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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Great new blog

It's always nice to discover a great new blog. I follow quite a few (and not all musical . . . hey, I have other interests, too!) and it's fun to find one with some fresh ideas.
J.D. Frizell is a candidate for the DMA at the University of Kentucky and Director of Fine Arts and Vocal Music at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, TN.
His blog can be found here. A recent post deals with the idea that practice does not always make perfect, using the idea of neuromuscular pathways. Here's a sample:
Musicians can benefit from them, too.  The understanding of neuromuscular pathways strongly informs my approach to teaching private voice lessons.  New students coming into my studio often are confused as to why we don't:
  • Learn a lot of new songs often
  • Learn a lot of songs they want to sing
  • Work on much more than a phrase at a time per lesson
I explain to them how neuromuscular pathways work and how, at their age, it is imperative to develop proper habits for singing, since their instrument IS their body.  It is especially important to focus on the repetitive element of building these pathways since singers often have bad habits that have been reinforced for their entire singing life! 

 This concept also applies to my ensembles, whom I often ask while sight-reading, "When does tone (or vowel shape/blend/dynamic contrast/etc.) matter?"  and they answer "Always!"
I highly recommend introducing the concept of neuromuscular pathways in your lessons or rehearsals.  To further the impression for my students, I make an analogy of the pathways being like roads.  When you practice something the first few times, you carve a dirt path.  A few more times, it becomes a gravel drive.  Months of repetition and consistency later, you'll have a paved road.  Eventually, you build superhighways with 10 lanes on each side.

 So no, practice does not make perfect.  Practice makes whatever you do within that time more engrained.  If you consistently play piano with straight fingers, you'll find it difficult to curve them appropriately in your lessons.  If you ignore intonation while practicing scales, you'll always play scalar passages out of tune. 
Explore his blog!
By the way, the best way to follow blogs (especially if you follow a fair number of them) is to use a reader. Many of us lamented Google's deciding not to support their reader, but Feedly's reader is a good replacement. You can find it here.
Up next: what can conductors/teachers learn from Coach John Wooden?

1 comment:

J.D. Frizzell said...

Hi! I just wanted everyone to know that my blog has moved here:

I have written more posts in the past few months, and would love to have you check them out, thanks!