Garnet Walters

Pianist Educator Producer Composer Arranger

The Official Website of Garnet Walters and Geephlat Music

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Digital and Virtual Pianos

Hi everyone! In my last blog, I talked about why I prefer an acoustic piano in comparison to digital and virtual pianos. As much as I love acoustic pianos, I don't have the luxury to practice on one everyday. Due to that fact, I have to go with technology. Even though I have to go that route, I must have the closest simulation and feel to the piano. These are the pianos that I use the most. (Side note: I'm not going to go into the details of the specifications of each virtual piano. I'm just going to talk about my experience with each one.) Here are the virtual pianos that I like (in no particular order):



I love this piano because it sounds like the real thing without using a whole lot of RAM. There are different pianos to choose from like the Steinway D to the Yamaha C7. There are also producer ready pianos and legacy pianos/keyboards for specific artists as well like Bruce Hornsby.

Alicia Keys Piano by Native Instruments



I like to use this piano because the people at Native Instruments literally went to Alicia Keys' studio and sampled every single nuance of her Yamaha C3 Neo piano. I believed they nailed it in terms of sound, touch, feel and expression. Because this piano sounds so real, it can use a lot of RAM, especially when recording.

Classic Piano Collection by Native Instruments



These are another set of virtual pianos made by Native Instruments. I love the fact that there is a variety of tone colors and feels with these set of pianos. From the brightness of the New York Grand to the warm notes of the Berlin Grand, I have many options to choose from depending on how I feel that day to what I want to express musically.

Piano In Blue by Cinesamples

I fell in love with this virtual piano not only because of the authenticity of the sound but because it is so versatile. The people at Cinesamples did a wonderful capturing the essence of the Steinway Model D Grand Piano which has a very interest story. This can also take up a lot of RAM as well, but it is worth it. I use this piano the most.

I know that there are other virtual pianos out there. There are more that I would like to try out and add to my collection. Keep in mind that the velocity of the keys can be changed to your liking. Try it out. Experiment. What virtual pianos do you like? Which ones do you dislike? Which ones would you consider purchasing? I am interested in your feedback! Enjoy!

Here are the links to the websites for these pianos:

Piano in Blue by Cinesamples:

Alicia Keys Piano by Native Instruments:

Classic Piano Collection by Native Instruments:

Reason Pianos by Propellerhead:

Acoustic Pianos Vs Digital Pianos


I have played on many pianos in my life. I have also played on many digital keyboards and digital pianos as well. I would love to have access to practice on an acoustic piano but I am currently using an 88 fully weighted keyboard/workstation and a virtual piano from my computer. I am amazed at technology because of how close the digital pianos sound to the acoustic pianos. It's so close that the technology can fool you. However, as close as technology can get, for me nothing beats playing on an acoustic piano. Here are some reasons why:

1. There is something about getting the sound out of a piano without having to move a slider or turn a knob. As the pianist, you control that as you press the key. It's also pretty cool to feel the slight buzz in your fingertips from touching the keys.

2. The sound from the piano is the main thing for me. It's an awesome phenomenon to hear the overtones on a piano. It's like the tones are alive and blending with each other.

3. The action on a piano to me is more exact. What I mean by that is there once you press the key, the tone is released. The issue of latency is not present when playing an acoustic piano. There is no delay.

4. For me, playing on an acoustic piano keeps me honest. I cannot afford to be lazy while I am on a piano. I am accountable for every tone that comes out. I have total control of that.

5. The connection to an acoustic piano is wonderful. I feel that the piano is an extension of me. I am sending out the raw, unfiltered sound and emotion when I am playing.

6. I also believe that the acoustic sound has a deeper effect on people rather than the digital sound. It is probably because of the pure overtones and the pure vibrations on the acoustic piano.

There are many more reasons that I have missed. I love the piano. I'm not knocking that how far the digital world has come. This is just a matter of preference. I have been playing pianos since I was a child (I had a Baldwin upright for many years. We pretty much grew up together.) Please feel free to chime in! Thanks for taking the time to read this!

P.S. I will do a blog on my favorite digital/virtual pianos.


