Ben Senterfit / Blog

Raphael on the Mic!

My oldest son Raphael just turned four. This is the first we've gotten him on the microphone, hope there is much more to come. Check it out!

Raphael on the Microphone: http://www.sleepingbrotherhood.com//Ben%27s%20tunez/masters/raphaelonthemic.mp3

Ranting about music: Practice tips

I am going to rant a bit about the importance of working from both sides of your brain. While many people think of music as a right brained endeavor (the so-called creative/intuitive side) studies have shown that we use both sides of our brain when playing music and that our ability to work seamlessly across that bridge (the Corpus callosum) is what gives entry to that sought after place we call "the Zone" or being "in the flow". To reach this point it is essential to exercise your brain on both sides. While many people don't relish the idea of practicing scales or rudiments, this is one way to develop the more linear, logical, left side of our brain. Moreover, for logical thinkers, the idea of picking up the instrument and improvising freely over a scale can be a very intimidating practice. Here are a few techniques I have developed for getting the most out of your practice time.

* Practice you weakness. This sounds stupid to say but the truth is, we tend to practice what we already know. The first thing to do is to ask yourself what your tendencies are. If you are prone to improvising but scared of disciplined practice, set up a regime where you practice your fundamentals first and reward yourself with time at the end to cut loose. Likewise, if you are a structured, linear practicer, begin every practice by closing your eyes, and simply playing what comes off the top of you head before returning to your regimen. * Don't cram your practicing. This is one I'm still bad at. Practicing for 15 minutes, twice a day will yield more results than practicing for 2 hours twice a week. It is the time after we practice that our brains do the work of retaining information. Studies have shown that practicing for short intervals a number times in a day will accelerate retention. Try setting your goals for the week and practicing for a short time in the morning and then again in the evening. We can only absorb so much information before it starts falling out onto the floor. * Set clear goals. This is where taking lessons can be very helpful. An instructor can help you make good decisions about what you should be working on and help you set clear and achievable goals. * Practice as a meditation. Try and consider your practice time as the one time in the day that you are not thinking about other things in your life. Even professional musicians spend a majority of their time working on things other than playing music, and often they reach a certain point and stop working on developing their skills. That time in the day when you retreat to another room and practice is really a time to let the day wash over you and let go. Think of it as a hot shower for your soul.

I hope you find these musings on this subject helpful. Please let me know your thoughts and reflections anytime.