Monday, September 8, 2014

Practice Habits for Music Students

Carnegie Hall, New York
An classic joke goes like this:  a tourist stops a native New Yorker on the street and asks, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?"  The New Yorker answers "Practice.  Practice."

In his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell estimates that it takes 10,000 hours of practice time to achieve mastery.  If you practice two hours per day, it will take you about fourteen years to reach that mark.  At four hours per day, that's just under seven years.
But of course there's more to it than that.  How you practice is as important as how much you practice.  If you merely repeat a half-baked piece you're just "practicing your mistakes."   Even worse, you could be forming intractable bad habits that could hurt your technique and your body.   Time spent reinforcing bad habits is time wasted.

How can you improve your habits?  First, you need to understand what habits are and how they work.  The New York Times best-seller, The Power of Habit: Why we do What we do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg (BF335 .D775 2012 ) explains how cues and rewards work to establish new habits... and why old habits are so hard to extinguish.

The library also has several books for musicians.  For tips on making the most of your practice time, check out these books in the "Practicing (Music)" subject:

The Musician's Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness, by Gerald Klickstein
MT 75 .K74 2009

Practicing Successfully: A Masterclass in the Musical Art, by Elizabeth Green
ML3838 .G743 2006

Practicing for Artistic Success: The Musician's Guide to Self-Empowerment, by Burton Kaplan
MT170 .K37 2004

The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart, by Madeline Bruser
ML 3838 .B78 1999

Books on Sport Psychology may also be of interest, such as Clinical Sport Psychology, by Frank Gardner and Zella Moore.  (GV706.4 .G35 2006)  Training, mastery, and performance issues are common to sports as well as the performing arts.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Horace Silver, 1928 - 2014

Jazz pianist Horace Silver died this week at the age of 85. During his long career he established himself as one of the masters of jazz piano in the bebop style, specifically the "hard bop" style. He recorded for Blue Note Records, one of the premier jazz labels.

Horace Silver's official site:

Compact Discs
Horace Silver
Tracks from sessions during the 1950s and 1960s
Compact Disc 21173

Song for my Father, the Horace Silver Quartet (1963-1964)
Compact Disc 13855

Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers
A classic album from 1954 and 1955, with Art Blakey on drums
Compact Disc 12934

Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty: The Autobiography of Horace Silver
ML 417 .S64 A3 2006

Score/CD play-along
For You to Play: Horace Silver, Eight Jazz Classics (Jamey Aebersold series No. 17)
MT 68 .J36 v. 17 leadsheets
Compact DIsc 20808 v. 17 CD of backing tracks
Shoutin' out! The Music of Horace Silver (Jamey Aebersold series No. 86)
MT 68 .J36 v. 86 leadsheets
Compact DIsc 20808 v. 86 CD of backing tracks 
Horace Silver article in the Encyclopedia of Popular Music: (Includes extensive discography) 
Horace Silver article in the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz:

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Jewish American Heritage Month

May is Jewish American Heritage Month.  While Jewish composers of Broadway and classical music are rather well known, there are also many musicians of popular and rock music who are at least partly of Jewish heritage (though some do not practice the Jewish religion):

Paula Abdul
Herb Alpert
Herb Alpert

Bangles: Susanna Hoffs
Barenaked Ladies: Steven Page
The Beastie Boys: Adam Yauch
Blondie: Chris Stein, guitar
Michael Bolton
The Doors: Robby Krieger, guitar & songwriter
Bob Dylan
Maroon 5: Adam Levine
The Ramones: Joey Ramone (originally Jeffry Hyman)
Carly Simon
Paul Simon
Steely Dan: Donald Fagen, Walter BeckerBarbra Streisand
Van Halen: David Lee Roth

For more information about Jewish music and musicians, click below to find books on
Jews -- Music History and Criticism

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jazz Appreciation Month

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, designated by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History:

Jazz got its start about a hundred years ago and quickly became America's national musical style, characterized by improvisation and a "swinging" rhythm.

