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This is Cara from Hunterdon Academy of the Arts and for this month's "Tips and Tricks" series, I wanted to give you a few tips on what to do when you feel like you're stuck in a rut in your Music Lessons. Or you're lacking motivation and need some new sparks in your musical life. But instead of hearing it from me, I thought I would ask some of our teachers who are actually in the classroom with you what they do, or what they would tell you if you're in this situation.
Pete B., Guitar Teacher: "For those of you who might be stuck in a rut whatever instrument you might be playing, every kind of music you play. I found that in my personal experience, what has always helped me progress and stay interested and motivated is keeping my ears open, and I always try to find new artists, new instrumentalists just to stay inspired because you gotta see what's out there and how other people have done it. You never know when you're gonna find something that makes it be like I want to do that. And when you find that, you can really take it and run with it."
Kristen B., Acting Teacher: "So my advice for Actors is: if they ever feel stuck for inspiration or feel a lack of motivation, or if they just don't know what to do or where to go, or if a part is stuffing them, a role is stuffing them, I really really really really suggest meditating and I know that that's infuriating and crazy because we are just like so used to go go go go go, but if you just take a moment and clear your mind and not think about anything for five minutes--and I know that that seems like a really long time--you'll be able to look at everything with a fresh new perspective and with a clear head and it's magic, it really is!"
Russell H., Violin Teacher: "I would say that there are many times in playing and in anything that you might do, you may have reached some sort of a plateau and you feel like nothing is going anywhere and then you know that's when you're kind of in a rut, and I think the best thing to do--not that there are other ways around this--but I find what works is just to go out and do something different and leave whatever it is you're really stuck in, just leave it alone, leave it behind, go out to do something else. But then come back to it at a later time, whether it's the same day or another day. As you come back, your mind is more open, I think, to pick up where you left off and move on."
Gail F., Violin Teacher: "My suggestion for finding a way to motivate yourself is to find music that you really enjoy playing. You can go on YouTube and find some songs that you really like, suggest some songs to your teacher and then see if your teacher can find the right key for your instrument that you can play that piece."
Twice a year, Hunterdon Academy of the Arts hosts Trinity Guildhall music examinations. Whereas fall-semester exams focus exclusively on music theory, students spend the spring semester gearing up for the Graded Exams in music performance, offered in May. The Graded Exams are administered by a professional examiner from London, who visits all Trinity Guildhall Centres in the U.S. to test students on their command of the Trinity Guildhall curriculum. Subject areas include the performance of prepared music, sight-reading skills, as well as technical skills on the instrument.
This year's visiting examiner was Mr. John Humphreys, a kind man, and aficionado,
collector, and well-known authority of the French Horn. Mr. Humphreys stayed with us from May 24 through May 26 to hear more than 70 applicants from various parts of New Jersey as well as from out of state. We were absolutely thrilled to learn from him that after doubling the number of student participants this past year, Hunterdon Academy of the Arts is now among the top Trinity Guildhall Centres in the U.S., second only to the Baltimore, MD Centre!
This year's examinees were mainly pianists, guitarists, and singers. With very few exceptions, all students passed their tests and and are now anxiously awaiting their Trinity Guildhall Certificates, including Mr. Humphrey's helpful comments on their performance.
With its nine graded exams ("Initial" through Grade 8) designed to become progressively more challenging, the Trinity Guildhall curriculum provides a wonderful motivational tool for lesson students of all ages. Offering Trinity Guildhall training as an option, Hunterdon Academy of the Arts has been very successful in helping students become better musicians and improving the overall quality of its music lesson programs.
At the end of his demanding three-day marathon at HAA, we took Mr. Humphreys to the Tuscany Grill in Glen Gardner, where he concluded his stay with a delicious dinner and a big smile (see picture above).
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