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Goal Setting

In continuing to talk about the different things we gain from making music that translate into non-musical life, Craig talks today about goal setting. That’s essentially what we do when we learn a piece of music! Find out more in this episode!

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In this episode, Craig continues to talk about the different things that we get from learning music that translate into all other aspects of our life. Motivation is one major one of those. Whether it’s mom or dad encouraging a student to practice to a student finding “that” piece that becomes what consumes them, motivation is important and necessary, whether it’s internal or external. 

Check out Craig’s series “Music in 5 minutes (or less) with Mr. Craig” on YouTube.

Find out more about Harmanny Music Education here

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There are a whole lot of things that music lessons give you. Discipline is one of the biggest things you can learn from music. The discipline of practice, the discipline of learning, and much, much more! On this episode, Craig talks about the discipline he’s learned from taking music lessons, and how you can learn discipline too!

Posted in About Craig

I learned the wrong movement!

As I shared in my post yesterday, music has always been around me. Whether that was church, home, all around me, I love music and have been surrounded by all styles. But back in high school, there were 3 musical passions that fueled me. Choir, playing the trumpet and playing the organ. In those 4 years, I had unbelievable experiences in these 3 areas that inspired and shaped me to become a musician. I want to share one of them today.

My junior year of high school, I was preparing for our annual solo/ensemble competition. I had worked hard at playing the trumpet, was very self confident, and was looking forward to being 1st chair trumpet my senior year. I had excelled on my first 2 solos my freshman and sophomore year and was looking forward to doing great on this one.

I picked my piece, and it was a piece with 4 movements. I was supposed to play 3. So I start working on the 3 movements that it said (so I thought) I was supposed to perform. And I’m getting down SO good. Of course, being 17 years old, I decided to procrastinate going through it with my band director until 2 days before the performance.

So there I am playing it for him with my accompanist. I’m just nailing it, and it’s sounding REALLY good. After I finish, my director says, “Craig, which movements did you play?” I replied with movements 1, 3 and 4. And the 1 and 4 were correct, when he looked in the book, but it was supposed to be 1, 2 and 4. OH NO!! I learned the wrong movement! The 2nd movement was slow, lyrical, and had a difficult accompaniment. My poor accompanist did a great job of making it sound great on such short notice.

After 2 days of cramming and preparing, Saturday comes. I go in and play the correct movements, and I’m feeling good. I get good feedback from the judge. I wait for my results, and when they are posted….it’s a STARRED 1st! That’s the best you can do, and it moves you on to state competition. WHAT? That’s amazing! I was floored. I then went and played it at the state competition (after much more practice on the right movement) and got a 1st there.

So, the moral of the story. First, pay attention to details. Had I fully read what I was supposed to do, there wouldn’t have been a problem! But, at that point, I was regularly practicing, and between band and choir, auditioned ensembles, along with singing in church choirs and playing the organ, I was fully immersed in music and music theory. So, I had already established good practice techniques, I was thinking about and surrounded by music all the time, and so that helped me a bunch in fixing my error.

I’ve learned from that mistake, I look back at it and laugh at it, but it helps me to encourage my students to focus in on details and establish those habits of practice, along with surrounded themselves with music. Music is a language, and the more we “speak” it (by playing and practicing), the easier it gets. Keep speaking it, keep surrounding yourself with it, and it will help you immensely!

Posted in About Craig

Why Do I Teach?

I’ve been wrestling with this question for a while. And there are a bunch of answers I could give. I love music. I’ve spent 39 years of my life making music, studying music and learning about music. I had amazing teachers that encouraged me. All of that is completely true. But that’s not the full reason why I teach.

As I thought about it, the answer became very clear to me. Music is transformative. That’s why I teach. Music has always been a major component of my life. Listening to records, cassettes and 8 tracks are some of my earliest memories in life. Hearing music in worship (my dad was a pastor) and singing along with hymns in church has been the rhythm of my life for as long as I can remember. And I think that’s why I missed it being the most important reason. Because it’s always been there.

Music has transformed me in many ways. As a child and into my teenage years, it gave me an outlet to build up my self-confidence and show my God-given abilities in many different ways. In high school, it transformed me from just being focused on church music (and pop music that I listened to on the radio) to being immersed in madrigals, vocal jazz music, musical theater and many other choral styles of music. And that transformation made me want to teach. I wanted to pass on that joy and enthusiasm to others.

It’s been 20 years since I graduated from college and been a “professional” teacher. I don’t use quotations around professional to knock myself down, but more to remind myself that I am still learning, just as much as my students are. In going to college and getting a music education degree, and spending 18 years in church music, the idea of building a business, marketing, social media and teaching lessons online were never really a thought….until March of 2020. Then everything flipped, and I had to learn on the fly. While I have 39 years of musical experience, I’m by no means an expert. I’m still learning and growing, just as every musician and every teacher is.