It defined the 1920s high-living culture, a.k.a. "The Jazz Age," saw the country through a Depression and World War 2, spurred thoughtful innovation in the 1950s and 1960s, and blended with rock music and other styles after that.

During this month, special events around the country help spread awareness of this ever-evolving yet classic genre.  The Music Collection has books, scores, and recordings, and the Educational Resources collection has DVDs of live performances.  Click the links below to investigate library holdings.

Search Books Search Scores Search Articles Search Recordings Search DVDs

For an overview, listen to Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology (Compact Disc 20660)

You can search by era using the Media Finder for Music (Other than Classical).  Simply select jazz and pull-down for the decade:

Friday, March 21, 2014

March 24: World Tuberculosis Day

Luigi Boccherini
March 24, 2014 is World Tuberculosis Day, Tuberculosis is not the scourge it used to be, but it is still a worldwide health threat.  According to the United States' Center for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 10,000 cases of TB were diagnosed in 2012 in the United States, 100 of them in Indiana.

Tuberculosis has cut short the lives of many creative people, and profoundly influenced others. You may not even realize it when you read biographies because the word "consumption" is often used. Left untreated it kills up to half of its victims, but in the Twentieth Century treatment became more reliable and available.

These are some musicians who contracted TB:

    Frédéric Chopin
  • Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805),  Cellist and composer.
  • Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849),  Pianist and composer.
  • Charlie Christian (1916-1942), jazz guitarist. 
  • Johann Gottleib Goldberg (1727-1756), of "Goldberg" variations fame.
  • Yusuf Islam (a.k.a. Cat Stevens, b. 1948), singer-songwriter.  His bout with TB in 1969 was a pivotal experience in his life
  • Tom Jones (1940- ), pop singer.  He had TB as a child and spent two years recovering, listening to music.
  • Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
  • Vasily Kalinnikov (1866-1901), Russian symphony composer
  • Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710–1736), opera composer. He finished his Stabat Mater composition just two days before his death.
  • Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933), country singer.  His best known song is "TB Blues."
  • Johann Schein (1586-1630), German composer
  • Ringo Starr  (1940 - ), contracted tuberculosis at age eleven and spent two years in a santitorium, where he learned to play drums as a form of therapy.
  • Ringo Starr
    1940 -
  • Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), modernist composer.  He survived his TB but his wife and one daughter did not.
  • Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826), opera and symphonic composer

For more information about tuberculosis, check CardCat for books and government publications, and Medline for scholarly articles in English (log-in required from off-campus).

Monday, March 17, 2014

Women in Music: Composers of Classical Music

For centuries, the music profession was almost entirely a man's world. Women could perform or compose as amateurs (or as nuns!) but it was unseemly for a woman to work for a living in any profession, including music. For most of history only a few women left behind scores that show how a woman could equal a man in talent, and with equal opportunity thrive in music.

Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) was given to a convent as a child by her family, became a nun, and eventually became the leader of a convent. She was known in her time as a healer, artist, theologian and musician. Due possibly to migraines, she had visions that led to insights and artwork. Her works are all in Latin, with theological themes, and sometimes also liturgical purposes (i.e., meant for performance during worship) because her entire life was spent within the confines of convent life. Her most famous work, Ordo Virtutum, is one of the first known plays with music. She was canonized after her death, and her feast day is September 17.

For more about Hildegard, check out these from Bracken Library

Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen DVD Video 11071, Educational Resources

Ordo Virtutum DVD Video 7667, Educational Resources

Hildegard von Bingen: The Woman of her Age BX 4700 .H5 M33 2001 2nd Floor, Bracken Library

Compact Discs:
A Feather on the Breath of God
Compact Disc 5711, Music Collection

The Origin of Fire: Music and Visions
Compact Disc 15515,  Music Collection

Friday, February 7, 2014

The British Invasion in Pop Music: 50 Years Ago

In 1964 The Beatles were the first big English act to cross the pond for commercial and artistic success in the huge United States teen market.  Baby boomers, children born between 1946 and 1960, had allowances to burn and wanted music they could dance to.  In the era of the 45 rpm single, young teens could buy two songs at a time, one on each side.  Usually only one side was a hit, but for The Beatles, both A-side and B-side were often hits.

