Time to practice

Time to practice

Your music is calling

                     practice                          got to run

no time                           practice

too hard                                        work

don’t wanna                  practice     e mail

no motivation                         later



Try this: Five minute practice * One measure practice

Sometimes it is hard to find time to practice.  Sometimes motivation is the problem.

It is hard to disagree with practicing for five minutes and even harder to disagree with practicing only one measure.  And you can mean exactly what you say.  Five minutes and one measure; no more, no less.

I have talked about Deep Practice before and this little trick is not only good to get you to the piano everyday,  but it engages the musician in focused, slow repetition.  Really feel the keys beneath your fingers. Stick to the same fingering.

This is one of my favorite practice tips:  Set your metronome on an extremely slow tempo. Play each note/chord for 6 clicks. Then move on the the next note/chord for 6 counts(until you are at the end of the measure) Then set the metronome for 5 clicks, then 4, 3, 2, 1.

Who knows, you may end up practicing more!


Book of Gratitude’s

 Book of Gratitude’scuriosita 005

A pretty book to stuff full of writings, pictures,

bits of remembrances, scraps of words, observations that make your pithy little heart move over and make room for more                       

a map to show you the way,  sketches  

 gratitude floats

It is dandelion wisps hovering, hesitating over the abundance of ever changing possibilities.

In Time Stops for No Mouse by Michael Hoeye, a sweet adventure story for children, the mouse hero keeps a journal which he faithfully writes in before retiring for the night.

~ when things are going wrong and you are steeped in disappointment and anxiety, when you want to lie down and howl~

I have had my full share of disappointments. As a writer it is especially valuable to keep writing about what makes you happy, or what makes you sit up and notice.

Yesterday, I looked out the window at just the right time.  It looked like a bird party.  Robins and tiny birds flitted from our apple tree to the grass talking and taking baths in the pooled water.  They looked so happy and for that moment, so was I.



On practicing well…part two

          Practice                      Practice                 Practice 

          Practice                              Practice              Practice If you play more than one instrument it can be interesting to cross-reference, so to speak, from one instrument to another.

Use one technique meant specifically for your instrument and apply it to another musical discipline.  If you think about it, we do this all the time.   You always hear pianists instructed to think like a singer or you might hear a voice teacher suggesting the student imagine the phrase “like a violinist pulling the bow across a string.”

           What about the less obvious techniques ?

One of my favorite exercises as a violist is to lightly drag the finger up the string when practicing a shift.  Let’s say that you are on the A string, place the 1st finger down and lightly drag(as in playing an harmonic)up to fourth position E.

Feel, listen to the lightly played notes as you drag, and then place the finger firmly on the string when you hear the intended note.

If this is done slowly it is amazing how consistent you can get with your shifts. Could this work for piano?  We don’t have shifts but we surely have jumps that are easy to miss if you don’t practice effectively.

What if you tried…

Feel, place your hand on starting chord, lightly drag your fingers over the keys, anticipate by spreading the fingers as you reach for the new chord.  Touch, play only when fingers are exactly where they should be.

 Another piano technique I love is touch/bounce/play.  Use when you are trying to accurately move from one note or chord to another…Play original chord, jump to intended chord (but don’t play!!) first, touch the chord bounce fingers on the new the chord and if you are sure, play.

For viola or violin you could do something similar, perhaps tapping the string (new note) before playing.

As I said in my previous post it is possible to practice all the time and not get better.  How frustrating!

Practice by cross-reference, how effective!











on practicing well…

Fast slow   
              mistakes tell us where to go and what to do
If it is worth doing, it is worth doing badly
                                                  failure is always an option

                    practice makes perfect?

deep practice                                               involved         stop

attention                                          Stop



Why are some people so good at the piano or singing, or art (fill in your field of endeavor here________) ?  Why do some people seem to get it while the rest of us struggle? Are they just born better? Are they smarter, more talented?

Perhaps, but consider this:  Some people have just figured out how to practice effectively.

There was a time in college when I practiced all the time and I just wasn’t getting any better. Why ???  This just didn’t make any sense; practice makes perfect, right?

Not necessarily. 

I wasn’t paying attention to mistakes I was making.  I sang the easy things and gave up on the hard passages.  I was so stressed at my failures, so I avoided them.  I got so upset, that I couldn’t attend to the two things that would make me better, my mistakes and zeroing in on the parts that were just on the edge of my abilities.

What I have learned ~

Mistakes are good!

  If a mistake is made, stop!  Ask yourself; (and answer) what is going on here?  Try again.  If you blunder again, instead of calling yourself stupid,  Stop!  Ask yourself, would it work better if I used a different fingering? If you make a mistake stop! try playing three long counts to each note.   Look hard at the music.   Are there any other spots that are similar?  Really take the time to figure it out.

