How to Find Your Passions in Music

What I’ve learned from writing a blog is that I love it. It’s hard to build an accurate picture of my life, though.

In the next little bit, we’ll be talking about putting yourself out there and being able to perform your music, so what better way to start that off by putting myself on the spot?

I get a lot of questions asking, “How do you find your passion?” and “What if I’m not good enough at music?“, so here are some guidelines below that helped me along the way!

 

Be open to possibilities without expecting anything in return.

Do you like Beethoven? Do you feel like you might be good at jazz? Perhaps you might like to perform? Try it, so that you don’t ever look back thinking, “what if I would’ve been good at XYZ?”

Don’t make a bucket list, but instead, create an explore list. A list of things you would like to try, of music you would like to play. I’m against bucket lists because they assume these tasks are a zero-sum game, that you’re done when you’re done.

They’re good for once-in-a-lifetime tasks like skydiving, but not very accurate when it comes to our real lives. But on an explore list, you’re allowed to explore each item in-depth even after you first attempt it. You’re also allowed to try a few things at once.

I tried everything, and I think I got lucky.

I first discovered how to make useful digital products from scratch when I got hired by Microsoft to make software as a UX designer. I love to make stuff, and draw.

To give you a concrete example:

How did the phone or computer or tablet you’re reading this on come about?

Someone had to draw what the product looks like and design how it’s used, and pass it onto an engineer to code and test the product before it plops into your hands.

Someone had to compose the sound effect that it makes when it starts and someone had to code it into the start function.

Microsoft was my first peek into how satisfying it was to see a real person using something I’ve created.

Sometimes you’ll get lucky and stumble upon doing something you really enjoy.

Microsoft Team

 

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Favourite Beautiful Christmas Piano Solos & Sheet Music

Christmas Piano Sheet Music

It’s the time to celebrate the holidays!

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, there’s no denying how modern music has been influenced by religious themes over the past few hundred years.

… and there’s nothing wrong with spreading a little more holiday cheer, is there? (Though I must note that I am not religious)

I’ve put together some of my favourite Christmas music and solos that I’m obsessed with this month. I’ll be picking up some of these Christmas solos to play soon.

Two of the videos below are my own playing.

If there’s a collection of music you’d like to see in the future, feel free to leave a comment below.

Enjoy!

 

Joy to the World – arranged by James Koerts

This is me playing the piece. I found it in a pile of sheet music and I spontaneously recorded the playing.

I do realize the video ends at a weird time, and that’s my smart little finger cutting it off when I uploaded it. But I really do like this piece!

Get the sheet music here

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Using Alexander Technique to Improve Piano Posture?

Hi Artiden friends! I ran the Alexander technique (mini) experiment last week, where I incorporated the principles into my daily life and my practice sessions.

The Alexander technique is a way to release tension to improve posture, alignment, and movement.

What did I do, and how did it go?

Watch the video below to find out!

To clarify, there were 500 patients in the study cited in the video. Here’s the Alexander Technique study published in the British Medical Journal (researchers from University of Southampton, University of Bristol)

This article may be a useful starting point for learning more about the Alexander technique.

If you’re interested in the actual experiment details, I’ve included them below.

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Let’s Chat About Music! Artiden’s November Hangout

Nov 17th 2018 Update: Thanks to everyone who joined in. Please use the timestamps below to skip ahead. I started the streaming early so that people who joined in didn’t have to refresh.

Resources

This is the Hanon book I use to train my fingers.

Here’s the Christmas music I was playing by Carsten Gerlitz. Here are other Christmas pieces I’m obsessed with this month!

A lot of people found last month’s community hang out useful and/or interesting so we’re trying it again this month. For half an hour, I will be hosting a get-to-know-me/ piano Q&A/ jam session.

I’m planning on putting together a list of said Q’s from everyone, so if you have any, ask away! Or better yet, get in touch beforehand so your questions get first dibs!

Leave a question as a comment below, or follow me on social media and message me. Oh and if you have instagram or twitter, give us a shout under #artidenhangout! I’ll check everything right before we go live :)

Here’s my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

After the Q&A is the proposed jam session, and I’ll be addressing live audience requests then. (Thanks for hangout format idea, Rosie! Much appreciated.)

The next hangout will be on Saturday Nov 17th at 11am PST. Here’s a handy timezone converter.

