The Practice Page


The Practice Page

Preparing for a Masterclass

by Kevin Hart on 07/13/18

Blog Post Masterclasses


Masterclasses are situations unique to music. They can be wonderful or they can be uncomfortable. I think that the key to have good experience is to be prepared.


  • Play music that you are comfortable with and have securely memorized. Your masterclass teacher isn’t there to help you with fingerings, notes, or rhythms. The teacher is there to help you understand the music and perform it better. As Dr. Suzuki said; “Raise your ability with a piece that you know.”

  • Have your music, a pencil, and a notebook ready. You could also ask the teacher for permission to record the lesson.

  • Make sure that your instrument is ready with new strings and is cleaned up.

  • Have your footrest or support on hand.

  • Be prepared to listen, learn, and to try new ideas that your teacher may have.

  • Listen closely to other students who are playing at the masterclass. You can learn a lot by observing your peers.

  • When you go home afterwards, practice the ideas that the masterclass teacher gave you right away. Share these ideas with your regular teacher.


Have a great masterclass, everyone!






Traveling With A Guitar

by Kevin Hart on 06/13/18


Here's a timely reprint:

It's summer, and many of you will be taking to the air in your travels. Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a musician like a cranky gate agent at the airport. But there’s no reason for you, or your beloved instrument, to stay home.

New TSA Rules for Musical Instruments

New TSA rules allow musical instruments that can fit into overhead bins to be allowed on board if there is space available when the passenger enters the aircraft. This does not mean that every instrument will be allowed. Be sure to be in the earliest boarding group possible for your best chances.

Instrument Care

It’s dry up here, even when it’s raining (or snowing!), so it’s a good idea to use a humidifier in your string instrument. Many humidifiers are available from your local music store or online. Please read the instructions that come with your humidifier, many should only be used with distilled water and not tap water. Check them regularly and make sure that you keep them filled.

Shipping your instrument

Think about it. How did your instrument get to you? More likely than not it was shipped to you, your teacher, or local music store. Here is a video about how you can make arrangements to have your instrument shipped to your final destination.

Accessories

Be sure to always bring extra strings with you. You can bank on breaking one the further you are from a music store on a Saturday night!




Music

by Kevin Hart on 05/03/18

As I've said before, a wise person once told me that websites about music should have some music on it. Here's some. George Sakellariou (the guitarist on the Suzuki Books 5-7 CDs) plays Tarrega on a beautiful instrument by Antonio de Torres from 1862. Often thought of as the Stradivarius of guitar builders, Antonio de Torres' innovations helped to define the modern classical guitar. The instrument has a sweet, velvety, rich, deep tone. (And, for those of you of a certain age, the Tarrega "Gran Vals" is where the Nokia ringtone came from. Listen.) Enjoy.

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.