Though they seemed like something new, their style was rooted in American rock and rockabilly of the 1950s, especially Chuck Berry,  Little Richard, and the girl groups of the early 1960s.  They covered the songs of these American artists when they performed Live at the BBC and on their first album, With the Beatles (1963).

With a hit song filling American airwaves, the Beatles arrived to throngs of eager fans on February 7, 1964.  The rest of the country would greet the four boys from Liverpool on February 9, 1964, when they appeared on  The Ed Sullivan Show, an influential weekly variety television show.  Girls who knew the Beatles' songs screamed and swooned, a reaction they would encounter everywhere they went for the next year or two.

The Beatles were followed by other groups from England, including  The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and The Animals.  Since then the two countries have enjoyed a mutual fandom in popular music.

For more about the Beatles and the British Invasion, check out these books, CDs, and DVDs from the library:

A Hard Day's Night (1964 film)
DVD Video 493

The Beatles Anthology (documentary)
DVD Video 386

Beatlemania: Technology, Business and Teen Culture in Cold War America
ML 421 .B4 M55 2012

Beatlemania! The Real Story of the Beatles UK Tours, 1963-1965
ML 421 .B4 C74 2010

Mods Rockers, and the Music of the British Invasion
ML 3534.6.G7 P47 2009

Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America
ML 421 .B4 G68 2007

Meet the Beatles: A Cultural History of the Band that Rocked America
ML 421 .B4 S 68 2005

The Beatle Myth: The British Invasion of American Popular Music
ML 3534 .K44 1991

Beatles '64: A Hard Day's Night in America
ML 421 .B4 R39 1989

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger, folklorist,banjo player, activist and singer-songwriter, died this week at the age of 94.  With Woody Guthrie, he ushered in the Folk Revival movement.  His songs with The Weavers became commercial hits, but he's perhaps best known for the civil rights song, We Shall Overcome, which he adapted from an old folk song.   He leaves behind a wealth of iconic American songs, as well as some world songs that have become American staples.  He also helped promote the careers of other folk revival singers, including Bob Dylan.

Folk Music Revival (1940s - 1950s)
Seeger and his group, the Almanac Singers, sang songs for the labor movement of the 1940s.   After that he sang with The Weavers (1948-1958).  These are some of the most famous songs popularized by the two groups:
  • Aunt Rhodie
  • Goodnight, Irene (originally by blues singer Lead Belly)
  • If I had a Hammer
  • Kisses Sweeter than Wine
  • Kumbaya
  • Michael, Row the Boat Ashore
  • On Top of Old Smoky
  • Sloop John B
  • So Long (It's been good to know you)
  • Wimoweh
Solo Career
Seeger was targeted by the McCarthy era House Unamerican Activities committee, making participation with the Weavers impossible, so he set out on his own.  His 1960 concert at Bowdoin College in Maine was recorded by the campus radio station and represents his wide-ranging interests in folk song.  He continued to celebrate American working people, in his American Industrial Ballads album (1957), one of many he recorded for the Folkways label.

