“What is it to be musical? You will not be so, if your eyes are fixed on the notes with anxiety and you play your piece laboriously through; you will not be so if, supposing that someone should turn over two pages at once, you stop short and cannot proceed. But you will be so if you can almost foresee in a new piece what is to follow, or remember it in an old one--in a word, if you have music not only in your fingers, but also in your head and heart. ”—Robert Schumann,
Advice to Young Musicians
Yoga, Improving Musicianship With Mantras and Being a Gentle Giant
I had a great session of yoga today. Nikki and I started out by chiming in with the response section of this call and response chant.
Listening to and reciting “exotic” sounding melodies is an excellent way to internalize eclectic melodic patterns and syncopations. I plan on reciting the aforementioned chant every M-F. From experience, I know it will dramatically alter my composition and improvisation. If you’re interested, I think this an excellent method of sponging in the sonically esoteric.
You might ask where the spirituality actually lies in practicing yoga and reciting mantras. The truth is, it’s only there if you want to see it. I think the universe is like this. God, or spirituality or divinity or whatever is always present in everything around and within you, all of the time. It’s just a matter of where your gaze lies.
For me, my strongest method of communicating my spirituality is through music and sound. Yoga is rhythmic. Breathing is rhythmic. Repetition is musical. I believe you can find your yoga in almost anything.
After all, yoga is simply:
The yoking of mind, body and soul. What you do with the eggs after you’ve cracked em’ relies upon your own (cosmic) culinary tastes.
Yoga is helping me find myself. Right now, I’m learning how to be truer to my own being. I understand that the person I truly am is very direct and outgoing. My current struggle is balancing gentleness with forcefulness. I feel the need to be grand, but calm and grounded at the same time. I want to be a gentle giant. Today during yoga, I began to improve my poses by simply increasing my breath support. This ensured that I was moving rhythmically and utilizing the breath as opposed to pushing too hard with my body or skipping breathes when breath should be cohesive. Anyway, wish me luck! (And best of luck to you as well!)
The Trickster Guru
Musicianship: The Craft of Dedication
My name is Rachel Robichaud. My alias is ‘rockleetist’ on youtube; for those that are unfamiliar with me, I am a musician and vocalist of 20+ years with almost a decade of musical instruction in jazz and 5 years of barbershop acapella training. I play the piano, the guitar, and learning the violin. After seeing others around me post some rather interesting (and mostly negative) notes on Tumblr and varying social networks, I have typed out this oversized wall of text from the heart.
First, let me tell you a little bit about an ideal called ‘musicianship’.
Music is an audible artform that delivers itself in many platforms; instrumentation, vocal, percussion, and tempo. Music has been described as the universal language of the world as so many cultures have their own regional style and unique sound pattern. Though tastes in genre vary from individual to individual, it’s often forgotten that the creation and perfection of music is not instantaneous on the first attempt. Learning to sing or play an instrument takes heart, dedication, and a willingness to understand constructive criticism— and depending on the chosen platform, physical endurance. This is Musicianship.
I recall years in a wing of the fine arts school I attended during my high school education, standing and staring at a wall for 10 minutes while doing nothing more than breathing syllables and hissing consonants to practice technique. I still carry memories of performing the same etude repeatedly for 6 months with two instructors at my side pointing both imperfections and phrases where I would sing a line flawlessly. I remember long nights of lozenges and cough syrups when my vocal chords would become overworked and sore, cursing the day when I’d practiced myself for 14 hours straight and only sleep for 3 before waking up in a hotel to travel again. To this day I look back on these instances and would never change a single minute of them because they showed both my dedication and respect for my craft. To most, that seems overdone or unnecessary; perhaps you would call it too much work. I’d easily call anything less as not applying yourself.
Every note that you sing is a chance to improve on your own skill and ability. Every bow drawn or finger plucked across a set of strings is another forward movement to personal success. The key to all goals is practice and proper exercise. Any musician without the discipline to better themselves cannot and will not truly be labeled as a musician.
Though I have been singing and working with music for over 20 years now, I will always consider myself a student of the arts and never a master. In this way, my mind stays open to the possibilities of others and the what may influence me from the critiques of the world around me, rather than shut it out and believe I have hit my best and there is no where else to go. An attitude that isn’t humble will only reflect on how others perceive you; most times it will be negative.
Because you don’t succeed on the first attempt doesn’t mean you’re bad; it means you’re inexperienced. Believe it or not, there is a very large difference. Musicians know this difference; the general public may not always see it. The worst thing you can do is blame something for your inaccuracies; “the mic is bad”, “I had a cold”, etc. Never make excuses or speak negatively about yourself because you want to hear someone say that you’re good. That’s basic psychology.
“This sweater makes me look fat”, is a fishing comment hoping to have someone say, “no, that looks great on you!” Fact is, if you’re trying your best, you know what you’re capable of. Everything you need to see yourself in a positive light— in a good manner— starts inside of you. You just need to know where to find it. Don’t say that you suck; it goes against every ideal that is musicianship.
Now, I’m not saying that every day you’ll wake up with the worst singing voice of your life and have to pretend in every video description and upload that you are the princess of positive. Everyone has their bad days; even me. Many days I’ve woken up, looking like a truck hit me, make-up smeared over my face because I was too tired to wash it off after practicing, and couldn’t hit a note even if I tried— but that’s no reason to tell the world how much you suck— musicianship is about the respect of your craft— and yourself. What is easy, is not always right and getting to the correct path may make you feel unhappy sometimes; but take care in what you post and how your followers/subscribers perceive it. Nobody wants to listen to a perpetual complainer or downer. Learning from mistakes is a crucial key to improving in musical skill.
Though my text post here has been long, I hope it has been influential to some degree and inspired yourself and other singers/musicians to continue to grow and have the dedication and respect to practice their craft— to appreciate what hard work, time spent bandaging callouses, and hoarse throats mean to those that listen— but more importantly what it means to you.
Never forget what musicianship is or what it means— and how it reflects on you in the public profile.
Good luck and keep positive,
Morning at my boyfriend’s house. After some yummy morning sex and a shower, we go upstairs where the sounds of his mother’s fiddle practice leak through the practice-room door. His mother, a professional harpist, only began to play the fiddle within the past few months. My boyfriend and his brother exchange comments about her playing: though still not beautiful to listen to, she has improved much. I found this to be very encouraging to me.
I do not have truly active musicians in my immediate family. My sister, who is almost 22 and does not have creative hobbies, has expressed over the years the desire to play certain instruments. Most recently, she told me that of any orchestral instrument, she would prefer to pick up the clarinet. Knowing that her college has music lessons open to non-music major students, I asked why not she take clarinet lessons? But she did not have an inclination to do so.
“I don’t have the time,” she said, “and what good would I be now? What could I achieve with it?”
This is a sentiment I understand. Though the ukulele has given me hope, I would love to learn flute, among other things, but don’t know if I can stomach the aggravation of finding myself a beginner at so “late” a stage in my life. Instrumentalists have typically always played from a relatively young age so it’s not difficult to understand being discouraged looking back at the years that could have been spent learning.
And yet, at the age of 45, my musical boyfriend’s accomplished musician mother still has the hunger to learn more, attain more skills, and grow. She is not discouraged. Seeing that makes me realize that it’s silly to act as though the opportunity to broaden one’s skills peaks so early in what is bound to be a long life. How depressing to think that you achieve all you ever will by the time you’re in your twenties! Isn’t it so much nicer to know that you can spend your whole life improving upon yourself? Because you can!