Contentment: Supreme Virtue or Enemy of Progress?

My 12-year-old student came out of his audition. “I’m rather pleased with that,” he said to me. I wanted to yank the smug expression off his cute chubby face. In my opinion there was MUCH that could be improved. I wanted him to take

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

How to counterbalance hate crime

I was deeply discouraged when I read the news about the hate-crime tragedy in South Carolina that left 9 dead yesterday. I feel deeply for those who mourn. In sending thoughts and prayers to the families, I’m frustrated that life isn’t balancing out like it is

Dealing with uninspired music

Moments of frustration come for me when I am learning a piece that is neither inspired nor intuitive to learn. So what do I do? As a musician I’m expected to play pieces given to me. I’m not asked to like

An inside view of my year with BRAVO

Last August I became a Teaching Artist at BRAVO Youth Orchestra in North Portland. It is an after-school music program based on El Sistema, founded in Venezuela in 1975 by José Antonio Abreu. Gustavo Dudamel, Music Director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic,

The 5 major advantages I will have in my audition

I have a huge audition coming up for a full-time position at the Oregon Symphony. The audition will bring over 100 very capable cellists from all over the country to audition. We will all play behind a screen for the prelims

Does Your Audience Resonate with You?

Certain ideas, stories, and music resonate with us. They move us. They make us feel good when we hear or read them. Why? Because they VALIDATE our thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Resonance is validation. Something inside us stands up and says “YES! I know

What did you give when you gave your last performance?

This holiday season, the spirit of giving is everywhere. In comparison to all those who are able to get out holiday cards, cookies, and thoughtful gifts for everyone—I feel woefully behind and overwhelmed. My wife is one of those amazing women

An Audition of Freedom

“Andrew, David, and Emily, the audition committee would like to hear you again. Everyone else is free to go.” As you may know from my last blog, my challenge was to take the Oregon Symphony audition without comparing myself to any other cellist