As a young musician, I was often caught between holding back and being a disciplined player. I was never really one to take a chance musically because I was afraid that I would make a mistake and/or I thought that others would think that my idea would be corny. I battled this for a long time. Usually, younger musicians tend to overplay and play everything that they know. I, on the other hand, held back a lot. I still do this even now.

I remember when I attended Purchase College and studied under Pete Malinverni. He told me that I have great musical instincts and I should trust them. He also told me something that I carry till this day:

"Always do what the music calls for."

This statement has helped shaped my view of music. It has enhanced and added to my musical instincts. It has helped in terms of what kind of musical vocabulary I should use for a specific tune, how I should shape a solo, and shaped my understanding of the musical language. It's all about knowing what goes where. Creativity is involved in this because sometimes I have to know how creative can I be with the given parameters.

Often times, other musicians and band leaders tell me to open up and play out more (I call that giving me the green light). My thing is that I want to blend in with the band. When I get the green light, I get excited! At the same time though, I make sure that I do what the music calls for. There are some cases where I had to "water myself down" due to the insecurities of others and in that made me a dishonest player. I felt like I had to lower my skill level because other band members didn't practice or take their craft seriously as I did. Discipline is still the name of the game though. I have to continue to play my parts with excellence. If the song is joyous, then I have to express that. If the song is sad, I have to express that feeling.

A good friend of mine told me that discipline is all about timing. It's like trying to throw a ball in between two train cars while train is moving. It takes patience and risk in order to do it. So when I play I pick my spots carefully. I play an idea just enough so that the listener would hear it but quickly enough to not be in the way of another musician or vocalists.

I'm really glad I learned it this way. Some musicians learned this concept in a more traumatic fashion. Just do what the music calls for and try to throw the ball between the cars. Take a risk but be patient!

Please feel free to comment!

Thank You Harmonic Minor Scale!!


I remember as a young student how much I hated the harmonic minor scale. Why? It was that skip from the flat 6 (b6) to the major seventh (M7). I loved the sound of it but my fingers wanted to boycott that interval jump at the end. In some keys, (primarily C, D, E, F, G, A and B) the fingering was pretty straight forward and manageable. When it came to the black keys, my fingers were tangled up in knots because the fingerings were completely different. With slow practice and a lot of patience, I managed to get the scales down into all the keys.

Fast forward to 2014. I was practicing the B flat (Bb) Harmonic minor scale and the fingering that I was using felt strange. I was using the fingering that I had used as a child but something felt off. I slowed down and examined what I was doing. I was taught to start with my 2nd finger in both hands and I remembered that clearly but something still didn't feel right. I decided to go read the fingering from the Hanon book and I was right. 2nd finger on the left and right hand on the Bb. I check out another book to make sure that the fingerings were correct and to my surprise, the fingerings were different. The right hand started with the 4th finger on the Bb and the left hand started on the 2nd finger on the Bb. I tried it out slowly and I felt comfortable. No awkwardness at all! What I learned was the key to playing this scale as well as others was contingent on where the 4th finger lands.

My ring finger surely had a work out that day but I immediately saw the benefits. Usually the ring finger is the weakest finger but the harmonic minor scale kept it accountable and honest. When I started to play my other scales and lines, my ring finger kept up! So not only did I learn a new fingering, my ring finger got stronger because of it! That skip was an excercise in itself!

It's a good thing to check out alternate fingering for scales and other musical ideas. Everyone does not have the same hand or finger shape so that also needs to be considered. Experiment weird fingerings when playing scales or when you are soloing. Experiment with different fingerings when you are learning music as well. The composer may have put that fingering there for a reason. Maybe it will work for you, maybe it won't. Don't be afraid to try it out.

With that being said, I would like to thank the harmonic minor scale and its counterpart the harmonic major scale for teaching me this valuable lesson. I will never forget this!!

Feel free to comment!!

