One of the most frustrating things about studying music is hearing such completely different advice from so many different people. Your private teacher will tell you one thing, but a highly esteemed judge from a competition will tell you the complete opposite. A great player you admire will tell you something, but a conductor you…

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