Smart music advice for creative people.

How to Make Music So That People Want to Listen

How to Make Music So That People Want to Listen

Do you believe in Steinways– legendary hand-made pianos?

Whatever type of instrument you love, there’s a way to make music so that people want to listen.

This summer, I am taking intensive ballet classes. During a break, I step into a Tom Lee music store in downtown Vancouver. I ask the saleslady to tell me about the grand pianos–because, why not?

She sits me at seven grand pianos where I play the same Un Sospiro phrase. None of these sounds repulse me anymore– although some are more favourable, nothing feels perfect.

“Come,” she says. “I want to show you the Steinway room.”

Outside, spotlights shine in the main showroom and my ballet bodysuit-shorts combo feels chilly. Inside, the Steinway room is saturated with spotlight-light.

At the first piano, a Boston, two of the keys are a smidge out of tune and most of them feel sticky with something that is, the saleslady suggests, ice cream.

Some of the pianos sound alright. I love white grand pianos, although it’s a rule that white grand pianos in display rooms sound weak.

The Steinway with the touch I like best is a wood-finished concert grand that costs 1/3rd of a small Vancouver condo. I’d rather have the condo, but this reminds me of a study I read last year.

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Creating Systems to Get More Done (Better)

Grace Miles

I’m going to share one strategy I’ve used to get more done in music, and different areas of life. This is especially effective when you’re working on a new piece of music, or teaching.

I started keeping a timesheet recently– I spend a lot of time producing blog posts that never get published.

Last week, on a mild summer’s day, I went to the Splashdown water park, in Tsawwassen.

After spending the first half hour shivering in the water slides’ lines, I knew something had to be done about the cold, as the hot tub’s water wasn’t nearly hot enough.

To fix this water slide blasphemy, my sister and I developed a system:

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6 Tips for Enjoying a Shakespeare Play (Summer Musician Edition)

Grace Miles and Christopher Gaze at Bard on the BeachI’m not an experienced play-goer. But I have a hunch that the Shakespearean society might be reinventing itself, like German opera.

In Vancouver, the classic way to see Shakespeare is by Bard on the Beach.

Meeting the producer, Christopher Gaze, was the moment it clicked that I was in for Shakespeare. The charming gentleman speaks like an actor onstage and off.

I’m not trying to convince you to thumbs-up Shakespeare– his work speaks for itself– but if you’ve decided to visit a few of his classic works, here are a few ways to get something extra from the performance.

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Ann Makosinski & Grace Miles on Public Speaking Tips

Ann Makosinski and Grace Miles

“This girl is unbelievable.”

That’s what I first thought when I discovered Ann Makosinski and her work. Plus, she can rock a stage.

As an introverted girl (and naturally on the shy side), these are skills I wish I had when starting out, before the dealing with music students’ parents and design pitches.

Today, I’m THRILLED to share this chat with Ann Makosinski. She is awesome, as in full of awe. Not only did she invent the body-heat powered flashlight at 15 years old, but she easily commands a theatre-full of people. For musicians, this skill is especially useful for teaching music classes and workshops.

In this video, we’re chatting about public speaking tips, and other big ideas, like how to be “yourself” when you don’t fit with everyone else.

The ideas for public speaking transfer to other types of performance as well, especially piano playing and teaching.

Let’s jump right in! Here are the public speaking tips that Ann goes by:

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How You Can Give Better Music Feedback

How Musicians Can Give Better Feedback We’re kind of obsessed with the “best.”

We train in the “best” schools. Chefs cook the “best” meals.

We debate about the “best” music technique.

You might recall a typical music lesson where the teacher describes the “best” way to play a phrase– light here, mezzoforte there. And the feedback is taken badly.

Or, in a music studio, if a student is constantly cancelling lessons and asking for refunds, the teacher’s first reaction might be to fold the bills into origami boats and sail them down the river.

Here’s a conversation hack that might help you give better feedback.

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The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Group Music Class

The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Group Music Class

Many people ask about starting a business, in particular, how to teach music.

In January, I met a girl who was building her business and I thought we’d cheer each other on as buddies, because my first rule to excelling in some area is finding a friend in the same space.

I shared my favourite tools and strategies with her. “Friends share their best stuff,” I thought. But every time I asked her opinion, she introduced me to her consulting service.

A few weeks ago, she emailed me:

Hey Grace,

I’m sorry but I can’t continue with our chats. I don’t have the time to check in every couple of weeks.

Best of luck with everything in your business.

How do people find best friends to grow with?

I don’t have a buddy but I’ve shaken the system up for building a business–here it is.

How to build a community of learners

All my businesses have been based on learning, with a community involved. This is no exception. I thought I’d be running design strategy consulting sessions all summer long, but it has grown beyond that.

Here’s the strategy I ran with this time:

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Looking for daily music motivation? Get it here.

Looking for music motivation? Get it here.

A buddy of mine is a Master at meditation.

I’ve never seen her do it, but I sensed dedication when she said, at the end of our design coaching session:

“I got more than I expected from you, but I wish we met somewhere suitable for meditation.”

When it comes to making important decisions, we all have ways to get in touch with our inner selves. Maybe it’s sprinting off at top speed. Playing Rachmaninoff on the piano. Popping a yoga video.

So let’s keep this simple: When in doubt, make music.

Maybe you can’t conjure a piano in a snap, but how creative can you get about making music? Tapping a beat on the table? Singing? Or maybe, making music means you’ll take 10 seconds to focus inside.

I designed a FREE matching background set for desktop and iPhone as daily motivation to stay happy, and stay free. Studies show that the more we see something, the more we believe it. So believe this– you are never truly stuck in one place.

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