The Practice Page


The Practice Page

Finding Inspiration

by Kevin Hart on 04/02/18

I recently listened to an interview with pianist Randy Weston. (You can listen to it here.) The interviewer asked the 92 year old Mr. Weston if he was the type who began his day by playing the piano. To the interviewers (and my) surprise, Mr. Weston replied that, no, he did not. Rather, he began the day by listening to recordings of the masters who inspired him.


As I was having a difficult time beginning my own practice (I was, after all, frittering my time away listening to podcasts), I decided to give it a try. I put on a recording that has always inspired me. Sure enough, before the first track had ended, I found myself excited to take out my guitar and practice. What a good way to start the day.


The lesson here is simple: Listen to your elders. They may know a thing or two.

And, by the way, the recording was “The Art of Julian Bream”.


Humidifiers and Hygrometers

by Kevin Hart on 03/06/18

In dry climates or dry times of year, it’s important to keep our guitars hydrated.

There are a number of products available to help us in this important pursuit. We’ll look at a few of them in this post. We will also discuss a few good practices to follow.


Room Humidifiers


Keeping the room that you store your guitars and practice in is important. They come in a variety of sizes and price points. Look for the one that will humidify the square footage that you have. Keeping house plants or even open bowls of water can help in smaller areas, too.

Guitar stands or wall hangers are convenient, but should only be used temporarily. The best place for your guitar, while not in use, is in the case.


Instrument and Case Humidifiers


There are a great number of instrument and case humidifiers available. These are usually tubes of rubber, plastic, or fiber containing something to hold water, such as sponges, gels, or saturated salt packages. Sponge types in rubber tubes can come in contact with the interior of the guitar and cause damage. Hard plastic cases can be accidentally dropped and dent or crack the top of the instrument. Gel filled fiber tubes are easy to use and tell you by their shrinkage when they need to be refilled. Saturated salt packs are more expensive, but keep the relative humidity at just about 50% exactly (where your guitar is happiest) and avoid the problem of over humidifying, as well.


Hygrometers


Having a hygrometer is a good idea to see if a humidifier is needed and to make sure that the humidifier is working properly. Hygrometers range from simple dials to digital to Bluetooth enabled units that communicate with your smartphone. One thing to keep in mind about hygrometers is that they all have some degree of error and need to be regularly calibrated. Hygrometer calibration kits are relatively inexpensive and easy to use.


So, keep those guitars (and yourselves!) hydrated and happy practicing!


Summer Institutes

by Kevin Hart on 02/15/18

A great part of the Suzuki experience is attending a summer institute. It’s a great opportunity to learn from new teachers, make new friends, study in a new setting, and learn that you are a part of something larger than just our little studio.

Summer institutes happen all around the country and the world, so it’s easy to find one in an area that you may be already visiting, or would like to visit. Studying music in a new place can also be invigorating and refreshing.

Some summer institutes are just for guitar, while others include other instruments. Both models are exciting and valuable educational experiences.

Go to this websites institute page to learn more about the first ever Laramie Suzuki Guitar Institute.

Another Share: Music Invisibilia

by Kevin Hart on 01/28/18

Here is a post from musician and blogger Elaine Fine. I've never met Elaine in person. but have enjoyed her music for guitar and more, as well as her blog posts.

Thank you, Elaine.

The Sound of Success

by Kevin Hart on 01/23/18

If you're new to Suzuki Guitar, or need a review, here's a good place to start.

Enjoy.

Taking a break from competition

by Kevin Hart on 12/06/17

Sorry to bother you, but what if there was something more important than competition and sports or politics... which, ok, are pretty much the same thing…? What about nature or music? I know... nature and music can be caught up in competition and sports or politics...but they're still different enough.


And when someone says that ensemble playing in music promotes teamwork, just like sports, they're not quite right. True, musicians work as a team. But the goal is not to defeat anyone else. The goal is to lift everyone else. Nature does the same. It's there for everyone and lifts us all.


That sounds better to me. So let's put aside competition. Let's create something beautiful together. Let's lift each other instead of trying to defeat the other team.


Announcing the Laramie Suzuki Guitar Institute 2018

by Kevin Hart on 11/13/17

We are pleased to announce that we have been given approval from the Suzuki Association of the Americas to hold the Laramie Suzuki Guitar Institute. The Institute will run from July 30-August 3. Faculty include Mychal Gendron and David Madsen. 

Please click on the "Institute" tab for more information
Thanks to all who have made this possible. We're excited to bring this event to Laramie and equally excited to welcome visitors to our town.

More on fingernails, the guitarists violin bow

by Kevin Hart on 10/25/17

I've written before about the importance of fingernails in creating a beautiful tone.

Here is a great article from the Classical Guitar Blog on the subject. Enjoy, learn, practice. As Dr. Suzuki said "Tone has a living soul".

Competition and Contemplation (ft. Service)

by Kevin Hart on 10/19/17

I’ve been thinking, lately, about competition. A family in the studio, deeply involved in sports, academia, and other competitive endeavors, asked about guitar competitions.  And while competitions certainly exist, and can provide motivation, I wonder about their true value in society and to the individual today.


In the interest of full disclosure, as they say, much of what I do and am interested in can be found in competitions. Music, nordic skiing, and even fly fishing (!) have competitions associated with them. But the reason I, personally, am attracted to these pursuits is not about competition, but, rather, contemplation. Each of them offer the opportunity to look within oneself and learn.


Perhaps in a world where so much emphasis is placed on “winners” and “losers” (italics, mine), it would be a good idea to take time to just “be”. To just feel. To just think.


And if you want to have the interaction with others that competition offers, consider, perhaps, service. Doing something with your music, or your time, to help others. Everyone wins that way.


Music as language

by Kevin Hart on 09/21/17


Victor Wooten is here with a lesson about learning music as we learn language. Very Suzuki, I think. Enjoy.