My Library

I love to read. I read because it appeals to my imagination and it feeds my mind. I love learning and experimenting with ideas and concepts musically. Here are some books to check out that can help in one's musical development! The+Musician's+Way-+A+Guide+to+Practice,+Performance,+and+Wellness+[Hardcover]+_0195343123_400

This book by Gerald Klickstein is a book that covers everything from how to practice to preventing injury to even the psyche of the musician. I shored up my practice habits reading this book. It reinforced practice habits that I had learned as a child. "The Musician's Way" is a great read!! You can follow him on Twitter @klickstein. He also has a website: The book is available in major bookstores and available for Kindle and iBooks.


"The Practice of Practice" is an awesome book to have. The author, Jonathan Harnum brings a wealth of knowledge and wisdom in the art of practicing. There are definitely many eye-opening revelations in this book. He gets into the minds of many great musicians and the concepts that are revealed are astounding. This book is available at and is available for Kindle. Jonathan Harnum's website is You can also follow him on Twitter: @PracticeTactics.

These are two of many books that I have in my library. There are more books that I would love to share. If this is helpful to you, please let me know!! Enjoy!!

Information Vs. Revelation

l1816929551 Lately, I have been practicing more on the basis of revelation rather than information. What do I mean by that? Well, let's go back to when I started playing piano as a child. When I was taking lessons, I was learning based off of gathering information and data (for example, this is a C major chord: C, E, G.). This had no bearing on the teacher giving me great insight on music. This was solely based on how I perceived and received what was being taught. On the other hand, I loved to experiment with music on my own free time and gather revelations on what I have learned on my own. Looking back, I realized how much I needed to experiment AND have structure in my musical development.

As I got older, I became more of a music theory, chord and scale book fiend. I figured that if I "played" the formula of how a chord progression works and learned my musical ideas from a bebop run book, that I would be creative. However, it made me mechanical musically because I was gathering information. In contrast in learning the books and "formulae" of great music, when I listened to music, I learned at a faster and more efficient rate because I was witnessing creativity. The key thing was when I listened to music, there was always something new that was revealed that I hadn't heard before in the song or piece. In the theory/information/formula aspect "2+2" will always equal "4". In theory, a C major chord is "C E G". If I were to be creative with the C major chord, I could play it as "C G E" or "C E G" with each note in a different octave.

There are some cases where information can become an "A-HA!" moment and that is a revelation also. There were things that were said to me as a teen that I finally understand because I have finally experienced the information first hand. Information becomes revelation when the thought becomes an experience. Experience and learn as much as you can musically. I'm still learning and I'm hungry for more revelation musically. Information and trivia has its place but revelation through experience with the information will increase learning in leaps and bounds! Revelation is generally active while information alone is passive. Here are some quotes to check out:

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” - Pablo Picasso

“Learn the rules, then break them intelligently.” ― Jessica Bell

"A theory can be proved by experiment but no path leads from experiment to the birth of a theory." - Albert Einstein

"After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well." - Albert Einstein

"There is no theory. You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law. I love music passionately. And because l love it, I try to free it from barren traditions that stifle it. It is a free art gushing forth — an open-air art, boundless as the elements, the wind, the sky, the sea. It must never be shut in and become an academic art." - Claude Debussy

"Works of art make rules but rules do not make works of art." - Claude Debussy

"You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail." - Charlie Parker

Now I'm not saying that the books are not great tools. What I am saying is that when I was actively experiencing music, that was when I got revelation. It is not only limited to listening to music. When I am learning a piece on sheet music. I get revelation as well. Sometimes it's as simple as a specific hand movement. Sometimes it's an articulation or even a nice melodic line that can potentially be a seed to a song or lick. I guess what I am trying to say is revelation is more organic because it grows and becomes a part of you.



I remember practicing the piano one day and I realized something. When I really wanted to execute a musical idea, I would raise my shoulders. I would think that by doing this, the musical idea would magically be played. Wrong.

Raising my shoulders was more of a hindrance than an aid in my playing. I couldn't execute whatever I was playing because I was unknowingly creating unneeded tension from raising my shoulders. From the audience's perspective, they feel that I am really "into the music" or I'm trying to "sell the song" to them. From my side of things, my ideas are not coming out as clean as I would like.

