Music Lessons: Slowing down

Sometimes when learning something new one reaches a saturation point.

Often people have to slow down, try to do it at the speed you actually can do it without mistakes. An earlier version of me never took that advice because the urge to “get there” was too all consuming but as you acquire grey hair (or no hair) you see more clearly how it works. You wanna get there? Just slow down.

Cissy Houston

In the 70s I had a favourite record Surprises by Herbie Mann featuring Cissy Houston

and ever since Whitney Houston emerged and she was Cissy’s daughter I compared her to her mother and I like Cissy more


what a total master

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I’ll tell you about some of the people I’m currently teaching. There’s 2 classical musicians who want to improvise, there’s a comedian who wants to write well structured songs quickly, there’s a kid who wants to play Adele, there’s a guitarist who wants to play piano better, there’s a musical theatre actor who is looking for clarity re: how to jam with people, there’s a song-writer who wants an honest response to what’s good or what’s boring when I listen to her song-writing and how to add hot sauce to it and others with other issues I’ll write up for another post.

What are they doing? All are learning how to play and improvise blues piano or African influenced ostinatos in various keys. Some are analyzing Joni Mitchell technique and others the Beatles, Ben Folds, Burt Bacharach – this reflects questions they bring to me or strategies I supply. Some want me to play and then stop me when I do something they want to copy, then I slow it down and they try to tattoo it onto their brain. There are other licks and techniques I teach the way other teachers would start with scales, and we work at getting them to utilize those techniques for ease and speed into their playing (there are scales too). Often we record what we did so they can review it at home.


And for everyone who asks about teaching cats yes I still do that as well.

Quick quiz  – did I teach the cat below to play minor seconds in free time or is it coincidence?

Go to the music lessons section of my website or write