Archive for the ‘Music’ Category
I took years of music lessons, but I had no idea at all how to practice and so the time was in large part wasted. I just came across a very useful NPR post (including a video) that lists the essential steps to effective practice. For example, just point 4 would have done a lot:
4. Begin with the end in mind: Have a goal for each practice session before you start playing. Just playing through your music isn’t the same thing as practicing.Before you start, think: What do I want to accomplish today? If you’re not sure what you need to focus on, ask your teacher for a few concrete goals to work toward before the next lesson — and write them down so that you can refer to them during your practice sessions.
For those whose interest is specifically the piano—a dwindling cohort—I strongly recommend Playing the Piano for Pleasure, by Charles Cooke. Cooke was an amateur pianist who worked for the New Yorker and wrote many profiles of professional musicians. Whenever the subject interviewed was a pianist, Cooke asked quite a few questions related to his own interest in playing the piano, and ultimately wrote this (wonderful) book, based on what he learned.
The link is to relatively inexpensive hardbound editions. Cooke used two-color printing to show how he marks up a score to make it easier to learn and play—his markings printed in red on the score printed in black. Unfortunately, the paperback versions are (a) paginated incorrectly and (b) printed only in black, so in looking at the score his markings are indistinguishable from the original score. So the only recourse is to get the hardbound edition, but if you’re an amateur pianist, it’s a totally wonderful book. (It would be a fantastic gift for a pianist.)
Video of Gould near the end of his life, working on The Art of Fugue.
Fascinating article. The Son once played harmonica.
Jack in Amsterdam sent a link to an interesting article that includes a slide show of photographs. Here’s one:
The article is definitely worth reading, and it includes this music video. Jack notes:
“Die Antwoord” = The Answer
“Platteland” = Countryside
And I know a fine way to treat a Steinway. Let me immediately recommend the wonderful book Men, Women, and Pianos, a social history of the piano by Arthur Loesser. (At the link, inexpensive secondhand editions.) Open Culture offers a couple of short videos on the making of a Steinway—a piano is a mechanical marvel—and you can see a full-length version in the highly enjoyable documentary, Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037 (available on Netflix Streaming, as you see at the link).
Everything in this post is recommended.
A fascinating note in The Scientist by Chris Palmer.
When members of a choir get together, they do more than harmonize their voices. Singing demands certain breathing patterns, and as breathing becomes coordinated, heart rates follow, according to research published Tuesday (July 9) in Frontiers in Psychology.
It’s been known since the mid-1800s that respiration rate and variability in heart rate are linked. In general, pulse increases during inhalation and decreases during exhalation. “When you exhale you activate the vagus nerve, we think, that goes from the brain stem to the heart,” lead author Bjorn Vickhoff, a musicologist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, told BBC News. “And when that is activated, the heart beats slower.”
The entrainment of heart rate to breathing—called the respiratory sinus arrhythmia—underlies the proposed health benefits of activities such as yoga and prayer recitation. Rosary reading has been found to induce a rhythmic pattern of breathing once every 10 seconds, a rate suggested by previous research to create the strongest respiratory sinus arrhythmia.
Vickhoff’s team monitored the heart rates of 15 teenage choir members singing together and demonstrated that a similar entrainment could be achieved through singing. They further showed that the singers’ heart rates became synchronized.
Songs with more structure, such as slow chants requiring steady breathing every 10 seconds in between phrases, were found to induce a stronger synchrony in the singers’ heartbeats than free singing or humming.