Lots going on during the months of July and August on the website. First, I was selected as one of eight finalists in the Smart Music "Share Your Story" Contest. The winner will be chosen by online voting in September, and first prize is $2500 cash and a $500 gift certificate to J.W. Pepper! I will be sure to let everyone know when and where to vote for me!
Secondly, I joined Twitter about a week ago and am amazed at how easily I am building a following of new people interested in music and instrumental music performance! I'm contributing regular 140 character practice tips as well as lots of valuable links to my followers. If you're on Twitter, follow me @thomasjwest.
Third, I have become a Skype Prime Service Provider. Skype Prime is Skype's directory of service providers for just about any call-in service you can imagine - from homework help to psychic readings. The first call is free, and after that service providers receive a flat rate fee per minute for each call. Callers pay for calls by purchasing Skype Credit using a credit card or PayPal account. Check out my listing HERE.
Fourth, I have a Facebook Fan Page! If you use Facebook, be sure to become a fan. I send more regular updates about my website to the fan page than I do in this newsletter.
The following articles were the most widely-read on ThomasJWestMusic.com in the month of August:
Talent is a Four-Letter Word: What You and Michael Jackson Have In Common: What do you and I have in common with MJ? He loved music and performing. Our society has scared us away from our birthright to enjoy music firsthand. We have accepted a life where we experience music second-hand, performed by "talented people" in a music consumership. Why did we ever stop making music and start buying it from a supplier?... Read more
Neurology Applied: How Science is Bringing Music Instruction Back to Expressive Development: You have between your ears the most advanced processor ever seen. With the advent of MRI, CaT scans, and now PET scans, neurologists have made amazing discoveries in just how amazing the human brain really is. Their research gives us clearer and clearer pictures of how the human brain assimilates new knowledge, practices that knowledge, and is amazingly flexible and pliable in its application. Read more
A Brass Player's Primary Tool for Tone Production - the B.E.R.P.: Any brass player worth their salt knows that the instrument itself is basically a channeler and amplifier for the thing that really produces the instrument's vibration, which happens to be the human lips. A brass player spends the majority of their practice time developing control, range, flexibility, and tone quality of the brass embouchure in much the same way a vocalist works for control and ease of use of the vocal folds. Read more
iSchoolBand - a safe Facebook for the Band Room and More: At the end of June, I was invited by the developers of iSchoolBand to participate in their Alpha launch and provide some feedback. The "about" page on their website describes iSchoolBand as "social music technology" containing "a private social network, a dynamic media and document library, and several group management tools for parents, boosters, instruments, and bands." Read more
For parents of young children, a "playdate" is a scheduled meeting between two or more children while under the supervision of their parents. This is usually done for small children who can not schedule their own time and/or are not mature enough to play without supervsion. Scheduling a "practice playdate" can be a great change of pace in a normal practice routine and can even be an event to look forward to.
A practice playdate is when two or more musicians of similar ability schedule a time to get together and help eachother. There are many benefits to such a session: friendly competition, working on ensemble playing skills, practicing improvisational skills, and more.
The following are just a few examples of effective activites for a practice playdate (or practice session, or jam session, whatever you prefer to call it):
Practicing with a friend or friends can be a great motivator, a mutually beneficial arrangement, and a heck of a lot of fun. Using playdates as a motivator works well too. Having that meeting to look forward to or work towards can make regular practicing more effective. Besides, there's nothing like being social and sharing experiences with fellow musicians.
Until next time,
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