The Life of the Artist: Balancing Work & Play

 

As a musician or other person in the arts, it is necessary to work countless hours to master your craft. Yet, sharing life experience is intrinsic to artistic expression. You can look at this on the macro level of your life as well as how you deal with your career as a musician.

 

Like killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, you must never push yourself to the point of destroying your love of music in your quest to develop a virtuoso technique on an instrument. Yet if you don’t practice enough, you won’t have the means of expression. So then how do you achieve such a high level and still have something of value to share with your audience? This is a timeless question.

 

Every person must find balance in their lives. No one can force you to become an artist. It has to come from within. It is necessary to have discipline, but the playful, spontaneous nature is intrinsic to the creative spirit. It is an amazing fact that people who have mastered piano technique are not rare in this world, yet an artist capable of conveying deep emotions to their audience provides a profoundly memorable experience.

 

You must make practice joyful work. But more than that, you must also let yourself live carefree at times, never losing the playful fun, interaction with people, and enjoyment and appreciation of living life to its fullest in order to be the ultimate, expressive artist you are capable of being.

 

Thanks for joining us, if you have any questions or comments about this subject or any subject at all please contact us directly: info@livingpianos.com (949) 244-3729

  As a musician or other person in the arts, it is necessary to work countless hours to master your craft. Yet, sharing life experience is intrinsic to artistic expression. You can look at this on the macro level of your life as well as how you deal with your career as a musician.   Like killing the goose that … Continue reading The Life of the Artist: Balancing Work & Play

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Can a Piano be Too Old?

 

It’s sad to think that a piano can simply age to the point where it needs to be thrown away. Sadly, this is sometimes the case. But is it really the age that is the determining factor in getting rid of a piano or is it something else? Today we are going to discuss this topic in-depth and decide whether or not the age of a piano can determine it’s fate.

 

The age of a piano has much more to do with its upkeep, environment and use than the date of manufacture. We have have pianos here in the showroom from the 1880s that have been restored and are in better condition than most 10-15 year old pianos!

 

I recently had a conversation with a technician who found a 1906 Knabe upright – all original – from an estate where it had virtually never been played. He told me that not only do the strings (the original strings!) sound vibrant and young but the tuning is incredibly stable and you would never have known it was a piano from over 100 years ago. This is a very rare occurrence but it does happen and with the right environment the date of manufacture may be superfluous.

 

I’ve also run across a different issue with the age of pianos. Some Viennese piano companies were actually producing “period” type pianos well after the development of the modern piano action. While Steinway and other major manufacturers were producing pianos similar to pianos being made today, these companies were still making older style pianos. In this scenario, the age of the piano doesn’t even tell you how modern the piano is!

 

Ultimately, the factors that determine the age of the piano beyond just a manufacture date are:

  • How much the piano has been played
  • The environment the piano has been in
  • The upkeep of the piano

Now we can go extremely in-depth on each of these factors above, but these are general guidelines for determining the true age of a piano – not just when it was built. Just like anything else, if you take care of your piano and keep it in a safe place it will last a long time unless you play it a lot since parts of pianos wear out. You shouldn’t be discouraged from looking at a piano just because of the date is was made – that is only a small portion of deciding whether or not the piano is a good instrument.

 

Thanks again for joining us, if you have any questions or comments about this subject or any subject at all please contact us directly: info@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729

  It’s sad to think that a piano can simply age to the point where it needs to be thrown away. Sadly, this is sometimes the case. But is it really the age that is the determining factor in getting rid of a piano or is it something else? Today we are going to discuss this topic in-depth and decide … Continue reading Can a Piano be Too Old?

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Can You Outgrow a Music Teacher?

 

This is a very common and important question and I’m going to answer it as honestly as I can. Surprisingly, this doesn’t have to be as controversial a topic as it sounds. In some occasions there is a point at which some students can simply outgrow a teacher.

 

A common example of this is a student progressing past a teacher and needing someone with a larger range of experience and repertoire to continue to grow as a musician. This is something that teachers should be aware of and understand as a possibility. While it might be tough to see them go, letting a student progress to a higher level is something we should all strive for as teachers and sometimes it’s just best to let go. Keeping a student past the point of diminishing returns will only stunt their development and it could end up creating resentment. Many musicians will have a number of teachers over the course of their lives; it’s not something to be afraid of or avoid, it’s a part of musical development.

 

Another example is if a student wants to branch off into another genre of music that their teacher isn’t familiar or experienced with. Maybe you have a student trained in classical violin who decides they want to explore bluegrass and fiddling. Some teachers might turn up their noses at the idea of a different genre but it’s not something we can and should control. If a student wants to explore other genres of music with their instrument you should encourage them and help them however you can. If it’s beyond your abilities it might be best if you help them find another teacher that specializes in their desired genre possibly even an adjunct course at a local college in addition to lessons.

 

This can be a real touchy subject for many teachers and students but it’s not something that should get in the way of learning. If you are learning well and getting along with your teacher then you should continue to do so. If it’s time to move on, it’s time to move on. The best thing we can do as teachers is continue to help our students become the best musicians they can be. If they outgrow us it should only be taken as a compliment – after all, you laid the foundation for their progress and you’re part of the reason they have progressed so far!

 

Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin Robert@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729

  This is a very common and important question and I’m going to answer it as honestly as I can. Surprisingly, this doesn’t have to be as controversial a topic as it sounds. In some occasions there is a point at which some students can simply outgrow a teacher.   A common example of this is a student progressing past … Continue reading Can You Outgrow a Music Teacher?

