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TIPS

Feel free to come back often to this page where I add my thoughts and/or quotes from writers that help us to become better performers and human beings.

Happines & Unhappiness. October 2, 2011
How to Be Successful. September 26, 2011
Making Mistakes. July 12, 2011
Six Golden Rules for Conquering Performance Anxiety, by David Leisner. February 24, 2009
Laughing at oneself. November 9, 2008
A new measure of well-being from a happy little kingdom. November 25, 2007
How to take advantage of our time. November 5, 2007
On Creating. October 31, 2007
Enthusiasm. October 27, 2007
Accepting Others. October 26, 2007
Having Will. October 20, 2007
The Beatitudes. October 19, 2007
Live with a purpose. October 17, 2007
War Quotes. October 16, 2007
Three great people. October 15, 2007
Peace Quotes. October 14, 2007
Hope Quotes. October 13, 2007
Kindness Quotes. July 15, 2007
Being useful to others. July 9, 2007
Fantasy and reason. July 4, 2007
Thinking in music. July 2, 2007
Complaining Less. April 18, 2007
Character is more important than talent. April 15, 2007
Street musicians. April 8, 2007
Knowing ourselves. April 7, 2007
Doing. April 6, 2007
Giving. April 5, 2007
Memories in a tour. April 1, 2007
Becoming disciples. March 27, 2007
Guidelines to try our ideas. March 21, 2007
Awareness. March 16, 2007
We are the light of the world. March 10, 2007
On being creative. March 6, 2007
Our emotions and behavior depend on our thoughts. February 25, 2007
The cause of our troubles. February 23, 2007
Learning from our experiences. February 22, 2007
Power in character. February 21, 2007
Forgive. February 20, 2007
Don't let external things distress you. February 19, 2007
Sign of spiritual maturity. February 18, 2007
Desire and Determination. February 11, 2007
Ideas and progress. February 10, 2007
Loving and being human. February 9, 2007
Meaning and purpose. February 7, 2007
What speaks louder. January 26, 2007
Experiences, trying, dreaming, and attitude. January 25, 2007
Believing, hoping, giving. January 21, 2007
Learning, asking questions. January 19, 2007
Being humble, thinking. January 17, 2007
Action. January 15, 2007
Creating art. January 12, 2007
Achieving excellence. January 11, 2007
Chasing our dreams. January 10, 2007
Avoid gluttony. January 7, 2007
Where our thinking takes place. November 12, 2006
Our magic thoughts. November 8, 2006
Goethe's quotes. November 4, 2006
Determination. October 31, 2006
Tenacity. October 13, 2006
Always keep learning. September 28, 2006
Habits for a healthy performance. September 17, 2006
Shostakovich on composing. September 12, 2006
Skills for life. September 11, 2006
Diligence and ease of playing. September 5, 2006
Music quotes. September 2, 2006
Being persistent in our goals. September 1, 2006
Controlling our destiny. August 28, 2006
Discipline. August 25, 2006
Using our talents to the fullest. August 24, 2006
Qualities of people who realize their dreams. August 23, 2006
Happiness, virtue, character. August 22, 2006
Wisdom. August 16, 2006
Patience. August 12, 2006
Wrong ideals. August 11, 2006
Our attitude. August 10, 2006
Organizing our time. August 9, 2006
Joyful living, being creative. August 8, 2006
Good people are a blessing to others. August 6, 2006
Persistence, being creative. August 4, 2006
Have a quiet mind. August 1, 2006
Skill, diligence, and patience. July 31, 2006

Happines & Unhappiness. October 2, 2011

The old saying, "there's a time for everything under the sun", can be applied to our lives. To me it means that it's wise to be open and accept what happens, even if we don't like it. We've learned to be happy if something happens as we wished and unhappy if the result is against our wish. Happiness is sought and unhappiness avoided. Life, in that way, can be compared to a race where only those who become happy can win. The key to living a peaceful life is to accept good and bad moments as they come without harboring negative feelings. The time we spend enjoying life is great, but we should also learn that suffering, unhappiness and death are also part of life and we should accept them without complaining. In this world happiness is not permanent. We can only enjoy moments of it. We can't trap it and put it in a bottle for us. What we can do instead is to be fully engaged in the moment. We know that time is an illusion and only the moment exists, nothing more. We experience peace in our souls only when we accept each moment and live it fully.

How to Be Successful. September 26, 2011

Shakespeare stated that to get success we need to:

1) Know more than others
2) Work more than others
3) Expect less than others

It has been proven over and over again that knowledge plus relentless work lead us straight to achieving our goals. In a LiveScience.com article by Robert Britt, "Is Einstein the last great genius?", he states, "A 35-year study in 2006, which looked at mathematically gifted children to see what they ended up doing with their lives, revealed the ingredients of a great and productive mind: cognitive abilities, educational opportunities, interest, and plain old hard work. Not everyone who starts out smart ends up brilliant." Let's see some people who have achieved great results:
1. St. Paul (yes, the evangelist). He stated in I Corinthians 15:10: "I worked harder than all of them." In fact, Christianity wouldn't have spread throughout the world without St. Paul's hard work. 2. Will Smith (a Hollywood actor). He stated: I have less talent, but I work harder than anyone in Hollywood. And it pays off. His movies are the most rentable. Let's learn from others and get to work harder than anyone.

