Free Meditation Timers

It’s nice to not be distracted by the clock while practicing meditation, so a few years ago I created some MP3s to use with my iPod.  These days I tend to use the fancier timer on my cell phone, which is more convenient for me and takes up less drive space on my iPod.  Still, the meditation timers I’ve made available online remain one of my more popular resources.

Here they are.  Each MP3 starts with 30 seconds of silence (to give you a moment to get comfortable) followed by the sound of a bell ringing.  After a period of time the MP3s end with the sound of the bell again.  The files themselves are pretty large, considering that they are mostly silence.

5 Minute Meditation Timer
10 Minute Meditation Timer
15 Minute Meditation Timer
20 Minute Meditation Timer
25 Minute Meditation Timer
30 Minute Meditation Timer

A Stylistic Analysis of Jazz Trombone Through Transcribed Solos

The trombone has been an important instrumental voice in jazz since jazz’s origins. Throughout its history many jazz trombonists have made contributions that have had an influence on other performers, including many non-trombonists. This article traces a timeline of stylistic influence from the early styles of jazz to the present day through the analyses of transcribed solos as played by some of jazz’s most influential trombonists.

Tracing these influences through transcribed solos can show a progression from one style to the next. It can be seen how the earlier players influence the later, after which those players develop their own new styles and in turn influence the musicians to follow. This timeline of influences can be a valuable resource for the jazz performer. A performer who knows how musicians from each style period performed and influenced later musicians will know how to perform within all style periods. Knowledge of the musical roots also allows the performer to build upon influences and create new ideas that break the traditional rules. Continue reading A Stylistic Analysis of Jazz Trombone Through Transcribed Solos

Acoustics of Vibration: Brass and Strings

A common analogy that even I often use is to compare the bow of a string instrument to the air on the brass. Just as the bow moves across the string to create vibration, the air must move past the lips on a brass instrument. Usually I hear this comparison to make a point about breathing, such as there is no sound without the air.

It’s interesting to view the vibrating bowed string and compare it with the vibrations of the lips. Here’s a video showing the vibrating string is slow motion. Continue reading Acoustics of Vibration: Brass and Strings

Embouchure Dysfunction: An examination of brass embouchure troubleshooting

In the above 2 part video I discuss five unique case studies.  Each of these five brass players has some issues in their embouchure which correlate with some noticeable embouchure features.  I try to show how making corrections in their embouchure form, using basic embouchure types as a guide, may lead to improvements in their abilities to play.

There are a few points I wanted to address with this video. Continue reading Embouchure Dysfunction: An examination of brass embouchure troubleshooting

Easy=True: How ‘cognitive fluency’ shapes what we believe

On the surface, ‘cognitive fluency’ seems obvious.  Simply put, people prefer things that are easy to think about than ones that are hard.  What I found surprising, however, is the extent to which cognitive fluency seems to shape our beliefs.  In his article for the Boston Globe, Drake Bennett writes:

Because it shapes our thinking in so many ways, fluency is implicated in decisions about everything from the products we buy to the people we find attractive to the candidates we vote for – in short, in any situation where we weigh information. It’s a key part of the puzzle of how feelings like attraction and belief and suspicion work, and what researchers are learning about fluency has ramifications for anyone interested in eliciting those emotions.”

Understanding how cognitive fluency shapes our beliefs and opinions has important implications for both music pedagogy. Continue reading Easy=True: How ‘cognitive fluency’ shapes what we believe

An Examination of “Paralysis By Analysis”

There is an old story about a frog who sees a centipede moving his 100 legs so elegantly.  Being mystified at how anyone could be able to move so many body parts at once with such grace, the frog asked the centipede how he did it.   The centipede wondered at this question and started to pay attention to how he walked, promptly tripping over his own feet.  Getting up, the centipede tried again to figure out how he moved his feet and immediately fell down one more time.  Eventually, the centipede grew frustrated and told the frog, “I don’t know how I do it and I don’t want to know!”  The centipede ran away (without thinking about his legs) and left the frog to his musings.

The moral of this story is that analysis is bad.  Simply thinking about how you perform a particular motor function (from walking to something as complex as athletic or musical endeavors) will cause a breakdown in your ability to perform that action.  But is this really true?  What is really going on?  Could this be a self-fulfilling prophecy? Continue reading An Examination of “Paralysis By Analysis”