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Should you Perform Music for Free?

 

This is a topic that a lot of people have very strong feelings about – either one way or another. Being a musician – no matter what genre you play – is so fiercely competitive that many venues and booking agents don’t only expect people to play for free but they sometimes actually expect the musician to pay them in order to perform.

 

This is not a new concept but it’s more widely used today more than ever. For example, musicians who play New York recitals actually pay in order to perform so that they can get reviews. They hope to sell enough tickets in order to break-even but they could be on the hook for a lot of money out of their own pockets if they don’t fill up the hall.

 

For rock bands you are often put in a position of what are called “pay to play venues” where they will issue a certain amount of tickets and require you to sell them. If you can’t sell all the tickets you still owe them the money so often times bands will need to shell out hundreds of dollars to perform. Most of the times venues will do little or minimal promotion for an event and the bands will be stuck marketing their own shows as well – so if you don’t sell any tickets or bring an audience you could be playing in front of an empty room (which happens more than you would think).

 

Getting back to the question at hand, should you perform for free? It’s something you must decide yourself but you should also look at the situation in which the performance takes place. How much is there to gain in playing for free? Sometimes it can be worth your while to get yourself in front of a new audience.

 

For example, if you were offered to play at a charity event somewhere and there was a guarantee of a good sized crowd, this could be something beneficial to you for the exposure. Not only would you get to perform in front of a lot of people but many of them see you performing in support of a noble cause and will be much more interested in what you are doing. Sometimes there are opportunities of collaborating with great musicians which can make performing a benefit concert worthwhile. Prospects of getting audio or video recordings of events which you can share in your marketing efforts may also make things worthwhile.

 

You must be careful with any opportunity to perform for free. Even though you might not be paying to play, you will be paying with time and work on your part. You will most likely be responsible for your own transportation to and from the venue and you will have to take into account the time you will need to dedicate to the performance – both the actual performance and practicing. Is this going to be worthwhile for you? You have to ask yourself that question; you shouldn’t put yourself in a position of being exploited.

 

An example of a bad non-paying gig would be something like playing at a party. If it’s not for a benefit and nobody will be specifically listening to your music, is it worth playing for free? Most of the time it won’t be; in some rare cases you might want to anyway because you can gain benefit from the networking opportunity. As a musician you really should value your talents and hard work and you should not let people take advantage of you.

 

Thanks again for joining me Robert Estrin Robert@LivingPianos.com

  This is a topic that a lot of people have very strong feelings about – either one way or another. Being a musician – no matter what genre you play – is so fiercely competitive that many venues and booking agents don’t only expect people to play for free but they sometimes actually expect the musician to pay them … Continue reading Should you Perform Music for Free?

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What if You Don’t Get Accepted to a Music Conservatory?

 

Today we are going to talk about a tough subject, not getting accepted to a music conservatory. This is a very real fear for any music student but it’s not the end of the road for your potential career. Today we are going to talk about the options in front of you if you don’t get accepted to the school of your choice.

 

I know a number of students who worked very hard to get into the schools of their dreams and they ended up getting denied by all of them. This is not necessarily because they are bad students or musicians, it may have more to do with the admissions process for schools than anything else.

 

Getting into a music conservatory is largely a random process. Picking qualified students is based upon so many random factors that are simply out of your control. How many students are applying that semester? What students are applying? How many openings are there? What is the temperament of the teacher selecting the students? There are dozens of factors that can impact your ability to get into a school every semester – it’s too random a process to guarantee results.

 

Don’t get discouraged. I have had illustrious students have gotten substantial scholarships to top conservatories yet other schools wouldn’t even let them audition! These are very accomplished students but for whatever reason some schools didn’t think they fit their program and didn’t even invite them in.

 

There are options. Other than simply re-applying another semester (which you can definitely do), there are options if you didn’t get into any of the schools you applied to. Whether you are a performance, conducting, or composition major, the most important thing is your private teacher. If you can get a great teacher for your instrument you can progress (arguably) just as fast as you would at a music school. This is a very important investment that should not be overlooked.

 

Reach out to other musicians in your area. Getting experience playing with other musicians in community orchestras, quartets or small groups is a great way to practice performing with other musicians as well as develop great contacts and more experience and exposure. You can get a lot of music education by utilizing these resources without ever having to set foot into a classroom.

 

Community College is a great option. If you want to pursue a degree in music and you haven’t been accepted right out of high school I encourage you to attend your local community college. Many of them offer amazing music programs with very accomplished teachers and musicians. Right here in Southern California there are a number of community colleges that offer great music programs and the instructors are top-notch.

 

Not only can you gain musical experience at community college, you can get a lot of your academic classes out of the way (at much lower cost) before you transfer into a university. I know a number of students who have taken this route and gone on to great success.

 

It’s not the end of the road. Don’t get down on yourself, there are many factors beyond your control that go into the selection process for a music conservatory. If this is your passion than you should never give up; time, work and persistence really do pay off and you can achieve your goals if you keep working towards them.

 

Thanks again for joining us, if you have any questions or comments about this subject or any music subject at all, please contact us directly info@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729.

  Today we are going to talk about a tough subject, not getting accepted to a music conservatory. This is a very real fear for any music student but it’s not the end of the road for your potential career. Today we are going to talk about the options in front of you if you don’t get accepted to the … Continue reading What if You Don’t Get Accepted to a Music Conservatory?

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