So how did I remedy this situation. Well, I had to practice slowly. Very slowly because I needed to know when I would do it. Crazy enough, my shoulders would rise up like I was being controlled by a puppet master. Once I recognized this, I put my shoulders down and "reset" and started over. I started again and sure enough it happened again. I raised my shoulders. So, I had to reset again. All of this information by practicing slowly. After a while, I had "cut the strings" and I was free...for the moment. The lesson that I learned from this experience is to relax. I had to think of my body as a garden hose. A garden hose is connected to a pipe and water flows through it freely. When there is a twist in the hose, water does not flow freely and little to no water may come out. So raising my shoulders was the equivalent to twisting a garden hose. Energy was not flowing properly because it was twisted up in my shoulders. Now not only am I very conscious about what I am playing, I am conscious about the state of my body as well!

Any thoughts? Feel free to let me know what you think! <a

Zamar Nation

10290601_1479127718984329_8334065973481346860_n I had the honor and pleasure to be a part of an awesome musical project.  Zamar Nation, which has Bryant Wilder on bass, Andre Johnson on drums, Damon Mack on the organ and Willie Brown on guitar, created an album called "Uplifted Hands".  It consists of different styles of sacred music ranging from traditional gospel to Christian Contemporary Music.  It was fun to make music with such awesome musicians.  There is a nice blend of high musicianship, heavenly vocals and easy listening that will draw the listener in as the album progresses.  Many people have said that they play this music in their cars and is in heavy rotation everywhere they go.  I must say that this is a great testament of how great the music on this album is!

If you want to purchase a copy of this album, you can go on Amazon, CDBaby or iTunes.  Experience wonderful sacred music by getting your copy today!


You can check out Zamar Nation's website here:



Paralyzed By Perfectionism


Practice makes perfect, however what happens when the journey to "perfection" keeps you at the starting line? There were many times in my life that I felt that way. I felt that I needed to dot all of my I's and cross my T's in order to be ready. It's one thing to prepare well but it's another thing to be crippled by perfection.

I must say that perfection had crippled me because I thought that whatever I did was never good enough. I knew that if I had made a mistake then everyone else listening would have heard it and remember it just as much as I did. Even if someone came up to me to compliment me on my performance when I was younger, I wouldn't believe them because I know that I had made a mistake that wasn't even noticeable. I had a lot of fear in me because I thought that I wasn't good enough. On top of that, comparisons made my fears and perfection a whole lot worse.

Perfection caused me to second guess myself and it lowered my confidence in my musical abilities. I thought to myself:

"Who would want to listen to me play?"

"I'm not the best in the world and since I'm not the best in the world then I don't matter."

"The world only accepts musicians that do not make mistakes."

"If you make a mistake, you can easily be replaced and become irrelevant."

These thoughts have crippled me for years. I guess there is a part of me that wanted to be accepted. Everyone has that feeling. It feels great to belong. Many people have asked me for many years, "Why aren't you playing out and performing live?" I would answer "I'm not ready yet. I don't believe I'm ready." After a while I had to ask myself, "When will I be ready?"

One day I was reading the Bible and this one statement popped of the page:

"If you wait for the perfect condition, you will never get anything done."

After reading that, I had to make a choice. Either go out and do my best with the best preparation possible or live in regret of not trying because I wasn't perfect. So I have made the choice to go out and play more and invest in my craft as a musician. People are going to say what they want and that's fine. As long as I am doing what I love and embrace the process, I'll be fine. The conditions are the variable, but my love for creating and playing music will forever be the constant. Do those thoughts and questions about perfection still grab me? Sometimes they do. Probably because of the fear of the unknown and for wanting to do things right. As long as I do what I can control (pray, practice, produce, perform) I'll be just fine!

Please feel free to respond!!

Piano Technique

Dumbbells How does one play more fluently? How does one play with such clarity? It has to be piano technique!! When she plays, it looks flawless and effortless. I often thought and asked those questions when I was younger. The answers that I got were to "Practice your scales" and "Do a lot of Hanon exercises". They helped in a way in terms of finger strength and durability but as I got older I wanted to understand how they translated into real music.

