Staying on the Steady, Persevering RoadPosted on August 29, 2015 by Thornton ClineMany in this world have tried to play musical instruments or write songs but have quit because it wasn’t what they thought it would be. They had the impression it would be easy to play a musical instrument or write songs without devoting many thousands of hours of hard work. In fact, The Talent Code, a New York Times best seller is specific–it takes at least 10,000 hours to master a skill. It is not surprising that some people believe that they can become a master of something without plenty of hard work. Every day you turn on one of those television mega talent shows you here comments like “they were an overnight success”. Why don’t tell their viewers the truth? It took many thousands of hours of hard work to become that successful.
Learning to play a musical instrument or write commercial hit songs is not something you dabble in unless it is merely a hobby you do every now and then strictly for personal enjoyment. If you want to be great at a musical instrument or be a great hit songwriter it takes traveling the steady, persevering road. It means scheduling time (at least two hours every day) to learning the basics, the technique and learning everything you need to know about the subject. It means practicing until it becomes easier–second nature to you. You can’t take your eyes off of the road. Life hands us too many distractions and obstacles. But, we’ve got to keep our eyes on that steady, persevering road, the one where we are consistent every day. It’s that steady progress made every day through patience that delivers the amazing payoff of successful results. Sometimes it is hard to have patience. Sometimes it is difficult to see even the tiniest successful results or improvement. But, the improvement is there even when we can’t see it. It’s the day by day improvement that finally adds up to the great rewards at the end of the road.
Next time you think about quitting, think about that steady, persevering road and what you’ll find at the end of the long journey.
Posted in Thornton's Blog | Leave a reply“Shrinking Piano” Teaches Kids It Doesn’t Pay To Get AngryPosted on August 23, 2015 by Thornton ClineIn this world of the alarming rise of disrespect and anger in kids, comes the arrival of the new children’s book, “The Amazing Incredible Shrinking Piano” as a helpful tool for parents as well as teachers. “The Amazing Incredible Shrinking Piano” is part of a series of illustrated books. I wrote this book to instill in children an important lesson of life. This book teaches how to control anger and teaches the respect of the piano–how to treat the piano kindly. Published by Hal Leonard Corporation, the book is illustrated by award-winning illustrator, Susan Oliver.
According to a recent Harris poll of 2,250 adults, respect for teachers dropped from 70% to a meager 31%.
It is unfortunate that many kids today do not show respect to their teachers and to property. You can see that there are some serious anger issues in kids that teachers and parents must deal with.
The Amazing Incredible Shrinking Piano” is a wonderful teaching book that combines three books into one: text with illustrations for kids to read, a songbook of 10 original songs and a narrated audio book with children’s choir performances.
Posted in Thornton's Blog | Leave a replyAn Absolute Must!Posted on August 11, 2015 by Thornton ClineIf there’s nothing else you decide to do or change in your lifetime, there is an absolute must–study music lessons on any instrument. Most teachers recommend starting the piano first and branching into other instruments if interested. It’s best to start at an early age but it’s never too late to study a musical instrument.
Music study is essential in life. There are far too many benefits to ignore. Based on my over 25 years of teaching experience, I cannot think of one negative to studying music.
After some careful research thanks to Nafme (National Association for Music Education), I have discovered over 20 amazing, undeniable benefits to studying music-instrumental or vocal. The first is how effective musical study can develop the left side of the brain. There is a marked improvement in language and reasoning skills of a person who studies music. Musical study over a length of time can develop an impeccable memory which is valuable through a lifetime. There is a significant measured improvement in test scores, including SAT and ACT scores. Those skills carry over into everything in life. Craftmanship and detailing are improved in our every day work through musical study. The world is full of mediocrity. So, this one benefit would be worth it all. Right hand, left hand coordination, eye coordination and fine motor skills are developed through studying music. Emotional and intellectual brain capacities are greatly enhanced. Strong confidence, self-worth, strong character development and teamwork are all amazing direct results of studying music.
I could go on and on with at least twenty more reasons to study music, but I think you get the point. Studying music is essential. Music improves the life of a person more than any academic subject, or sports-related class. It is an absolute must.
Posted in Thornton's Blog | Leave a reply“I’ve Never Lost A Student”Posted on August 5, 2015 by Thornton Cline“I’ve never lost a student.” That’s what Dr. Shinichi Suzuki says in his book, “Nutured by Love”. What he is referring to is the common problem of parents of Suzuki students wanting to call it quits for their children on the violin, piano or another instrument while their children want to continue to study lessons. There are parents who become frustrated with their children because they aren’t practicing enough or don’t practice at all. Some parents give up because they see a lackluster attitude in their child. Also, many parents don’t have the time or want to put enough time into the demands it takes for children to practice faithfully every day. I hear some parents complain that their children don’t practice enough at home but love to attend their lessons.
The “throwing in the towel” attitude from parents is why parent education is so crucial in keeping students in the program. I recommend that new parents read the book “Nutured by Love” or watch the video by the same title before they start classes. Another excellent book for parents is “Every Child Can”. I started writing my weekly blogs to help encourage parents for these very reasons. I make myself available to parents with questions on practicing and what is expected of them at home. I invite my parents to regularly attend and participate in their child’s lesson so they might learn what is expected of them.
