Great things are always happening here at Morris Music Academy. Check out India and Kiera as they are learning a piece for our upcoming spring recital. Kiera is currently studying voice with Lamar Boyde and India is studying guitar with Taylor Roberts. India also teaches here at the studio. If you like what you see and hear, be sure to visit us at Morris Music Academy or give us a call at (904) 853-5049. We’d love you have you join us!
While taking music lessons, learning how to play a new instrument or learning new music at can be A LOT of fun, doing what all musicians need to do in order to improve can be a bit frustrating. Practicing can be tough if we don’t have a plan of action. Familiar questions can rear their heads if we are not careful:
How do I practice? What do I practice? Where do I practice? How long do I practice? And the list goes on…
Here are a few tips that will help improve your music practice sessions and help make your practice experience much more enjoyable.
1. Find a quiet place. You’ll want to eliminate as many distractions as possible when practicing. Having the television on, siblings playing games, pets playing and jumping on you…not a good idea. Being able to practice in an appropriate environment that is free of distractions will go a long way in helping you focus on the tasks at hand as you strive to become a better musician.
2. Be prepared. You’d think this goes without saying, right? Wrong. One of the fastest ways to derail practicing efforts is also one of the most common: Having to waste time looking for music, your metronome, reeds, etc. Always have all of the materials you need close at hand. Being fully prepared will help maintain your focus and save tons of time in the long-run.
3. Set goals. Don’t fall into the trap of practicing with no real plan, or with no goals in mind. You should always have an idea of what you want to accomplish during your practice sessions…and be as specific as possible. Doing so with help narrow your scope and help you accomplish more with great success.
4. Practice smarter…not longer. Marathon practice sessions aren’t necessarily more beneficial than shorter ones. The key is really being able to practice with focused intent. 45 minutes of focused practice may be more beneficial than 3-hour, unfocused, meandering, everlasting sessions….during which you could actually accomplish very little.
5. Always warm up…and cool down. Think of your practice sessions as you would a gym workout. In order prepare yourself to properly tackle the rigors of practice and even to avoid strain or injury, it is always a good idea to warm-up…regardless of instrument. Whether you’re doing long tones or lip trills, properly warming up before you practice can be one of your keys to practicing success.
6. Make practice more of a challenge. Sure. You can make yourself feel good and spend your practice session blazing through selections or pieces you already know quite well. Is that going to help you? Nope…not as much as you think. You probably should be using your practice time to work on things you are not playing well. Challenge yourself and diligently practice things that are difficult for you. It may not sound pretty while you’re working on these things. But hey…that what practicing is all about.
7. Don’t stop when you think you “have it”. I’m not sure who said it first, but my high school band director used to always tell us, “Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.” This is a fantastic piece of advice. Always practice until you can play the passage you are working on consistently and correctly with no errors…many times. If you’re still making mistakes…you don’t know it yet. Break it down. Slow it down. Work it out.
With a bit of planning and by following these super awesome tips, you’re sure to have more success in your practice sessions. If you have more questions about practicing or anything else, head over to our contact page and ask away. Now…go practice!
You already know we think learning to play an instrument is awesome. But did you know your brain thinks so too? Turns out, playing an instrument gives your brain quite a workout. Take a look at this TED-Ed lesson by Anita Collins to learn more. Then let’s work on exercising your brain…register for lessons at Morris Music Academy.
A native of Gainesville, Florida, Taylor Roberts is one of the great rising stars in today’s jazz world. Just completing a brand new solo guitar album entitled “Short Story”, Taylor’s ability as a soloist or in a group is unmatched. His influences are vast and his playing echoes the greats such as Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, BB King and more. Taylor is young, but his talent has already allowed him to share the stage with such jazz giants as Sean Jones, Bucky Pizzarelli, Gary Foster, Toscha Comeaux, Jimmy Bruno, and Ali Jackson. Performances at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, The Gainesville Jazz Festival, the Ritz Theater, the O’Connell Center and many other venues in the Southeastern US have all gained him great recognition.
Taylor studied Jazz Guitar at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville and now stays busy touring and teaching privately.
Ray Callender was born in Winfield, Illinois. The son of Charles Callender, a Chicago trumpeter and craftsman at Schilke Music Products, his love for the instrument began at an early age. However, his love for the music didn’t develop until early high school, sparked by a double-sided tape of Kind of Blue and Jazz at Massey Hall . He was hooked. Callender began to study the masters, especially Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, and Woody Shaw, and his diligence earned him numerous honors while still in high school, including “Best Soloist” at the Chicago Area Jazz Festival, “Outstanding Soloist” at the Rolling Meadows Jazz Festival, and the 1996 Louis Armstrong Jazz Award. Callender graduated Cum Laude from the University of North Florida jazz program where he studied with legendary alto saxophonist Bunky Green. He performed with and composed for the top jazz ensemble and combo and was the featured trumpet soloist on UNF’s Down Beat award-winning albums, Things To Come, Second Thoughts, and Through His Eyes, as well as recording with notable pianist/educator Dr. Keith Javors on his 2004 Zoho Records release, Mo’ City Jungle.
In 2003, after winning an audition amongst thousands of emerging jazz artists from all around the globe, Callender was selected by jazz legend Curtis Fuller as a “Jazz Star of Tomorrow.” As a result, he performed in Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead Program at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. where he worked with esteemed artists including Fuller, Winard Harper , Carmen Lundy , Jimmy Owens, and John Clayton. He was also one of only four trumpeters nationwide selected to attend a summer residency at the Steans Institute Program for Jazz at Ravinia, where he had the opportunity to work with such venerable mentors as Dr. David Baker, James Moody, Rufus Reid, Danilo Perez, and Nathan Davis as well as perform with up and coming players like Aaron Parks, Kim Thompson, and Maurice Brown. In addition, he was recognized twice by Down Beat magazine for Best Collegiate Jazz Combo (2002-2003).
Callender has performed in concert with such artists as Dave Brubeck, Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Jon Faddis, James Moody, Antonio Hart, Benny Green, Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Billy Childs, Pat Martino, Maurice Hines, Eddie Palmieri, Conrad Herwig, Dennis Mackrel, Percy Heath, Doug Carn, Steve Nelson, John Lee, Billy Kilson, Ignacio Berroa, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Bobby Shew, the Ritz Jazz Orchestra, the St. Johns River City Band, Bruce Paulson, and Bob Mintzer. Groups featuring Callender have performed at such venues as the Montreux Jazz Festival, the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Vienne Jazz Festival, the Savannah Jazz Festival, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, the Rockefeller Center’s Rainbow Room, Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase, the Velvet Lounge, the International Association of Jazz Educators conference, the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, and the Notre Dame Jazz Festival. Callender has held faculty positions at Florida State College and Duval County Public Schools and currently teaches at numerous private schools as well as performing regularly throughout the Southeast.