A Search and a Call for Truth in Music

15 years ago I was an inexperienced spiritual seeker armed with a righteousness that rivaled JP Sears’ Ultra-Spiritual spoofs. I made a dismissive comment about a musical piece of angry, arrhythmic dissonance to my dear friend and cellist, Andrew Eckard. He knocked me off

Does “Psychological Safety” Help or Hinder Your Music?

My past is darkened with a shameful experience. Many years ago I was in a quartet where I constantly dominated all discussion, told the others what was wrong, and let my ego run rampant. I was playing with younger musicians (I myself was

The Mouse, the Cheese, and the Owl

Does the type of motivation matter for your performance? This weekend I’ve got lots of creative work to do, but find it hard to get going. What would be the best way for me to motivate myself? A. Focus on negative

The Sound of Devotion in Your Music

Last night, while performing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, I was deeply moved during the 3rd movement where the first violin’s 16th notes flow in gorgeous counterpoint to the main theme in the winds (quick reference video). If I were to foolishly try to define what Beethoven

Celebrate the Return of Light in Your Music

Happy Winter Solstice! How are you celebrating the return of the light? Years ago as a classroom teacher, I discovered that many cultures celebrate with light throughout the year: Ramadan. Diwali. Chanukah. Kwanzaa. Christmas. Furthermore, in yogic traditions the solstices and

Yo-Yo Ma: Spiritual Master Musician or Musical Spiritual Master?

I was in the front row for Yo-Yo Ma’s solo recital last night. It was a life event that opened doors both musical and personal. He performed the 1st, 2nd, and 6th Bach Suites, each preceded by a short piece evoking a folk style

This Is What Gratitude Does to Your Performance

Gratitude in performance? What a ridiculous idea. Won’t it take away from our focus? Nope. Last Sunday I performed a sextet with fabulous musicians from the Oregon Symphony, as well as the Brahms Clarinet Trio (watch it here). I felt immense gratitude percolating behind

What’s the Greatest Service of Music?

I’m performing a recital on Wednesday. How do I best serve the audience? My life is a search for that answer. At first I focused on trying to fulfill the wants and desires of parents, teachers, and audiences. Approaching the task from the outside-in,

Pay It Forward from the Audience

Last weekend I heard an amazing concert by the Pacific Youth Choirs with guest director Dr. Rollo Dilworth. As a father, frequent guest artist and clinician with PYC, I had a choice: I could focus with a critical ear, or I could

Who’s at Fault—Performer or Audience?

In a recent performance, the magic just wasn’t happening. “Tough crowd!…They hate it!…Who’s going to make the next mistake? Me?…I’d better play it safe.” It ended on a muted note of frustration for me—an inspired performance had been within our grasp. So who’s to