I teach because I love music. I teach because I had great teachers that encouraged me in so many ways. I teach because I love helping my students learn. I teach because I love seeing my students transformed. Not just learning the basics of music, but learning how discipline, perseverance, focus and everything else that goes with learning and performing music transforms students into people who are more in touch with their emotions, creative, driven and hard working. And that’s why I teach.

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Craig is talking about different skills that we get through making music that translate into other, non-musical, areas of life. Today it’s perseverance. The not giving up, not quitting. It’s an important skill to have in music and in life. 

To find Harmanny Music Education’s YouTube channel, click here.

To find out more about Harmanny Music Education, go to the website.

Posted in Singing

Why Do I Sing?

That’s an awesome question. It’s something I’ve always done since I can remember. I stopped to really think about that question. Because if I could choose one that that I do (play piano, organ, trumpet or sing) what would it be? I’d sing.

My dad played choral music regularly growing up. That was my first exposure. He was also a pastor. So I grew up literally next door to the church and music was a huge part of that. But why did I sing?

For me, singing has a powerful and emotional connection. I’m fascinated in looking at that connection. Why, earlier this summer, did I tear up in church when we sang a hymn that probably most people didn’t know? Because it was one of the first hymns where I sang a verse in German. My family sang it for my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary service. I was 7. That was a huge impact in my life.

All through childhood, I sang in choirs, and there were lots of songs that I connected with, but it was when I got to high school that my love and passion for singing kicked in big time. My freshman year of high school, I was in our madrigal choir (I ended up singing all 4 years in it) and was in my first musical (Guys and Dolls). But it was the spring concert, where we sang excerpts from Mozart’s Requiem that just took a hold of me.

The thought of the mystery and the story behind Mozart’s Requiem, along with the thought that Mozart was composing this (in his mind) for his own funeral was powerful! And the music is dramatic, powerful and beautiful!

But then, my sophomore year, we sang my most favorite piece. “Alleluia” by Randall Thompson. I’ll do a deeper dive into this piece in another post down the road, but it only has 2 words. Alleluia and Amen. That’s it. An almost 6 minute piece with 2 words? How can such a simple text be so beautiful? It’s all in the music. Now, back then I loved the piece because it featured a low D, and as a bass that could rumble that out with no problem, it was my favorite. Now, I understand the true depth and beauty of this piece.

There have been plenty of pieces throughout my years that I’ve loved singing and that’s furthered the depth and passion for me to sing. For about 19 years, I didn’t sing as much, and I became focused on helping others sing, whether that was as a teacher or choir director. I do love that opportunity and I use the experience and training that I’ve had as a singer to help others. I’ve gotten back into singing more, and have been reminded of why I love it so much.

So why do I sing? Singing is emotional. It’s powerful. It connects. It’s something that I believe God created me to do. And I get to use that to help and encourage others, whether that is through my own singing or through my teaching.

Posted in Challenge, Funny Friday

Difficult Times

I was given this shirt by my church choir for Christmas of 2019. While it’s funny and ironic, it actually was quite prescient, because in March of 2020, the times did really get difficult.

If you’re not a musician, the top number tells you how many counts are in each measure. Normally that is 2, 3, 4, sometimes 6. Easy and straightforward to count, and (in the case of six) easy to subdivide and feel as smaller counts. The bottom number tells you what not gets counted as the beat. 4 on the bottom is the quarter note, 8 on the bottom is the eighth note, 2 on the bottom is the half note. 4/4 is called common time, because it’s the time that is commonly used in music!

But these difficult times…well, 6/4 isn’t too difficult. You can count it in 6 or 2 big beats of 3. 9/8 means that there’s 9 beats per measure, an eighth note gets the beat. You can count to 9, or 3 big beats of 3. 11/16…..well that’s just silly. A sixteenth note gets the beat (so that’s fast!) and 11? That’s not fun at all.

In my handbell choir this past week, we actually played a rhythm that was in 10/8 time. That was fun. We counted in 4 beats because the eighth note needed to be steady. So it was 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1 &, 2 &. It was a fun challenge!

This is the fun of learning music theory. If you don’t know it, this shirt probably doesn’t make much sense. If you do know it, it’s a hilarious inside joke. I love learning music theory and challenging myself to grow as a musician, even after all of my years of making music and studying music. There’s always something that you can learn!

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Why Should Adults Start Taking Music Lessons….or Continue?

Adult learners have been some of my most favorite students. Whether beginners, needing a refresher, or wanting to continue to learn, they are so much fun! If you’re an adult (or child) wanting to learn, I’d love to help!