Life Skills

How to practice singing

I have also developed a practice process for singing. It's a bit of a different animal from playing the piano. First off, there are a couple of additional score study steps: 1-I generally ask my students to mark their breath plan and mark the word emphasis before starting to sing at all. 2-In addition to translating that foreign language text, I write in the IPA (international phonetic alphabet - basically a pronunciation guide) for any unfamiliar words or any words I am unsure of how to...

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How to practice piano

For those of you left curious by my last post, here’s my score-study process: 1-If I’m dealing with a digital score, I crop and straighten every page so that I’m not dealing with straining to read tiny notes or crooked pages. 2-I slash out all the tied notes. (I don’t remember where I learned this.  I didn’t like it when I first saw it, but this has turned out to be a crucial time saver for reading: I have realized that it allows me to skip processing unessential notes; when they are not...

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Practicing is just as mental as it is physical.

You read that correctly.  While I do have a chart of recommended amounts of daily practice time on my studio policies page, that’s just a basic guideline.  Because it’s not so much about the quantity as the quality.  Well, ok, if you don’t put in the quantity, you won’t get anywhere, but if the quantity is also high quality, you’ll get so much farther.  Personally, I am of the mindset that life is too short to waste, so I want to use my time as efficiently as possible.  Work smarter, not...

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Equalizing your bills

About 6 years ago, Colin and I took a close look at our bills.  As freelancers with income that varied month to month, the timing of several of those bills really hurt.  Of course, some essential bills are due each month (mortgage, gas/electric, cable, health insurance, car insurance, etc.).  Although we took a look at lowering these how we could, these were not the bills that were really hurting us.   Much more hurtful were the four yearly estimated tax payments,...

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Multitasking/Time optimizing

According to the experts you can’t truly multitask.  You wouldn’t know that if you looked at my Google calendar.  Especially in the before-times, I would regularly have multiple events in the same hour slot.   The thing is, I wasn’t truly multitasking, I was just optimizing my time.  This is a freelancer’s super-power.   Much of my regular morning/early afternoon work was accompanying voice lessons.  The teachers typically take the first part of the...

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My kids don’t want to practice!

I hear this so much.  Honestly, I hated practicing as a kid, too.  I didn't start to enjoy practicing until I learned how to do it well; I didn't start to enjoy practicing until I started having flow experiences (when you lose track of time during an activity). As their teacher, I only see my students for up to 1 hour/week, so the best that I can do about this situation is to teach them how to spend their practice time better so that it is not boring.  I often tell my students,...

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Schedule everything

I don’t know about you, but I am a serial over-committer.  I discovered a few years ago the magic of SCHEDULING EVERYTHING.  I put EVERYTHING on my calendar.  Ok, ALMOST everything.  I schedule everything that I would procrastinate if it weren’t scheduled.  (And Google calendar makes this so easy!) In addition to my students, rehearsals, meetings, and other work appointments (I’m a professional musician) that needed to be scheduled because they are specific time...

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You don’t have to be a morning person to be productive.

Almost all the productivity advice I’ve heard/read says that “the key” is to wake up early and get your important tasks done in the morning.  I’m sorry, but we are not all morning people.  We are all programmed differently.  I, for one, am a serious night owl.  I even took an online course once on “how to turn yourself into a morning person.”  Spoiler alert: it didn’t work for me.  But ask anyone who knows me and they have no idea how I get everything done that I...

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