One day I met a classical pianist named Orett Rhoden at Carnegie Hall. He was very inspiring. After the concert I had a chance to talk to him and ask a few questions, one of the questions being...Yep you guessed it (or maybe you didn't...I won't judge you...LMBO) "How do I improve my technique? Should I use Hanon?" To my surprise he said, "Hanon? No way. Use the Chopin Etudes." I was very excited that I went to the store the next day to by the Chopin Etudes. I started on the first one and I was very impatient. (By this time, I wasn't taking formal classical lessons and I was doing more jazz stuff). Despite how I felt, I learned something: Every piece or song that is learned has a specific technical challenge. The thing is as a musician, I don't play music because I want to show off that I have learned and conquered a technical challenge. I play music to play music and express myself through it. Etudes covered the bases in that not only was I learning great music, I was getting stronger and developed more dexterity and flexibility.

Another thing that I have learned about technique is that it seems like it is taught in a cookie cutter fashion like a one size fits all type of deal. However, everyone's hands and fingers are not the same size and shape. I have sizable hands and slim fingers. I can reach a major tenth effortlessly with both hands. Some folks have bigger hands, some have shorter fingers. Yes there are common threads in terms of technique with how the hand works but it won't work for everyone. I'm not saying that scales are not important. They are foundational since music comes from scale. There are some things that are important in technique such as having maximum relaxation and maximum control. When those concepts are deeply rooted in our musical makeup, how do we move on from the elementary stages and begin to make and enjoy music?

I used to think that technique primarily a physical thing. This belief changed as I learned that technique is starts in the mind. Technique is the means to an end, which is to make good music. A musician can play a piece technically flawless but there is no emotion. Bill Evans said it best:

"Technique is the ability to translate your ideas into sound through your instrument. This is a comprehensive technique...a feeling for the keyboard that will allow you to transfer any emotional utterance into it. What has to happen is that you develop a comprehensive technique and then say, Forget that. I’m just going to be expressive through the piano."

So technique starts in the mind and comes out physically and audibly. It requires a lot of patience. Impatience will do more harm than good in learning music.

I guess when a musician is trying to strengthen their fingers, there are exercises that are made for that. It's a start but it shouldn't be the end. It is a foundational tool that should be applied to something for it to be useful. How does a person get better at math? Is it by playing chess? No. It's by studying and learning math. How does a person get better at Chopin? Is it by learning Hanon? No. It's by learning and practicing Chopin. Every musical situation is different so the one size fits all approach will not suffice.

So in closing, I learned:

1. Technique starts in the mind and comes out physically and audibly.

2. Technique requires a lot of patience. Impatience will do more harm than good in learning music.

3. If I want to learn a specific thing musically, learn that thing.

4. Etudes are great to learn not only because of the technical challenge. It's because it's musical and enjoyable to listen to.

5. The piano is not a gym. It's a musical instrument.

6. Most importantly, technique is not the end. Technique is the means to the goal and the goal is to make great music.

Please share your thoughts. I'm really interested in the point of views of others. I love to learn!

"The moment you stop being a student, you become a critic. Never stop learning." - Unknown

Developing Musical Vocabulary

201405Cover Hi everyone!  I hope you are well today!  I read a very interesting article in the May 2014 issue of Downbeat Magazine called "Melodic Study, Deep Listening and the Importance of Context" by Branford Marsalis.  He was talking about his journey as a young musician studying licks from John Coltrane records, just trying to get what he could.  Art Blakey asked him "When Coltrane was a young player, what do you think he listened to, tapes of him in the future?"  Once Branford heard this, he was flummoxed.  (So was I!)  Branford states that "he had to accept the idea that Coltrane and his contemporaries didn't develop their originality by rejecting the music that came before them, but by embracing it."

I can relate to this because when I was younger, I wanted to play all of the cool stuff AND was a big music theory buff on top of that.  I can tell you the musical modes and the science behind what I was playing.  It was good, but I felt limited. Music theory is important and being musically current is important as well, but what good is it if one does not know who and what came before? Context is the key in all of this. I'm really grateful for websites like and because they show the "family tree" of musicians. I can find out who Keith Jarrett was influenced by because of these websites.

