Friday, February 27, 2015

CTO … A Little Ice Music

It's been that kind of week … or two. Ice and snow have disrupted work schedules, school days, lesson plans. Hang in there … first day of spring only three weeks away! Hope you're staying safe and warm, and finding lots of extra practice time.

In case you need a distraction, Check This Out … a little winter entertainment!

Ice Chimes & Pancake Ice on Lake Superior

Norway Musicians Play Instruments Made of Ice

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday's Muse

Despite the forecast, live like it's spring.  ~ Lilly Pulitzer

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Get Me There … FAST!

A fellow Trapezoid (thanks Phill!) has recommended a video by Josh Kaufman, author of The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything … Fast!

I like this guy's attitude.

Maybe you've heard that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. This idea was put forth in Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers, and is often quoted in guidelines for "practice".

But who has 10,000 hours and 10 years to spare?? That's a little overwhelming, isn't it? And maybe we don't expect to be "experts" in our chosen field, anyway. Maybe we just want to be good enough to have fun.

Kaufman suggests that a person can go from zero to reasonably skilled in a shorter amount of time. How does 20 hours sound? That's 40 minutes per day over one month. You think you can do that?

Based on research regarding how we learn, Kaufman says (and this is key) if we systematically increase deliberate practice, we can increase skills in any given area. His outline for success:

  1. Set a goal. Clearly define what your end result will be.
  2. Deconstruct the goal into its most essential component parts.
  3. Research. Skim your resources. Learn just enough information to identify what's really important in order to self-correct. Don't use this step to procrastinate!
  4. Remove barriers that will interfere with practice time. Turn off the TV, the computer, the phone. Keep things set up and handy. Make practice convenient.
  5. Pre-commit to at least 20 hours of practice. It's reasonable. It's do-able!
After 20 hours, re-evaluate:
  • Are you having fun? Is this something you want to continue? What's your next goal? Go for another 20 hours!
  • Having more frustration than fun? Thinking this particular skill may be not for you at this time? Be grateful for the experience. Adjust your goal. Move on to something else.
Here's the link to the video:

Sometimes the hardest part is identifying goals. I challenge each of you to set a goal for your next 20 hours of practice. If you're one of my students I would be happy to help you identify the sub-skills required to meet your goal. Imagine what you might accomplish in 20 hours over the next month or so! Share your results here, if you like. Let's do it!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday's Muse

Music brings a warm glow to my vision, thawing mind and muscle from their endless wintering.  ~ Haruki Murakami

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Face of a Hammered Dulcimer Player

I hate to see pictures of myself playing the hammered dulcimer. The look of concentration on my face might suggest that I am certainly "in the throes" of playing.

Definition of THROE
plural, a hard or painful struggle

Truly, if I'm concentrating very hard the look on my face can be pretty harsh. I've tried to train myself to go for at least a neutral look, not so frown-y. The hilarious thing is, my best smiley faces occur immediately after messing up!

So, if you see me playing out there in the world, rest assured … I'm having more fun than it looks!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Monday's Muse

You know what music is? God's little reminder that there's something else besides us in this universe; harmonic connection between all living beings, everywhere, even the stars.  ~ Robin Williams in August Rush 2007

Monday, February 2, 2015

Monday's Muse

There are only a few notes. Just variations on a theme.  ~ John Lennon