(Warning, there are a few swears. And I was a bit over-caffeinated, so I was talking much faster than usual.)
A new article for freelance teachers on the Teach Well blog:
After teaching lessons full time for ten years, I started to burn out. Although I had several awesome students, I was frustrated working with those who were apathetic, unprepared, or had a poor attitude. Over time, I became more complacent and distracted as a teacher, which wasn’t a good situation for anyone. The key to reinvigorating my studio wasn’t more willpower or grit — it was introducing a ‘Red Velvet Rope Policy’.
Public school teachers need to serve every student who shows up. As freelance teachers, we have the opportunity to be selective about who we work with. In the business development guide Book Yourself Solid, author Michael Port outlines a system for screening clients called “The Red Velvet Rope Policy”. Port tells us: “when you work with clients you love, you’ll truly enjoy the work you’re doing; you’ll love every minute of it. And when you love every minute of the work you do, you’ll do your best work, which is essential to book yourself solid.”
Also, see The Five Levels of Freelance Teaching.
I created a Creativity Triggers for Musicians Facebook group to connect readers and creative musicians all over the world.
Of course, our most important connections are playing music together in real life. The value of a digital community is that we can:
– Connect with musicians across the globe
– Share music
– Ask and answer questions
– Find collaborators
– Share insight and resources
To create and perform great music, we need to connect with other people. Our creative practices are often stuffed into a practice room, isolating us from our peers. If we can break out of that sense of isolation, we can create more and connect with wider audiences.
– Kaley Lane Eaton, composer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist
Download a free digital copy of my new book Creativity Triggers for Musicians. See you in the Facebook group.
Download a free digital copy of my new book Creativity Triggers for Musicians.
Creativity isn’t a mysterious or magical gift. It’s a practice.
Creativity Triggers for Musicians will help you express your unused creativity, break through barriers, and create an abundance of original music.
– Eight creative practices that underpin idea generation in any creative discipline.
– Creativity Triggers: frameworks for improvisation that draw from creative practices. These are similar to improv theater games and creative writing prompts.
I’m writing a series of articles for private music teachers on the Teach Well blog. I’m sharing everything I wish I knew when I was first starting out.
My first article shares a framework that transformed my teaching career a couple years ago. Please share with any private teachers or aspiring freelancers you know.
This is a preview of new book Creativity Triggers for Musicians. Reserve a free digital copy.
Practicing can be a game, the goal is a deeper knowing of musical sound. One strategy is to draw the greatest variety of music from the smallest amount of material . . . [These] games are the kind master and beginner can play with skill.
– W. A. Mathieu, The Listening Book: Discovering Your Own Music
This chapter introduces Creativity Triggers, frameworks for improvisation that draw from the eight creative practices in Chapter One. Creativity Triggers are similar to creative writing prompts and improv theater games—these exercises help us narrow our focus and generate new ideas through experimentation and play.
When my wife and I were planning our wedding, our minister could sense we didn’t have a clear vision for our ceremony. She offered us her “Chinese Takeout Menu of Wedding Ceremonies,” which listed options for openings, readings, vows, and closings. This menu was a huge relief and helped us put together a personal and meaningful ceremony.
The Creative Limitation Menus list limitations for structuring improvised pieces. The challenge is to create interesting music within a narrow set of musical restrictions. Unlike a restaurant menu, you are free to change menu items and add your own.
In Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art, Stephen Nachmanovitch suggests, “two rules are more than enough. If we have a rule concerning harmony and another concerning rhythms, if we have a rule concerning mood and another concerning the use of silence, we don’t need any more. The unconscious has infinite repertoires of structure already; all it needs is a little external structure on which to crystallize.”
The magic comes from experimenting with the musical elements that aren’t restricted. For instance, if your two limitations are “choose two pitches” and “slow pulse,” you can drastically alter the dynamics, rhythmic values, articulation, and tone color.
Three Movement Piece
Choose three sets of limitations to structure a three movement improvisation.
Think of a person, place, emotion, object, or story to serve as the theme for an improvised piece. Choose limitations that will effectively express your theme.
Choose limitations randomly.
Improvise with a drum groove from the Drumgenius mobile app. The app features 400 jazz, rock, and Latin American drum loops.
When creative writers “free write,” they write continuously without editing, judging, or censoring. Similarly, we can “free play” music. Set a timer for 5, 10, or 20 minutes and play continuously. Record your free play because you may find material to develop in future improvisations or compositions
Experiment with mood, rhythm, and/or tone color limitations to play extreme interpretations of a notated piece.
Much more in Chapter Two of Creativity Triggers for Musicians. Reserve a free digital copy.
Reflecting on our performances makes us stronger musicians and collaborators. You can ask and answer the following questions:
Listen and reflect with a detached and compassionate curiosity.
The trap of perfectionism keeps us from making the impact we seek.
Endless polishing and tinkering is one way we hide from emotional risk. We may tell ourselves that if our work is perfect, it will be immune from criticism. I know a jazz musician who has been working on his first album for over ten years because he wants it to be perfect. Insulating ourselves from risk feels safe in the moment, but it keeps our original contributions bottled up inside.
Before we let the door hit 2016 on its way out, I wanted to share the most popular Creative Music Blog articles from this year:
Download the 10 Improvisation Games for Ensembles handout.
Hope you have a peaceful and productive new year!
Self-evaluation is indispensable for making progress, but constant self-criticism can sabotage our performance on stage. I’ve struggled with this for years, and performance psychologist Dr. Noa Kageyama helps us identify and take steps toward solving this nagging problem.