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

What Is Beautiful in Your Music?

On Tuesday I was a panelist for a philosophy of music class on “What Makes Music Beautiful?” at Lewis & Clark College. Dynamic discussion! Is it structure? Is it emotion? Is it context and memory? Is it tone? For 90 minutes we

Leverage Your Powerful Memories to Enhance Today’s Practice and Performance

I walked onto campus last night to begin my work at Lewis & Clark College. As I met with the new collegiate orchestra players, I felt the memories from my own college years come flooding back, the good the bad, and

“Listen! You smell something?”

Ghostbusters. What an awesome movie. In the library scene quoted above, Ray (but not Peter or Egan) is experiencing an “orienting response”. His body stills, his breath quiets, and his attention is highly focused. These are the same physiological responses that accompany inspired experiences that I’ve

What’s behind inspired music?

Something weird about me: In the midst of glorious music, my breath often stops on its own. I’m not purposefully holding my breath—I’m just moved to stillness. I feel a resonance that would rather not be disturbed by breath. My body doesn’t seem to

How to Make Sacred Music Truly Sacred

It was hot—really hot as I wound my way up the Historic Columbia River Highway to the Royal School of Church Music Retreat. The river glistened in the evening light as I entered the beautiful grounds of the Menucha Retreat Center in Corbett,

What legacies are YOU carrying?

I was caught red handed—the huge serving spoon had disappeared completely into my mouth. “You’re just like your father!” “Thank you!” I love my dad.  But then I had to wonder…. If I’m carrying stuff from my dad, and he is carrying stuff from his dad, how

How do I know if I am inspired?

For me, it all comes down to three things: A deep enjoyable stillness in my breathing and heart that continually invites me deeper. A presence of clarity and energy that keeps me going without fatigue. A concentrated energy in the prefrontal