A Better Way to Practice

From an article called A Better Way to Practice.

While it may be true that there are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going, there certainly are ways of needlessly prolonging the journey. We often waste lots of time because nobody ever taught us the most effective and efficient way to practice. Whether it’s learning how to code, improving your writing skills, or playing a musical instrument, practicing the right way can mean the difference between good and great.

Tuning ForkAuthor Noa Kageyama makes some very good points that are worth repeating. First, he notes that quality of practice tends to be more important that the quantity of practice. In support of this advice, he quotes violinist Leopold Auer who reportedly said, “Practice with your fingers and you need all day. Practice with your mind and you will do as much in 1 1/2 hours.”

His article discusses the drawbacks to mindless practice and contrasts it with deliberate practice. He also offers some great advice for maximizing your results in practice. Five suggestions he gives are:

1. Focus is everything

2. Timing is everything, too

3. Don’t trust your memory

4. Smarter, not harder

5. Stay on target with a problem-solving model

More details about good practice in Kageyama’s article.

Hard Days Night Chord Solved

The opening chord from the Beatles’ tune A Hard Days Night has been infamously difficult to transcribe by fans wanting to recreate the sound. I have a book of complete Beatles transcriptions that lists this chord as a Gsus4/D. In 2008 a mathematician, Jason Brown, used a Fourier analysis to accurately transcribe the opening chord.

What he found was interesting: the frequencies he found didn’t match the instruments on the song. George played a 12-string Rickenbacker, John Lennon played his 6 string, Paul had his bass – none of them quite fit what he found. He then realized what was missing – the 5th Beatle. George Martin was also on the record, playing a piano in the opening chord, which accounted for the problematic frequencies.

What did he find the chord to be?

George Harrison was playing the following notes on his 12 string guitar: a2, a3, d3, d4, g3, g4, c4, and another c4; Paul McCartney played a d3 on his bass; producer George Martin was playing d3, f3, d5, g5, and e6 on the piano, while Lennon played a loud c5 on his six-string guitar.


Hard Days Night Chord

For fun I took the pitches in this chord and used them to compose a melody and then wrote a short fugue using that melody as a subject (because composing fugues are what I do for fun). It’s in the style of Hindemith, not a baroque style fugue, so I had some fun with dissonance. Here’s a MIDI realization of it. Listen for the Beatles quote near the end.

Asheville Jazz Orchestra plays Stan Kenton Christmas

This Friday evening, December 14, 2012 at 7 PM, the Asheville Jazz Orchestra will be performing our annual Christmas charity fundraiser concert at Trinity United Methodist Church at 587 Haywood Road in Asheville, NC. This year we’re raising funds for Hall Fletcher Elementary School.

This is the sixth year we’ve performed this concert. While the charts change slightly from year to year, it always revolves around the music recorded by the Stan Kenton Orchestra on their Merry Christmas! album from 1961. Sprinkled throughout are some other arrangements of Christmas music, including three of my own this year. One of the charts we’ll be playing is my composition A Visit From St. Nicholas, for big band and narrator. If you’re in western North Carolina this Friday, come on out to hear some great live Christmas jazz and help raise money for a good cause too.

Sorry for the lack of media and links in this post. WordPress has recently done an upgrade and it is conflicting with something in my site and now I can’t get those into a post.

Jack Teagarden’s Water Glass Trick

Here’s a YouTube video I recently came across showing trombonist Jack Teagarden performing his water glass trick. He removes his trombone slide and uses the water glass as a replacement to the bell.

Try it out on your own. It’s not as easy as he makes it look.