Monthly Archives: May 2013

How to Practice Music: Practice Smart

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practicepianoA recent blog post by Noa Kageyama, entitled “How Many Hours A Day Should You Practice,” has received a lot of attention in music education communities. Its thesis is that there’s no single right answer; that the quality of your practice time trumps its quantity. That might seem obvious, but it contradicts all we’ve heard about 10,000 hours, about marathon “woodshed” sessions, about practicing until fingers or lips start to bleed, about playing the same phrase of music over and over, until we get it right or, as one of my teachers used to say, until we can’t get it wrong.

Rock star fantasies, aside, music can be a lonely pursuit: musicians, as a general rule, spend more time alone in the practice room than onstage in front of adoring crowds. Practice is our homework. In addition, practice time tends to be private: anyone who’s spent time in a building (usually a Music Department basement) filled with halfway-soundproofed practice rooms has surely noticed how many of her peers tape sheets of paper over the glass windows in the thick doors, so that passersby in the hallway won’t know who’s inside, making mistakes and trying to fix them. Some musicians have teachers and performance deadlines to dictate what to practice, and our schedules determine when, how often, and how long, but we’re mostly on our own to decide how to practice it. How should we do the everyday work of actually learning to play? How do we know when we’re ready to leave the practice room and perform?

Of course, there are advantages to that privacy: alone, music students can hear themselves, and they can repeat phrases, passages, or pieces however many times and at whatever tempo may suit their needs. Hearing ourselves only helps when we know what to listen for, though, and repetition can reinforce errors in our muscle memory as well as it can help us learn to avoid them. Instead of focusing on hours or repetitions, we should focus on practicing deliberately and thoughtfully: Practice smart.

To practice smart, we have to learn to listen to ourselves. Smart practice is focused and deliberate: it has problems and goals, and strategies to address and meet them. It can be time-consuming, difficult, and, yes, lonely.

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EdTech Digest: “Cool Tool Tutti”

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The team at EdTech Digest recently selected Tutti Music Player as one of their featured “Cool Tools”.

“Like Khan Academy teaches students in traditional subjects such as Math and English, and teaches users to speak new languages, Tutti helps musicians reach their full musical potential.” Read more here.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Music Winners!


This month, the finalists for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington high school music competition gathered in New York.  The high school bands were treated to a one-on-one with Wynton Marsalis and an open music rehearsal with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis. The high school jazz bands then gave some incredible live performances!

The video of the announcement of the three top jazz bands is here.

The Tutti Team had a great time helping high schools around the world prepare for this year’s Essentially Ellington jazz competition with Tutti Music Player.

Congratulations to all of the jazz bands that participated! Can’t wait for next year!


The top-placing bands in the 2012-2013 Essentially Ellington program were:

First Place
Tucson Jazz Institute, Tucson, AZ
Second Place
Jazz House Kids, Montclair, NJ
Third Place
Roosevelt High School, Seattle, WA
Honorable Mention
Dillard Center for the Arts, Fort Lauderdale, FL



Happy Jazz Fest 2013

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NOJHFHappy Jazz Fest 2013!

Highlight’s from this year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival  included:

Shannon Powell in the WWOZ Jazz tent.

- Sync Up 2013 – thank you Scott and everyone who participated to make the music industry conference great!

- Shorty Fest – what a night!! Congrats to the Trombone Shorty Foundation on putting together a terrific celebration. Missed it? You can support the New Orleans music education non-profit  here.

- favorite foods + delicious music + mud + blue skies

Tutti Dynamics released new full-length music for Tutti Music Player for iPad in celebration of the Fest. You practice playing with some of New Orleans most respected jazz musicians here.




download the app for free: Get Tutti