Beyond Music Blog by Bruce Arnold
This beyond music blog concentrates on ideas that any instrumentalist or singer can use to further their music education. Often the blog will concentrate on matters that affect all musicians, whether they are a composer or an instrumentalist. The overall focus is on raising one’s general understanding of music and the many elements that contribute to excellence in musicianship and artistry.
Inspiration From Many Sources
If you take a look at the recommended reading list from my artist website you will find a wide array of books covering many topics. One of my teachers, Charlie Banacos once gave me an assignment to go to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and write a piece of music based on a painting that I liked. (I chose a piece by Manet because at the time I found Impressionist painting to be extremely engaging.) He would often recommend books for me to read that weren’t even music texts, such as Jack Flam’s “Matisse on Art.” It made me realize that you could learn a lot from other arts and artists; and this exposure helped to enrich my own musical expression.
The Courage To Persevere
Being a musician is not an easy occupation. Questions always arise like “Am I good enough?” or “How do I create an original voice in music?” There are many other questions that preoccupy aspiring musicians and finding the answer is rarely easy. The best teachers I have had never told me to be like them. They gave me the tools I would need to find my own personal expression. Then it was up to me to do the work, use those tools. The work is a journey full of self discovery. Through this beyond music blog I will share some of the insights from that journey and hopefully they will help you too.
Beyond Music Blog: A Balance in Life
One area that I know I struggled with, was balancing a life outside of music with the drive to be the best musician I could be. The dilemma of when to detach from one’s musical goals and go enjoy life often plagues many musicians. If a balance cannot be found, it can ruin relationships and make you a very one sided person with not much to talk about except music. Finding a life outside of music is important for many reasons but eventually you must participate in life because it will be your best inspiration. An added benefit is that it takes you away from your obsessions, so that you can return to your studies with refreshed perceptions.
Learning From Other Instruments
Most of the great musicians I know play more than one instrument, and its interesting how often that other instrument is drums. I think to varying degrees depending on genre, rhythm is one of the most neglected parts of learning music. While this instrumental music blog won’t teach you how to play drums, it will present quite a bit about different ideas associated with rhythm and how it can often be the key to unlocking new ways to play melodically. I’ve written many books on the topic of rhythm and time. You can see a list of these in the Time Studies Section of this website.
Beyond Music Blog: The Importance Of Interaction
While perfecting technique and other musical skills may be foremost on your mind, never forget that music performance is a highly social activity. It’s about communication. The interaction of artistry and emotion is one of the great joys of performing with a group, otherwise you are a tree falling in the forest. So listening is key. I am much happier playing with a musician of limited ability who listens, than one who is not listening, and in their own world. Things like this are tough to teach a musician; we tend to be so self-involved. But neglect this at your peril. It can determine whether people want o play with you or not, and negatively affect your creativity, too.
One of the greatest parts of being a musician is exploring the vast possibilities of music. But there are always decisions to be made: “When is a composition complete? How do I improve my playing or break out of the rut in my composing?” When you are feeling stymied and uncreative there are ways to troubleshoot the situation. Having walked a mile in those shoes I will be offering some things that have helped me remain positive and creative. Many of these tips come from interdisciplinary interests, like visual art and yoga.
The Importance of Ear Training
A good ear makes music easier and allows you to learn and remember music faster. (Arguably the only thing more important than this is that you be sensitive and be a team player.) Ear training can really help you to enter the music universe from a completely different perspective. This perspective will show you new paths because your ear is much more intelligent than your mind. This may sound like a wild concept but that’s what this blog is for, discussing perceptions and how all of our senses and thoughts connect.
This Beyond Music Blog Will Be Going Beyond
You will see from looking at the Instrumental Books on this website that I’ve created many different kinds of books. Quite a few of them are very forward looking and go well past the traditional approach to composing and improvising. I hope over time you will seek out these books; you may find these approaches useful in creating new sounds in your own music.
The Importance of Listening
I encourage you to listen to as much music as you can, and keep it varied. Jump across categories; get out of your comfort zone. Music is about more than entertainment- it can be spiritual or totally physical or intellectual. You can learn so much about music just from listening. I also recommend checking out the Recordings Section of this website where there are many clips you can listen to for free and the price of the CDs is very reasonable.
As you can see this Beyond Music Blog will cover a lot of territory. I encourage you to get involved, and create a community with your comments. It is often very hard for musicians to find places where the subjects I’ve mentioned are discussed so I hope you find these musings helpful.
The Historic Precedents Of This Kind Of Music Education
You might enjoy checking out the “Music Education Genealogy Chart” located on my artist’s site. You will clearly see the historic progression of pedagogy that is the basis for Muse Eek Publishing Products. Great musicians throughout history have been studying the ideas presented by Muse-eek.com which derives its content from a a lineage that stretches back to Scarlatti!