Director of Education Sep 2016

I have just arrived home from Wellington Brass Bands UK tour, and am feeling very inspired as I write my first column as Director of Education (for the 2nd time). 

I wanted to write today about a very important topic - Learning. If you ask any player around the world how they got so good, they will generally tell you two things 1) Hard work, and 2) being open to learn new things everyday. We can learn from so much from artists of all types just by listening. Dont close your mind off from being inspired or taught something from a person you least expect to learn from. 

First and foremost we have to make a conscious decision that we want to learn, and keep our minds open, and then we have go out and find the information. We are so lucky to live in an age where we are a click of a mouse away from inspiration and education, even if you have to sift through a bit of stuff to get there.

Every 2 years I like to go away and get lessons, a kind of reset on my playing. I focus on a few different areas that I have been working on, and really challenge the teachers I am getting lessons from for information and ideas to work on. For me this process is vital, its a thirst for information and a thirst for improvement. 

My challenge to you is to think about the way you approach your instrument, and the way you approach music. Is it the same way I have always done it? Is it time for a change? 

Heres a good starting point: pick someone in your town that you respect as a musician and a person, doesn't matter if they are a singer, a pianist or a baritone player. Then ring them up and ask them if you can play for them. Take a piece of music and play it to them, and then listen to them, absorb all the information, no barriers, no defending yourself, just listen and learn. One of the best lessons I have ever had was from a violinist, and it changed the way I looked at music, I urge you to do the same.