I am grateful to my parents for always believing in me with my musical studies. There were several times I wanted to quit. One of those times was when I entered what I call the “social years” phrase which usually starts around age 12. There are parents who say that they shouldn’t force their children to practice. My answer to them is yes, they shouldn’t force them but encourage them instead. That is exactly what my parents did with me when I protested against practicing. They wouldn’t allow me to quit, but they didn’t force me either. There is a big difference that I think a lot of parents don’t comprehend. We can love our children and encourage them. We can stand by them and show our support without forcing them. This is what I believe parents need to do when they feel like giving up. Anything that is worthwhile is worth some persistent and hard work. So parents if you are reading this and you are frustrated with your child’s lack of practice, please dig in your heels and encourage your child with love.
Posted in Thornton's Blog | Leave a replyTo Read Music or To Have a Great EarPosted on July 23, 2015 by adminThere are teachers and parents in this world who become alarmed if students are not learning how to read music from the very first day they start lessons. Learning how to read music and read it well is a priority for me. I teach both the traditional and the Suzuki Methods. The traditional method students that I teach are usually older-around 8 or 9 years in age and up. I teach them how to read music from the get go. The younger students from ages 2 through 6 years are instructed using the Suzuki Method where imitation, repetition, rote, ear training and memory are practiced. The emphasis is placed on training the ear first. Reading music is secondary. Once the ‘ear’ is established I concentrate on note reading which is introduced in book 2 of the Suzuki Method.
With the Suzuki approach students are getting the best of both worlds-acquiring a great ‘ear’ and learning how to read music. I tell concerned parents who worry that their children aren’t learning how to read that I teach ‘delayed note reading’. I have observed over the period of 25 years of teaching that anyone can learn how to read music but that not everyone can have a great ‘ear’ for music. I have performed with some great professional musicians who were expert note readers but who didn’t have a trained ear for music. I have also performed with great professional musicians who have great ears for music but who are not skilled in note reading.
It is awesome to find musicians who can both read music proficiently and who possess a great ear for music. I honestly believe that it is important and necessary to have both as a musician. Next time someone complains about not reading music at first I will ask them if it isn’t equally important to have a great ear too.
Posted in Thornton's Blog | Leave a replyPatiencePosted on July 17, 2015 by adminPatience is something of a rarity in today’s world. I look around and see people who throw their hands up in frustration, curse and shout, and walk away from something that didn’t produce instant results or instant gratification. I’m not sure how so many people have come to the conclusion that if you don’t see instant results or receive instant gratification you’ve got to to give it up. Perhaps television or the film industry has perpetuated the myth that you can accomplish something difficult at the blink of an eye without any practice. Much of television gives the wrong impression by showing amazing feats by talented and gifted athletes/entertainers and then proclaiming that this or that star is an “overnight success.” Rarely does television mention that it can take up to 10,000 hours to master a skill.
That’s a whole lot of patience involved in making someone a major success. I think that if people realized how many hours of hard work, dedication and patience went into achieving major success they would seldom dream or aspire to great things. Many wouldn’t have the patience to accomplish great things.
So when you see someone exercising untiring patience it is a sight to marvel. This person is going to achieve greatness cause patience is not only a virtue, it’s a necessity.
Posted in Thornton's Blog | Leave a replyTenacityPosted on July 8, 2015 by adminSome people feel like success is out of reach when it comes to achieving major accomplishments in any field. And many times it does feel like a daunting task. It is true that we have to possess a deep amount of passion for whatever we do or decide to do. But, success involves more than just passion. It takes drive, hard work, patience, and persistence, not to mention the right opportunities to come our way.
Probably one of the most important ingredients to achieving success is the regular daily practice of tenacity. Tenacity is the tireless determination and perseverance of giving our best day in and day out without losing our zeal. It is trying harder each day even though we don’t see immediate results of our hard work. It takes time to see the fruit of our labor particularly in the creative areas of work. There are times we all get discouraged or feel down. If that happens we can allow ourselves to feel that for an hour or a day but then tenacity over rides the feelings of discouragement and leads us to another day of tireless determination.
Tenacity is a part of discipline. I believe that it can be learned in training. Even though I waver here and there with focus and discipline, I am thankful for my seven years of undergraduate and graduate education in music. I am thankful to my parents for always supporting and encouraging me to practice my instruments. I am grateful that they never allowed me to give up. There were times I felt like quitting. But feelings can be fleeting when you are 10 or 12 years of age. My parents never forced me to practice they only encouraged and supported me. There is a big difference between forcing someone and encouraging, supporting and not allowing someone to quit. I believe that the discipline learned from my musical training since I was 5 years old through the end of graduate school has really helped me in achieving success. I have learned what tenacity means. If I only I could help instill that in the younger generation. I keep trying. I’m not giving up on teaching them what tenacity means and how important it is in life. Perhaps there will be some who will listen and practice what I teach them. They will carry their tenacity into the next generation. There will be many others who won’t listen. But, those that do will go on to be highly successful in whatever they decide to do.
