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When the what and the how is gone, get back to why

In a world where rehearsals are online, performances are on hold and the future is uncertain, what are our ensembles for?

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The Obstacle of Convention

How convention prevents us from becoming better teachers

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Are you creating or obeying? What I learned about conducting from theatre director David Mamet

The vast majority of our musical training is spent in pursuit of an impossible perfection. Deluged by the demands of technique, we forget the entire purpose of our art is to connect. To move people. To change people.

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Giving an A - How to Immediately Embody Who You Want to Be

If, one year from now, you were to give yourself an 'A' grade for how you showed up in life as a person, partner, conductor, teacher - who would you have become to earn it?

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Lessons with Ben Zander #1: I'm diffident?

How one conducting lesson helped me see and unravel what had been holding me back, not only as a conductor, but as a person.

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What's holding you back? How one conducting lesson changed my life

What happens when you decide to ask a life-long hero for a conducting lesson on Zoom during a pandemic? Here's the story of how I met Benjamin Zander...

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Composer Steven Bryant on Play, Creativity & Making Mistakes

3 student activities and 5 teacher PD questions from my interview with Steven Bryant

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Composer Alex Shapiro on Connection, Being in the Moment & Wellbeing

Including 5 activities for conductors and students on being in the moment, being more expressive using acting and reflecting on competition.

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Listening for Who Has the Melody

Even though we're not playing together, we can still practice listening for who has the melody in our ensemble music. Plus, how to turn this into a 5-minute score study activity.

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6 Ways to Practice & Rehearse Without Instruments

Students #stuckathome without instruments? There are still plenty of ways they can practice and improve their skills! PLUS you can use these in rehearsal when everyone's ears need a break.

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"How Fascinating!" Responding to the Unexpected

Every single day we guide musicians in how to respond to the unexpected.‍ From a wrong note, to a glitch on the podium, to a global pandemic.

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Why your ensemble is like a house plant

If we thought of our ensembles as plants, we might find it a lot easier to tend to their needs and understand our responsibilities.

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Back to rehearsals: Setting expectations and trusting in your process

Spinning your wheels because you're still in holiday mode? Frantic because you have an important performance soon? Learn three strategies to replace short term thinking with long range development that will make your ensemble better.

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Conducting Success in 2020: How to ditch old conducting habits, and make new ones

Do you have a bad conducting habit that's been annoying you for a long time? That thing that you remember once for 3 seconds when you're on the podium, then then next time you think of it is an hour later? Here's how to solve that problem, for good.

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Top Holiday Gifts for Conductors ($10-$100+)

What does every conductor wants under their tree this year? Whether someone's buying for you, or you're buying for yourself, here are my top picks for last minute conductor gifts to suit every budget.

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Four ways to recharge and reconnect to yourself and your passion

It's that time of year. We're racing to the finish line, polishing off our holiday concerts, pressing submit on reports, maybe jumping on a plane to Midwest. And let's face it, we're exhausted. We need to recharge our batteries, both musically and personally. Here are four ways you can reconnect to yourself and to great music during the holidays, to get inspired and excited for the year ahead.

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What to say when it doesn't sound great...yet

It can be hard to know what to say when it doesn't sound good, and you don't want to crush the musicians. The worst thing we can do is say it's good when it isn't.

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How to recover from a bad rehearsal

Sometimes things just don't go according to plan. We can write the best lesson objectives, have the highest hopes and the most open heart and it can still fall to pieces. Those days when nothing is working. Suddenly it's like the last five rehearsals didn't happen and you're back to square one. The musicians are restless and all the attention is anywhere but on the task at hand. How do we respond to this and come out better, rather than broken?

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Three grade 3 pieces to promote independence and creativity

So much of our job is telling players what to do and how to do it. It's so easy for us to get stuck on the podium, dictating to students every element of what and how to play. It feels good - we say something and the sound improves! Yay! But this method is actually really inefficient. What if the students could be making their own judgements about the music, adjusting in the moment and, essentially, rehearsing themselves? Sound impossible and idyllic? It's not.

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Why Can’t the Students Pick Their Own Music?

I received this question from a colleague at the end of her tether, wondering what she should tell parents who were hounding her, and students who wanted to play endless concerts of Harry Potter, Star Wars, Pharell Williams and Beyonce. "We like that music, why can’t we play it in band?"

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Why does my band look sloppy onstage?

You’re at festival with your band and as you walk onstage you wonder: why Ethan in the 3rd clarinets is shuffling his music around? why are the trombones always the last to stand for the conductor? why did the percussionist just drop something? why does Emily always wear white socks with black pants and shoes?

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