Civil Rights & Peace Songs
Seeger was active in social causes throughout his life, and composed or adapted songs that became synonymous with those causes.  He participated in the Civil Rights movement, the peace movement of the 1960s, protesting the Vietnam War, and ecological causes.
  • We Shall Overcome:  Seeger's adaptation of an old folk song became the anthem of the 1950s and 1960s Civil Rights movement.
  • If I had a Hammer is one of the peace songs of the 1940s that became popular again during the 1960s protests against the Vietnam War.
  • Blowing in the Wind:  The folk trio, Peter, Paul and Mary recorded this song.
  • Turn, Turn, Turn:  The Byrds famously covered this song that Seeger fashioned from verses from the Bible (Ecclasiastes).  The song expresses hope for a time of peace.
  • Where Have All the Flowers Gone?  This anti-war song was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary and Seeger himself
  • Waist Deep in the Big Muddy:  Seeger sang this song twice on the Smothers Brothers television show.  Network censorship of the song the first time backfired, leading to the second performance.
  • Folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary popularized these and other songs by Seeger
  • Bruce Springsteen is one of many artists who admires Seeger and his songs.  He recorded an album of Seeger's songs:  We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.
Learn more about Pete Seeger, the folk music renaissance of the mid-20th century, and protest music:

Pete Seeger: The Power of Song  (PBS American Masters, 2007)
DVD Video 4305
Compact Disc 19166

Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger
Compact Disc 11227

Washington Square Memoirs: The Great Urban Folk Boom, 1950-1970
Compact Disc 11082

Pete Seeger: The Complete Bowdoin College Concert (1960)
Compact Disc 21051

Songs of Struggle and Protest, 1930-1950
Compact Disc 8065

Many songs by Seeger and others in the Folk Music revival movement were published in Sing Out magazine.

Books & Songbooks by Pete Seeger:

Everybody Says Freedom, by Pete Seeger
ML 3550 .S43 1989

Carry it on! A History in Song and Picture of the Working Men and Women of America
M1977 .L3 C33 1985

How to Play the 5-String Banjo: A Manual for Beginners
MT 560 .S55 H6 1962

The Incompleat Folksinger
ML 60. S444 I5

Monday, January 27, 2014

Grammy Winners in the Music Collection

Last night's Grammy Awards showcased old and new talent.  If you aren't familiar with them, the Music Collection has CDs to help you get acquainted (links go to library catalog listings):

Some great performers of earlier generations sang with modern stars:
Chicago performed with Robin Thicke

Willie Nelson performed with Blake Shelton (among others)

Carly Simon performed with Sara Bareilles

Stevie Wonder sang with Daft Punk

Metallica performed with classical pianist Lang Lang

... and partnered up with each other:
Aerosmith's Steven Tyler sang a few lines a Smokey Robinson song as they were about to present an award

The Beatles' Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr sang together.

The big winners

This year's winners include:
    Daft Punk:  Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Best pop duo/group performance, Best Dance/electronica album, Best engineered album (Random Access Memories)

    Lorde: Song of the Year

    Macklemore & Lewis:  Best new artist, Best rap performance, best rap song, best rap album (The Heist)

    Bruno Mars:  Best Pop Vocal Album (Unorthodox Jukebox)

    Zedd:  Best Dance Recording
    Michael Bublé: Best traditional pop vocal album (To Be Loved)

    Imagine Dragons: Best rock performance

    Led Zeppelin:  Best rock album (Celebration Day)

    Black Sabbath:  Best metal performance (13)

    Rihanna: Best urban contemporary album (Unapologetic)

    Justin Timberlake:  Best R&B Song, Best rap/sung collaboration (with Jay Z), Best music video

    Alicia Keys: Best R&B Album (Girl on Fire)
    Darius Rucker:  Best country solo performance

    Civil Wars: Best country duo/group performance

    Mandisa: Best contemporary Christian album, Best contemporary Christian song

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013

    Auld Lang Syne

    The traditional New Year's Song, Auld Lang Syne, is a Scottish poem by Robert Burns (1759 - 1796) set to a folk song.  It is a song of nostalgia for the old days, and on New Year's Eve the "old days" are the days of the previous year.

    You can hear it sung by the U.S. Army Chorus via Naxos Music Library by clicking this link.  (Ball State login required)

    The Music Collection includes song books that are old enough to be out of copyright (i.e., published before 1923).  One song book includes an arrangement of this classic song - with all the original stanzas - for you to review before celebrating New Year's Eve (click to enlarge):