The Lost Procedure

This following post will be useful to develop optimal body motion!


“So we saunter toward the Holy Land, till one day the sun shall shine more brightly than ever he has done, shall perchance shine into our minds and hearts, and light up our whole lives with a great awakening light, as warm and serene and golden as on a bankside in autumn.”  

Henry David Thoreau – Walking

Marjorie Barstow 1976

Perhaps not lost, not to all but, I fear, to some. It may not be getting the attention it deserves. Few teachers are as confident and accomplished at teaching walking, as a procedure, as they are in teaching chair work or lying down work as a procedure. Marjorie Barstow, one of my mentors, loved this procedure. She took people as much from standing into walking, as most teachers today take people from standing into sitting. And so do I. I like walking because it is the only procedure that clearly…

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New Music Season

brain on music 2Summer Vacation has been GREAT!  I hope that everyone has fully enjoyed this special time of the year.  And now – let the new school year begin!

Music lessons will start the third full week of school – the week of September 17th.  All students from last season have been given priority for registration until September 1st. Registration is now open to all.


                               It’s now time to register for the coming year!  


Mother and Children Waiting for a School BusBack to school shopping is now in full force.  Do you still need to shop for music supplies?  It’s not too late!  Whether  you’re returning to music lessons or a first timer, it’s the perfect time to make sure that all the essentials necessary to succeed as a music student are in place.  Being ready and confident for music lessons both in and out of school greatly helps to keep students motivated and focused on their musical progress; no matter what their level is!

Here’s a short list of some musical tools that make learning music easier and enhance their achievements:

  • Care Kits

Music materials need a “weatherproof” container.  This includes a case for any personal instruments being brought to the lessons as well as a container that will protect their books from being crushed or wet.  A plastic accordion envelope is great for the books and can be found at many Office Supply stores – or even at the Dollar Store!  Guitar students would benefit by having a small container in which to store their picks.

  • Tuner/Metronomes

These are great tools for students for establishing good timing and rhythm as well as developing a sense of accurate pitch.  … even smart phone apps that will help you learn chords and theory!  Ask your teacher for recommendations.

  • Music Stand

When practicing at home or at school, putting sheet music down on a counter or a table can greatly affect how a student plays (or sings!) for the worse.  Having a music stand that allows upright viewing and can be adjusted to proper eye level promotes good playing form and posture.

  • Assignment Books

This could be a lined copybook in which the teacher can write lesson instructions to do at home.  Parents are able to keep track of what the child learns and their progress throughout the year.  Notes to the teacher may also be attached to this book.  The student may also keep a record of their practice time at each lesson.

  • Method Books and Other References

Your teacher’s extensive experience has helped her to develop a list of useful method books as well as other fun supplementary materials.  Please ask.

  • Instrument Starter Kits

Unsure about which accessories your music student needs?  You may want to look into an instrument-specific beginner’s kit. These are available for instruments of all kinds!  Looking to keep costs down?  You may be surprised how many local instrument rental options are available; even for digital pianos!  Used instruments can also be a good value– with your teacher’s knowledgeable input, you can safely select a used instrument that is just right for you at this time (which could be resold at a later date)!

Looking forward to a new music year!

Cycling and The Alexander Technique

This is about biking, but can apply to any thing that we do with our body. Practicing an instrument with the wrong technique can also create poor body habits and lead to injury.

Beethoven by Bike

‘now there’s a proper cyclist… look he’s using the whole of his body’
pic 1 bobbing dude


I quote a very distinguished consultant neurologist and was, at the time, unable to articulate a well formed answer. However, after a couple of years of thinking about it, here is my considered response!

I have met a few cyclists who off the bike look like this. I have often wondered how their cardiovascular and digestive systems manage as the upper chamber of the thorax, containing heart and lungs must find it very hard to attain their natural desire to expand and the lower abdominal chambers must find it hard to find room for all the very necessary fuel to keep the whole show on the road, so to speak!

Pic 2 standing dude


All that bobbing to one side and another? can’t make it any easier to breathe with all that extreme…

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Music/Language Analogies: The Poor Ones First

Learning to read is a naturally developed process in music and in language.

The Ways Children Learn Music

Why am I taking your time to show you analogies that don’t work?  To get your minds into the swing of thinking about music in the same way you think about language.

—Leonard Bernstein, The Unanswered Question, pp. 60-61.

So far, I’ve written two posts about music/language analogies.  They were mostly general and introductory.  Now that I’ve set the stage, I’m ready—almost—to examine a few analogies in detail.  Keep in mind that there are two kinds of music/language analogies:  1) those that go nowhere; and 2) those that hold together just long enough to spur our thinking about music pedagogy.  Is it worth our time to delve into poor analogies?  Yes, because, as Bernstein reminds us, even poor analogies can get our minds going.

In this post, I’ll discuss two of those poor music/language analogies—notes and letters, patterns and words—just to gently put them to bed; and in the next…

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