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Map Out Your Practice like a Workout

Map Out Your Practice like a Workout

by Linda Ratcliff

Map out your practice session out like a workout.
When athletes are getting ready to go for a run, they usually warm up first with some stretches to loosen their muscles. Then they walk for 3-5 minutes, gradually working up to a brisk walk, then jogging, and finally breaking out into a full-steam-ahead run. As they end their run and the workout, most athletes cool down by walking briskly at first and then slower, and finally ending with a few more stretches.

For musicians, a pretty common scenario is to start with scales as a warm-up. I like to start with arpeggios up and down my hammered dulcimer. These exercises serve to loosen up your muscles and get your brain thinking about technique. Next you should move on to the “working” part of your practice time, where you plug away at new tunes. Finally it’s fun to cool down by revisiting some old favorite tunes that you already know well.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask Steve or myself.

 

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Find Somewhere Quiet

Find Somewhere Quiet

by Linda Ratcliff

It is in that quiet place at our center that we hear the whispers of our soul.
– Sue Krebs


Find somewhere quiet. This almost seems too obvious to really need to say. But it’s important.  Many of you probably have a special room, or your own corner of the living room for practicing your dulcimer. When you have a designated quiet place to practice, you will be less likely to cave in to distractions.

In addition, going to your special practice area helps prepare you mentally for getting something accomplished on your dulcimer. When preparing to perform, mindful intention at practice time is paramount, and having the ritual of going to the same place every time can help set that intention.

This is my quiet place in the RV.  Right now I’m facing a forest owned by the Corps of Engineers, and it is refreshing to look out at the beauty.  But soon my view will change, when we move to Tennessee.  I’ve Photoshopped what my view will be out the same window at sunset.  Either view is peaceful and inspiring.

Notice, my dog is always with me when I practice.  But I would rather be “home alone” without any humans around when I practice. This probably goes back to my childhood, because my father always asked me to hold off on practicing until he got out of the house. He would find something to do in his workshop when I wanted to practice the piano. Understanding this, my husband is very good about finding something to do outside when I practice.

Do you have a quiet place to practice? Is it a space where you can keep your instruments and all your accessories within easy reach?  If not, look over your home and carve one out.  If I can make a space for music in an RV that has less than 400 square feet, you can find a place too.

As always, if you have any questions, always feel free to ask Steve or myself.
Happy dulcimering,
Linda
 

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Trust Your Practice

Trust Your Practice

by Steve Eulberg

While at Camp Kiya at Tehachapi Mountain Park, Steve records the following tip for Habits for Your Healthy Music Habitat.

This is part of a weekly email video benefit that our Premium Members at DulcimerCrossing receive.  Subscribe and you can receive it, too!

 

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“I Have to Practice every day…

“I Have to Practice every day…

by Linda Ratcliff

…to play as bad as I do.    —Woody Allen

Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg) is a passionate fan of jazz, and jazz music has often been featured prominently in the soundtracks of his movies. He started playing the clarinet when he was a teenager and actually chose his stage name, Woody, after the famous clarinet player Woody Herman.

Woody will be 81 in December, and these days he is performing with the Eddy David New Orleans Jazz Band.  They play every Monday night at the Carlyle Hotel.


What made me take a closer look at Woody was a quote by him about his own playing: “I have to practice every day to play as bad as I do.” I love his statement because it mirrors the way I feel about my own playing.We all need to practice – and not just to prepare for the next jam session or performance.

Practicing an instrument sharpens your brain, increases your eye-hand coordination, teaches you perseverance, and creates a sense of achievement when you overcome the challenge of learning a new tune.
I’ve also discovered a lot about the history of our country and its musicians by researching the stories behind those old fiddle tunes dulcimer players enjoy.
 (This post originally appeared in the DulcimerCrossing Newsletter.  You can subscribe here)
 

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Habits From The Muse

Habits From The Muse
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The Music Lesson

by Steve Eulberg

This new promised resource is now available to you here!

Habits from the Muse is a short, weekly email sent to your in-box, with ideas, suggestions and tidbits we’ve collected to help support your daily practice of music.

We all know that habits come from repetition and that habits, once set, are hard to break.

Our intention is to help you set some good habits in place, habits to help you make progress toward your musical goals!

Sign up here (We don’t share your email!) and get supported today!

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2016 in lessons, subscriber news, uncategorized

 

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Erin Mae Lewis’ 30 Minute Practice Session Strategy

Erin Mae Lewis’ 30 Minute Practice Session Strategy

Here is a question that all of our instructors hear often:  How should I practice?

Erin Mae Lewis (formerly Erin Rogers) gives us insights and her suggestions in this lesson in the Mountain Dulcimer Skills section of our website

Take a look at a preview below:

Subscribe to DulcimerCrossing.com to see the rest of the lesson!

 
 

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Practicing in the Dark

Practicing in the Dark

by Linda Ratcliff

I’m spending the winter in sunny California, but I know many of you have been getting hit with some pretty cold weather. Brrrr.

That reminds me of the way I used to practice piano.

I usually arrived at school, during both my high school and college years, at about 6:30 in the morning, and I always went straight to the practice rooms. Now the school didn’t turn on the heaters full blast until about 7:30 a.m., so to challenge myself (and because no one was looking), I would start with my finger exercises – in the dark and wearing gloves.

That style of practice actually greatly increased my accuracy. After all, by the time you can play arpeggios correctly with gloves on – you’ve pretty well mastered that skill.

I applied the same system to my hammered dulcimer practicing – by working in the dark in the evenings. When I do this, I am working on muscle memory. I want my hands and arms to know the distance from one string to the next, one bridge to another, without looking. I don’t know if Steve has this problem, but when I set up in a new location to perform – the lighting always bothers me. I simply can’t see my strings the way I do at home. So learning to play in the dark has enabled me to not be so dependent on visual clues. And it has increased my confidence in playing for others.

What do you think? Could mountain dulcimer players also benefit from muscle memory practice in the dark? Have you ever tried it?

Tell Steve or myself what you think, and we’ll let everyone else know in the next newsletter.

(This post was originally an article in the DulcimerCrossing Subscriber Newsletter)

 

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