Another thing that I picked up was that in order to pick up musical vocabulary, you MUST listen to music. Music is a language and the fastest way to pick up a language is to listen. Anyone can pick up a book of licks and lines (I'm not saying those books are bad.), but it's through actively listening that one can improve at a faster rate. Learning lines, chord progressions, melodies, arrangements, etc thtough through listening intentionally will be held more dearly because it will be more personal.

Listening to the music is an awesome journey because there is always something to listen to. I'm not saying that music theory doesn't have it's place. Music theory plays a part, but as Claude Debussy says, "Art creates theory. Theory does not create art."

Check out Branford Marsalis' article in the May 2014 issue of Downbeat. Also check out and These are some great resources!! Enjoy and feel free to comment!

Just Keeping It Simple

Well we are halfway through January and I've come upon some things. (By the way, I know it's been a long time since I put up a blog! Please forgive me! Lol!). In my musical journey, I've checked out many different theories and methods to improve musicianship. Most of them are great and they give great insight on different things from music theory to technique. One thing to keep in mind is that with all of this knowledge and insight, these things are a means to an end. The end is to make music. Music is art for the ears and a musician should never forget that. So what I am doing is that I am listening to more and more music for the experience. Music is a language so why not understand and improve musical vocabulary by listening to music. Since this switch, I have experienced exponential growth in creativity and the language. I didn't discount music theory in this. It has it's place. I use theory to identify what I am hearing and playing. The average listener won't understand theoretical aspect of music like (C# 7 flat 9), but they sure can relate to music sounding good and the confidence, conviction and emotion behind what is being played. This leads me to another thing. I used to be under this thing where I tried to listen to one artist that I like for a month. It was cool but I realized that this wasn't for me. I view music as food. Sometimes I will have the same food for days because that's what I want. Other times, I will have different foods each moment just because. My thing is as long as I am being musically and creatively fed, I'll be satisfied. In doing this, my practice sessions are more like creative experimentation sessions. I am more fulfilled doing this. I think it is important to experience music on different levels. Just like food, some foods I will love right away. Other foods I will have to develop an acquired taste for. Sometimes I'll be in the mood for a specific food just because. I believe that all of this fortifies one key thing in music: Listening. My ears are getting bigger and bigger just because I am actively listening with intention. This paradigm shift is also shoring up my learning methods in paying attention to detail and working on things until I can't get it wrong. This is actually an amazing breakthrough for me. Try it out if you want. Don't knock it until you have tried it. If it works for you, great! If it doesn't, no worries! It's not the end of the world. Customize it to your learning method. Everyone is different so as long as it brings the best result (also as long as it is healthy mentally, physically, emotionally etc) go for it!!


A Few Nuggets...

Here are a few things that I picked up today: 1.  Where you are is just a stake in the sand in comparison to where you are going.

2.  You do not have to ask for permission to be great at what you do.

3.  If you wait for the perfect condition, you will never get anything done.

4.  Although going to school is great and getting your degree is a wonderful achievement, you do not have to learn a specific skill before you go out and be "marketable".  In music, you learn by experience.  You add skills along the way.  (This is not a pass to not practice on your own.)  You have trust in the skills that you already have and get yourself out of the way.  There is always something to improve on.  Don't beat yourself up.

5.  If you feel like you are not good enough, then you will never go out to play music.  If you don't go out to play music, then no one will hear what you have to offer musically.

6.  Playing along with other musicians will increase your progress and will increase accountability.

7.  Have fun playing music and relax.

8.  Network, network, network!!

Put these nuggets to good use!  Onward and upward!!

