release

Cultivating Softness, Strength, Clarity, and Calm: 3 Basic Yoga Techniques for Musicians — by Elana Katz

There are many yoga techniques that one can use to cultivate heightened awareness, calm the nervous system, center one’s thoughts, and achieve increased mental clarity. As an artist and performer myself, I can testify that yoga can help to foster creative and artistic clarity as well. What follows is a brief introduction to a few basic principals and practices in yoga that can be useful for musicians, with the instrument and in daily life. 1. Breathing  Deepening the breath calms the nervous system and oxygenates the blood. In physical yoga positions, which are called “asanas”, deep breath is used continuously over the course of the whole practice. "Deepening the breath" means an elongation of both the inhale and the exhale. When we are nervous, the breath becomes shallow. Some people [...]

Exploring Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony — by Jonathan Pegis

Here in just a few measures is an excerpt that has confused, befuddled, and downright scared more cellists than just about any other excerpt (please click image to enlarge): The theme from the second movement of Beethoven's fifth, along with the first two variations, shows up on the vast majority of cello audition lists.  I thought it would be educational to spend some time exploring this theme, and future blogs will explore the first and second variations.  To begin with, this excerpt is one of a handful that I have coached for many years where I am actually LESS confident than I used to be.  Why?  Because every teacher, every coach, and every conductor has had radically different ideas about all the different aspects of this theme.  Temp, color, dynamic, [...]

Finesse — by Brant Taylor

Any musician who has interests outside the realm of music has probably discovered ideas and concepts important to other disciplines which are directly applicable to the study and performance of music.  The lessons we can learn about greatness from outside our own field are often very powerful because the underlying principles tend to be universal and not confined to any single discipline.  For the famed American chef Thomas Keller, there is one word he uses to describe his entire philosophy of approaching his craft at the highest level: finesse.  Chef Keller apparently doesn't want anyone who works for him to forget it—the word and its dictionary definition are emblazoned directly on the tiles above the entrance to the kitchen at Per Se, his high-end (and delicious) New York City restaurant: [...]