Practicing something just out of reach of your abilities will make you better. 

This is hard because no one likes to sound terrible, but when you allow yourself to be bad something good happens.  Opera singer, Renee Fleming, has said in her master classes sometimes you have to make all sorts of sounds to get to your most beautiful voice.  She remarked once that if anyone heard her practicing they would think she was a five-year old singer and not a particularly good one at that.  And this is a world-class singer speaking!

This approach to practicing is effective because one is truly and deeply involved.

Sketching out ideas


              what to do?


                                                what to draw?


       I have run out of talent                           

Do you save your old sketches and rejected art work?

If you do, you are in luck.  Recently, I hit a snag and was having a hard time coming up with ideas.  Nothing seemed to come out right.

I got out my old work and was surprised at not only the good ideas I had, but at the volume of  sketches I had accumulated.  I had put aside most of the work for good reason, but in between the “good heavens, that is horrible” and “yikes”  there was a lot of good stuff.

                                                I remembered….                                 

              an idea for another a flying cupid pig

a trio of seahorses…

a pair of sleeping bunnies…

                puppies I meant to draw…

and a little mouse with a back pack.


Sometimes you have to sift through

the old to bring out the new.

Writing query letters


Query LettersIMG_9578

For all you writers out there: I wonder if you feel as I do, that sometimes writing the query letters and synopsis’ are harder than the book you labored over!

I have done a lot of research on writing query letters.  Below is an example of my adventure book , ready to go out and seek its fortune.

Sample query to an agent or publisher~

address particulars
Dear (specific agent’s name)

What Emma doesn’t know could kill her.
Everyone says that her mother is the finest costumer and seamstress of the 21st century. Such delicate work, so intricate, so old-fashioned. Why is her mother so silent on their family history? Why are there no photographs in the house?
Asking these questions has gotten Emma nowhere, but she does have her prized locket with the miniature painting of her family; an absent father, a mother with haunted eyes and a young girl who would give anything to know the mystery of her family.
Emma is about to get her wish. Emma falls headlong into 15th century Verdéa, a place full of deadly intrigue, twisted plots and feuding kingdoms.

Emma’s arrival sets off a series of irreversible events that will change her and Verdéa’s history forever.
Emma meets Nana Nature, an ageless woman banished to the islands. Emma longs to please this mysterious woman, but every request asked of her sends her deeper into danger. Emma can’t shake the feeling that there is some unseen force in the background leading her to places she doesn’t want to go. She is right. Someone wants Emma dead. Some one wants Emma’s soul.
The Book of Stone is a 97,000 word adventure story for the middle reader.
Woven throughout Emma’s story is Nana’s story as a young girl living among the plotting Wise Men and magicians of her time. Who would have thought that twelve-year-old Emma would have such an impact on the people of Verdéa?

Who indeed?

Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you.
Anne Wood


How to Write Attention Grabbing Query and Cover Letters by John Wood (no relation)

The 2014 Children’s and Illustrator’s Market

There are online sites, such as, Poetry and Writer’s Magazine that have listings.

The art of the song

Goethe                            The art of song

music           Art Song               warmth  Aria                 poetry

           sublime          passion                            music+poetry

French Chanson              German  lieder


For those who love poetry, there is a whole other world to explore and it is

                               The art song

I love singing and listening to art songs.  They are beautiful but be warned; these are for those who like to think.

There is so much  poetry that we miss because it written in a different language than our own.

A singer must be able to sing and know their way around languages.  Most of us take diction classes and learn the International Phonetic Alphabet.  But the real work is truly understanding what the poet means and how it fits with the music.

Any of you who have been to a really good production of a play by Shakespeare know that in the hands of a good actor, audiences understand most of what is going on.  It is the same with a singer singing in a foreign language; we might not understand all the words but if the singer has done her homework we will get the gist of it.  The poem below is translated from French to English:

 Corneille, Pierre 1606-1684


I am jealous, Psyche, of all nature:
the rays of the sun kiss you too often;
your hair allows the wind too many caresses-
when it strokes your tresses I sulk.
The very air you breathe
takes too much pleasure in passing your lips;
your garments touch you too closely.
And whenever you sigh,
I do not know what terror fills me,
fear, lest from among your sighs some may go astray.

Pretty heady stuff, n’est pas?

Imagine thousands of poems, each one richer and prettier than the last~

                                 Imagine thousands of  pieces of music, gorgeous and sublime~

                                                                                  Imagine them coming together~

If science and math is our head and art is our conscience than surely music and poetry must hold the heart and soul of humanity.

It is worth exploring, isn’t it?