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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: John Wooden

Grant Yourself Permission

Andrew Hitz

"If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes."

-John Wooden

Make mistakes in the practice room, with your writing, with your teaching, with your entire career.

Grant yourself permission to make mistakes in every aspect of your life.

If you can't or won't, I just granted you permission. So make some mistakes.

Practice Room Advice from John Wooden

Andrew Hitz

"Don't activity with achievement."
-John Wooden

The above quote is the problem with practicing for time (like practice records that only note time spent.) Our goal in the practice room should not be activity, but achievement.

Every one of us can get more done in a super-focused 30-minute practice session than in a distracted 60-minute one. So hide the clock, write down exactly what you are trying to achieve in any given practice session, and don't get up until it's done.

It's The Little Things

Andrew Hitz

"It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen."

-John Wooden

John Wooden may have been a basketball coach but he sure knew the secret to success in music.  The difference between a superior rating and an excellent rating at assessment is the little details.  The difference between your average professional musician and the greatest in the world is the little details.  The difference between having a great lesson and a pretty good lesson is the little details.

Because the little things make the big things happen.

The Smart People Imperative

Andrew Hitz

"Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who will argue with you." - John Wooden

If there is any one piece of advice that I could give to a young person trying to make it in the music business or any other business, it is to surround yourself with smart people.  You limit the potential of any endeavor when you are clearly the smartest person involved.

Unfortunately in music, our first instinct when forming something like a chamber ensemble is to find not the smartest people, but the best players and go from there.  This is a really bad idea.

I joke with my students that there are only three chamber groups in the world who actually get along.  I might be exaggerating just a little bit but the point is still valid.  Most successful business ventures are not started by buddies who have similar strengths and approach things in the same manner.

When starting a chamber ensemble or any other business endeavor, surround yourself with smart people who will question your ideas and tell you when they think those ideas aren't any good.  Be sure those are the kind of people who will counter an idea they don't like with one of their own.  Smart people don't just criticize, they offer their own possible solutions.

Surrounding yourself with smart people has never been more important in the music business than it is right now.  Use that as a starting point for forming business partnerships within music and you'll start out way ahead of the game.  It's not just a good idea, it's an imperative.

And yes, this is the 2nd time I've posted about this.  It's important!

© 2012 Andrew Hitz

The Little Details

Andrew Hitz

"It's the little details that are vital.  Little things make big things happen." - John Wooden

The above quote is from a famous basketball coach but it might as well have been from a famous musician.  Oftentimes, as performers or music educators, we tend to focus only on the big things - "hitting" notes, rhythms, intonation.  But like in a magnificent church, it is the little details that make all the difference in the world.

How consistent are your note endings in all registers at all dynamic levels?

Even if your band is starting and ending a crescendo at the same volumes, are they all crescendoing at the same rate throughout?

Are your dynamic levels consistent relative to each other throughout an entire work?


There are countless ways that you can make a performance more refined.  Truly inspiring performances are always the sum of those very small refinements.  Think globally. Act locally.