Posted in Thornton's Blog | Leave a replyMediocrityPosted on June 30, 2015 by adminMediocrity. The world is full of it. Many settle for this and that without constantly trying to improve and perfect their gifts. Yes, everyone has some kind of gift that they’ve been given. It’s just of matter of finding it.
Many people for whatever reason fall back on something that they were never planning to do in the first place. Often times the fall back plan has nothing to do with their gift they’ve been given. Then they can end up in life despising what they settled for left feeling miserable for being stuck in their fall back plan. And the world is full of people who use every excuse they can find to explain away why they are not perfecting and improving their gifts.
Now I know what I just said might be harsh or offensive to some. I am definitely not trying to be judgmental in any way because it is true that some people have been dealt an unfortunate hand in life due to circumstance or to a series of difficult hardships and events. But, how can we blame difficult hardships and circumstances in life solely on mediocrity? There are just as many successful people who have soared to greatness who were stricken with extreme and difficult hardships as there are people who gave up and never tried at all. Yet, there are many people in this world who depend on others for their well being. They depend on governments, organizations and businesses. If they were to realize that they were already equipped with God-given gifts and power within themselves how many might try to achieve greatness?
I had a professor during graduate school at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York who was a great mentor and encourager to me. He always encouraged me to strive for greatness. His name was Dr. Everett Gates. He was appalled at the fact that most of us only use less than 10% of our brain capacity in our entire lives. That is sad and unbelievable. Can you imagine what would happen if we used even another 5% to 10% of our brain capacity? Can you imagine how the world could change if more people strived for greatness? We might be able to solve some of the world’s problems. We could possibly cure some of the fatal diseases in the world? Perhaps there might be a multitude of solutions available to us.
Next time you think about settling for less in your life start dreaming more and imagining yourself in the providence of greatness. I still believe that no matter had difficult the hand that you’ve been dealt with in life you can overcome it and rise to greatness with the gifts you’ve been given.
Posted in Thornton's Blog | Leave a replyPassionPosted on June 29, 2015 by adminPassion is contagious. Passion is necessary in any line of work, profession or career. It helps success become long lasting and meaningful. Without passion a career, profession or a trade is merely a job. Too often it is a job that many can’t wait to quit, or retire from. In fact a recent USA TODAY poll found that 67 percent of American workers despised their work and couldn’t wait to retire. On the other hand a career, profession or trade full of passion is an amazing and inspirational sight to see. A person who possesses passion is seldom thinking of quitting or retiring. Instead that person sees what he or she does as non-work and enjoyable. He or she could do it for a lifetime and could do it constantly without ever getting paid for the service.
Whether we’re teaching, writing, acting, performing, or serving in a trade or profession, we must deliver with our whole hearts. We must exhibit our passion in such a way that we are mentors and that people are inspired to greatness. In order to exhibit that much passion we must discover our gifts and what we’re best at. We must put the love of money aside and not allow how much money a profession or career pays to dictate what we do as a career in life. Our passion should never be our second or third choice playing second fiddle to our fall back plans.
When I advise young people about what to do with their lives I always advise them to follow their gifts with passion and to follow their passion. I tell them that they may not make a lot of money at first or they might not seem successful at first. But, if they are truly passionate about what they do, people will see and feel their passion. People will flock to them and jump on their bandwagon. And one day their passion will be so contagious and will spread like a fire out of control. It not be able to be contained.
Posted in Thornton's Blog | Leave a replyRespecting Your InstrumentPosted on June 19, 2015 by adminMost people think that this topic of “respecting your instrument” is a rather elementary subject. Most probably assume that everyone knows how to take care of their instrument and show respect for it.
But, you’d be surprised how many people are lackadaisical when it comes to taking care of their instruments. I have observed students and professionals who are careless with their instruments. They will forget to clean their instrument. They will leave their instrument on a chair during a rehearsal break and forget that someone could accidentally knock their instrument off the chair. They leave their instrument in a very hot or cold vehicle for a long period of time. Or if they play acoustic piano they haven’t tuned their piano in years. These are a few examples of how instruments are not being respected.
I take the time in a lesson to demonstrate the proper care of an instrument. I show the student how to clean it and put it away properly. Each lesson begins and ends with the student taking a bow. The bow teaches respect for the teacher and the instrument.
Good instrument care habits start at the very first lesson. They must be practiced daily at home and at the place of the lesson. If you see someone disrepecting their instrument and you are familiar with that instrument, take a few minutes to show him or her how to care for their instrument. I heard a motto not too long ago which applies to the respect of one’s instrument. It goes like this, “Love your instrument and it will love you back.”
Posted in Thornton's Blog | Leave a reply
Saturday (03 January)
1 Practice Personalities in Songwriting - free book event/workshop
Wednesday (21 January)
1 The Amazing Incredible Shrinking Violin - free book event
Thursday (22 January)
1 The Amazing Incredible Shrinking Violin - free book event
Saturday (24 January)
1 The Amazing Incredible Shrinking Violin - Workshop
Sunday (25 January)
1 Hit Songwriting: Secrets of the Pros
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