Rehearsal With The Verve Jazz Ensemble

Today was a great day!  I really enjoyed the opportunity to rehearse with the Verve Jazz Ensemble in NYC today.  It was a lot of fun.  It was straight ahead jazz with their special arrangements.  I was somewhat reserved since it was a brand new environment.  I didn't want to rock the boat.  I wanted to be a team player and be complimentary.  During the first break, the drummer Josh came to me and said, "Go ahead!! Let 'er rip!!".  That was the green light!  So on the next few tunes, I opened up a whole lot more and I could tell that the rest of the band was into it. The more I played, the more comfortable I became.  It was an awesome experience!  I also got some great words of wisdom from the pianist, Matt. (I am subbing for him in December.)  It felt great to play with other musicians at a very high level.  I am so grateful for this opportunity!!  More to follow!!  Onward and upward!!!Image

A Step of Faith

Today I did something really special.  I started on my first solo piano album.  I'm pretty excited about what's going on!  I recorded six tunes that I really liked, 2 of them being originals.  I feel at peace that I am doing this.  I've been told by family, friends and loved ones I should do something.  They were right.  More to follow...Forward and upward!!!! image

Musical Literacy

Lately, I have been learning more and more that music IS a language.  Yes, it is a saying which can come off as a cliche, however it still holds true.  I have been working on my sight reading a lot lately.  I can read music and learn a piece when I have to.  The one thing that I want to improve is my sight reading.  Think about it.  When you go to the doctor's office and you see a magazine that appeals to you, you just take it up and read it.  You probably haven't seen the magazine before but you still read it AND you understand it.  I want my sight reading to be that way as well.  Playing music is like speaking a language, writing music is like typing an email (or this blog), so reading music on sight should be like going to Barnes and Noble to read through books that catches your interest.  It is a humbling experience but it is worth it.  I can sight read hymns pretty well but I need to branch out and challenge myself with different styles of music.  At the end of it all, I want to be fluent in the language of music, always adding vocabulary to what I already know!

Pure Intentions

I remember when my daughter was born in 2012. It was a joyous occasion. I'm thinking, "WOW!! I'm actually a Dad". I had all these plans in my head in how I was going to be a great role model for her, how she will love music as much as I do and how she will be a great pianist like her Daddy and singer like her Mom. Even though those thoughts were great, a reality hit me and it hit me really hard. The reality was that I wasn't going to be able to play out as much as I would like because I have the little one. With my wife going back to work, I had to take care of her during the day (and no I wasn't being "Mr. Mom". I'm a father. I'm supposed to take care of my child. It's a God-given responsibility that I take very seriously.) I knew going in that my practice time would not be as much as it was in the past. I maneuvered past that by practicing while she was taking naps. It was good for some time but as she got older, the naps got shorter so I had to really make the most of the time that I had. (I was really grateful that I read the book "The Musician's Way" before hand). I had to make continuous adjustments.

During this process, I had to question my intentions with music. (I am going somewhere with this.) I sat down at thought to myself, "Why am I doing this? Is it for money? (Music is my passion and my vocation in that order) Competition? Bragging rights? Or do I really love music from the bottom of my heart?" I asked myself this question everyday because I felt like the world was passing me by. Don't get me wrong, I love being a father. I would love that my daughter and any future children that I will have with my wife see me as a great Dad and a great musician. I just didn't know how those two aspects would connect. I knew that practice is the lifeblood of the musician and it is a means to an end. I was practicing for something great in the future.

I realized one day that in this season that I was practicing for me and for no one else. I had to be conscious of that. God gave me a gift and He wants me to use it the best way possible. I learned patience, self-control, attention to detail. I also learned how my mind works in practicing. (Slow and steady is the way to go! Mindless repetition is a waste of time.) I learned to practice and I went back to my fundamentals to reinforce my foundation. Now I am a much better and seasoned musician for it. I am more ready for any opportunity to make music.

Now that my daughter is about 15 months, I felt that God released me to go out and play more. I am glad for every opportunity to play more than ever before. My passion is still here and heightened. I believe that this time was used to hone my craft and skill in a more intense way. There are no regrets looking back at all!! There is so much that I want to do musically and I know it will be done. It's still a journey. I believe that God is the great orchestrater, composer and arranger in my life and I am just sight-reading along the way. I know that I will make God, my wife, my daughter, my family and friends proud. So is it safe to say that I love music, love playing music and everything else that has to do with music? I really love music and it really comes from a pure place!