What inspires me?
My students inspire me to:
- learn new repertoire
- play favorite repertoire again
- analyze my new repertoire to discover hidden harmonic gems
- explore new soundscapes even in my practice time
- to creatively teach my congregation new hymns
- to set goals for planning and performing two new solo concert programs
- to not be afraid of difficult challenges in repertoire
- to practice …oh…and practice some more!
Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist and instructor of organ and piano
What a great practice idiom!
start each practice session
- tenaciously with specific goals in mind
- and with lion-like energy
so you can
end each practice session
- rejoicing in goals met
- with lamb-like exuberance
While traveling I had the opportunity to catch up on some reading and came across a thought-provoking article by Drew Faust, President of Harvard and Wynton Marsalis, noted classical and jazz musician on “The Art of Learning.” Dr. Faust and Marsalis espoused that “we need learning that incorporates what the arts teach us.”
Excerpting their article, I’d like to share some of their thoughts with you as you plan your goals and find ways to realize your musical dreams in the coming months:
- The arts are about imagining beyond the bounds of the known.
- The arts embrace the past and the future of the human mind and soul.
- Playing music can be both a model and a metaphor for important aspects of the life we are called to lead.
Music stresses individual practice and technical excellence.
Learning to play or paint, dance, sing or act, means constantly being refashioned, constantly demanding risk.
Dealing with one’s inevitable mistakes is a part of an artist’s education.
Let’s learn to:
- practice til it hurts,,
- bravely take the stage,
- create and innovate,
- and, after hitting that wrong note — follow it up with the right one.
Use photos as an improvisation tool to help students explore an instrument, a technique, or a compositional idea.
- A photo of a waterfall encourages students to explore the full range of the keyboard
- A picture of jagged mountain peaks encourages students to use full hand chords to create power
- A photo of a roiling clouds with streaks of lightning encourages students to explore the power of the bass in contrast to quick rapid notes in the upper register of the instrument
- A photo of mist-shrouded valleys encourages the use of the sustain pedal
- A picture of bagpipers encourages the use of 5ths as an accompaniment to a jaunty melody
- A photo of bumblebees encourages the exploration of 2nds and rapid running passages
Obviously the list is endless and with today’s technology one can easily share photos via the electronic devices most of us carry.
shared by one of my students —
1. Raise the “priority” of practice. Make it one of your prime goals instead of getting the time left overs of your day.
2. Don’t over practice a piece. When I do I start believing I know it and will then lose concentration. Go on to another piece and then come back later if you want to play it more.
3. Have some fun. Vary the voicing, even to extremes. Mess with the rhythm and time. Save a “lollipop” to reward yourself with at the end of your practice session that you can play well that will leave you with a good feeling.
Dr. Jeannine Jordan, teacher and concert organist
Fall is here…
and it’s time to “hunker down”
We’ve had nearly a week of off-and-on rain, wind, showers, rain, wind, a sunbreak, rain, and more rain. What a perfect week it has been to “hunker down” and enjoy our music room. Years ago one of my beach students added “hunker down” to my vocabulary. His thought was that practice sessions are more frequent and more productive during those fall and winter months when the weather gives us good reason to “hunker down” and focus on creating music. So “hunker down” for some great practice! ‘Tis the season!
Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist