Thursday, January 07, 2010

Noble Advice

Charles Noble offers some excellent advice to young musicians. Much of his advice makes sense for not-so-young musicians as well. And some of it might even make sense to non-musicians.

One thing I would add is something that Charles demonstrates consistently. Being able to express yourself in writing is a very valuable skill for musicians to possess. It is sometimes hard won, but it is a skill worth developing.

It is very easy, in our current lax educational environment, for high school musicians to "get by" on their talent, and make it through high school without understanding the mechanics of grammar. It is very easy for non-musicians to do it as well. Many high school teachers don't realize (like my teachers didn't realize) that making a life in the musical world involves much more than playing well. The advice I would add to Charles' list would be to go out of your way to learn how sentences and paragraphs are put together. Demand as much from your English teachers (in college as well as in high school) as you demand from your music teachers, and repay them for fulfilling your demands by putting serious time into improving the mechanics of your writing.


Fredrik Montelius said...

1. Practicing isn’t a matter of how many hours you put in, but how many good hours you put in.

This is true, albeit some people cheat themselves into thinking things like "I practice efficinetly, so I don't have to waste four hours a day; two will do". Also, I find it a bit stressful to pursue the "maximum momentum" practice time, because it may cause people to worry too much about not being efficient enough. Efficiency has become a burden on many people today. Teaching people striving to become professional musicians, it may be good, once they are well on their way, but perhaps not so much for music-loving amateurs or for children. Of course: the advice is directed to professionals, so maybe this cautionary stance of mine is déplace.

7. In a professional world where competitions foster musicians to compete, a sense of competition is forged among the musicians. Unfortunatelu, these competitions forge musicians also, to the point that they learn how to win competitions but not so much how to evolve musically. Much has been said on this already, but the advice is difficult to take.

Elaine Fine said...

There is a problem with having so much focus on efficiency. It is like hyper-correction. People with a certain bent towards over-preparing (and stressing out their hands and arms in the process) can really benefit from efficiency, but people who put all of their attention into being efficient with their practice time can forget about the fact that music is fun and can be a source of real personal enjoyment.

It is hard for young people to strike a balance. Developing into a proficient instrumentalist takes a finite amount of time, but developing as a musician takes a lifetime. Sometimes the musical rewards do come from periods of inefficiency, but the technical ones come from efficiency. Unfortunately you can't get to deeper levels of musicianship without the technical means to do so.

Fredrik Montelius said...

True. All of it. I remember now, a British study finding that it takes 10,000 study hours to become a good or great musician. Of course, 10,000 efficient hours is better than 5,000 non-efficient. Still, the study's findings mean that 5,000 efficient hours is not enough to become a very, very good artist. One needs 10,000 hours.,000-hours-of-practice-to-become-a-genius.html