If you’re a morning person too, come join me. Looking forward to meeting all of you once more, and a big welcome to all the newcomers! :D

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How to Truly Listen to Music

How to Truly ListenLast week, I saw another specialist for the sound in my ear, my third consultation in two weeks.

My back is hunched over in the soft cushy chair and my legs are crossed. The doctor hovers around my head to ask if I hear this sound or that vibration.

“Relax,” he says for the fifth time.

Before this room, I was subjected to a hearing test. Inside a small closed box, I am asked to sit and stare at a wall that is half a metre from my face. I follow instructions that sound from headphones.

The assistant administering the hearing test disappears for five minutes at a time and leaves me inside this space. I can’t even stretch my legs.

I began the appointment anxious, and it was only getting worse.

“I’m certain nothing bad is going on,” the ENT specialist says, “but I will do a full examination anyways to make sure you don’t have any tumours or weird things growing in your head.”

He presses a tuning fork onto various spots in my head and asks what I hear.

“We know the cause of that sound you’re hearing constantly is due to exposure to loud noise. That’s why it’ll go away when you are no longer exposed.”

He concludes that my ear is fine and my hearing is fine and the sound in my ear shall banish itself soon enough. He is certain of it.

My left ear is unaffected due to the shadow effect. The loudspeaker was on the right side of my head, so the left side was shielded from the sound waves. It’s probably the first and last time I will appreciate my balloon head for the size it is: huge.

“Is there anything I can do to help it?”

“No,” he says. “Just relax.”

So, for a while, I plugged up my right ear to prevent the poor thing from becoming even more sound-distressed. And for that while, I heard nothing in that ear except the ringing.

To get my mind off of the constant unfamiliarity, I turned to educating myself on the internet. Continue Reading

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Improving Piano Posture Using Alexander Technique

Improving Piano Posture Using Alexander TechniqueI distinctly remember the year I visited the gym every day–gosh, I was fit. I was confident. I had strength and stamina.

I wish my knee didn’t hurt as often. I’d be so in shape. Instead, I’m inspecting people’s postures in videos where they’re doing squatting exercises, in case my pain came from bad squatting posture.

Pan, my first trainer, is strict enough that I listen to what he says, but still gentle enough that I don’t feel bad about myself.

Today, he showed me how to bench press. I didn’t care about chest muscles until he announced that he would turn me into Miss Proportionate, and found out I needed to work all my muscles separately.

It turns out that pectoral muscles are difficult to work if you don’t already have some strength in your arms (biceps), because every exercise that involves your pecs involves using your arms as well.

“Am I doing this right?” I say. “I don’t feel anything in my chest. I feel it in my arms.”

“You will feel it soon. You’re not used to working your chest.”

There are benefits to conditioning a muscle or skill even if you don’t think you use it daily, because it can have benefits in other areas of your life. In this case, having strong chest muscles can give you better posture.

Very few women work on their chest muscles, but isolating these muscles helped me understand how all the muscle groups need to be exercised to minimize pains in your body–it’s changed how I approach staying in shape.

My chest muscles are quivering, and I didn’t even know I had them.

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Hanon & Music Practice Techniques (Artiden Music Hangout)

Hello! I hosted the first Artiden community hangout / Q&A and we had a blast! We chatted, played music, and I shared some of my favourite tips for memorizing and practicing technique.

Next month, I may try a different format so that we can get through everything we wanted to.

Send me your questions, or use #artiden on twitter or instagram or facebook if you want to send me a video of you asking the question!

Edit – Nov 1st 2018

The livestream video was deleted by accident. Next time, I’ll save a backup of the livestream. In any case, here are the topics that we covered during the September livestream:

  • How to use Hanon and play it correctly
  • Tips on learning a piece of music more quickly
  • How to get over fear of playing in front of others
  • Tricks for memorizing/fixing memory slips, Chunking – Piano Playing Hack
  • How to play fast runs – Blurring Technique
  • Memorizing hack – Closed Lid Technique
  • Played some music:
    a) Polanaise in C minor excerpt piano playing
    b) The First Noel piano playing
    c) Ronde de Jambes piano playing
    d) Joy to the World piano playing (just picked this up yesterday, played grand total of… twice before this)

I’m running another one next month, so keep your eyes peeled. I will also send out exclusive updates to people on the email list so enter your name and email here to join!

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