Making Mistakes. July 12, 2012

The educational system punishes those who make mistakes and rewards those who do a perfect job. I remember that when I failed one class in high school it was shown in red ink in my record notes. What message does that send us? That we're not allowed to make mistakes. Performers strive not to make mistakes, but often do. Some go so far as to focus their practice and performance on not making mistakes, but they forget the idea that live performance is a gift, a time to communicate a message and inspire the audience in a magic moment. The great composers/improvisers make lots of mistakes in their live performances; however, they transform those slight mistakes in precious jewels, adjusting them quickly to create new ideas, phrases, harmonies, rhythms, repeating them again so that the listeners get used to them and make them think they’re part of the music. Think also about this: The greatest classical music is for orchestra. Do you know that orchestras also make mistakes? Yes. Many times. But the real art is in disguising them, flowing with them and going on as if nothing has happened. The CD recordings make us believe that the great performers don’t make mistakes. Yes . They do, but with grace and style. Most CD’s are full with punch-ins and inserts. I’ve gone to concerts by Manuel Barrueco and John Williams, who are in the small number of great guitarists that play nearly perfectly, and they make mistakes. One of the most convincing, musical and inspiring great guitarists I’ve heard is Alvaro Pierri. He makes mistakes, but he takes us to a magic world with his interpretations. Again, the real point in performing is communication and inspiration. Going to another area, discoveries and innovations are made only after many mistakes and trials. Scientists spend countless hours experimenting, changing their approach, observing and making errors. Olympic athletes prepare for 4 years and if you’ve watched the Olympics, how many of them make mistakes? Many; even those who win. The difference dwells in one’s beliefs and mental attitude. To people who are close to God and to their spiritual ideals and goals, being perfect means accepting ourselves as we are; rejoicing and being inspired in the only moment that exists: Now. To performers and composers it means that all music that we play or compose is a miracle of creation because it comes from our souls. It’s our expression of our understanding of the world and what we believe and experience. So, let’s make mistakes. We’re all humans and children of God, who gave us the gift of creativity. However, that creativity carries with it some setbacks: we will make mistakes. Creative people make lots of mistakes and people who are the opposite, who live by the rule and don’t create, get mad at creative and daring people. Let’s not judge creative people. Let them dream, create, experiment. Without them the world would be a pitiful place.

Six Golden Rules for Conquering Performance Anxiety, by David Leisner. February 24, 2009

Performance anxiety can begin so innocently. First you notice someone in the front row tapping his feet. You wonder to yourself whether you're really maintaining a steady beat. Then someone else whispers something to her neighbor, and you worry that perhaps your hair is disheveled or your tie is crooked, or maybe you're making those funny grimaces again that you thought you'd conquered. Worse yet, they are probably discussing how strange or inappropriate your interpretation is, or they are commenting on how many notes you are missing (you are missing a lot by now). Oh, your teacher is really going to yell at you. And your girlfriend or boyfriend is going to be very disappointed. Your students aren't going to know what to say to you because this is going so badly. Your hands are shaking or sweaty or cold. Maybe you're not cut out for this stuff after all...
Sound familiar? Believe me, you're not alone. Performance anxiety affects almost everyone, from the beginner to the most seasoned professional. It is truly remarkable what paranoid ingenuity most of us generate during performance in order to defeat ourselves.
It all begins when our minds wander. Some distraction, usually minor, occurs, and we become less and less able to concentrate. The results are nervousness, memory lapses, technical errors and general discomfort with and, ultimately, fear of performing. The whole mess can often be avoided quite simply by thinking a few essential thoughts before going on stage. A few years ago, after experiencing a string of unpleasant performances much like the description above, I did a lot of soul-searching about what kinds of thoughts and feelings were distracting me in performance and what advice I could give myself to counteract them. The result was Six Golden Rules that summarize issues crucial to successful concentration in performance.
I meditate on these a few minutes before going on stage. Ever since the beginning of this practice, I have had very few concentration lapses in concert and have found performing to be far more fun and satisfying than ever. In addition, my students and all those with whom I have shared these ideas have had similar benefits, and have been astonished at how quickly their performance anxiety dissolved.

GOLDEN RULE ONE
Before performing, you must first remind yourself that you have practiced to the best of your ability. You have used your practicing skills in the most effective way you know at this time. True, your playing can always be better, but given all the circumstances that have led to this moment, you have, in fact, done your best.
Now the time to practice has passed. Rather, you are going to use your "automatic pilot," which you have been training during practice sessions. The automatic pilot (a.p.) is at work, for example, when you learn the fingering for a piece. When you repeat and reinforce the new patterns, the a.p. retains them, so that when you go on to practicing, say, dynamics, you don't have to think too hard about the fingering.
The most comforting aspect of the a.p. is that it works all by itself. It is indeed automatic. So when it is time for you to perform, all you need to do is trust your a.p. to do most of your work for you. No effort or thought is required to bring back all that you have practiced. It will be there for you.

GOLDEN RULE TWO
Do not judge what just happened or is about to happen. Self-judgment during a performance is futile because it takes you out of the present and into the past or future and destroys the natural flow of your thoughts and physical actions. Whether the judgment is positive or negative, it introduces a verbal aspect into an activity that is most successful when it is non-verbal. Reserve judgment for after the performance, preferably after you have listened to other people's reactions.
Rather than judge your playing, simply observe it without verbal description, and motivate your intentions. When you are about to make a crescendo, for example, intend to do it and then feel it as you are doing it. There is nothing verbal about this process. You are, rather, putting intention into action - that is, motivating.

GOLDEN RULE THREE
Do not second-guess any audience member's reaction to your playing. During a performance most of us feel quite certain we know exactly what the responses to our playing are by our teachers or students or colleagues, boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse, critic or some illustrious musician we happen to spot in the audience. More often than not, these thoughts prove to be completely, ludicrously inaccurate and only serve to further remove us from the moment and the music.
An example: I was once playing an informal house concert, with no more than fifteen people in the audience. As soon as I came out to perform, I noticed one person who looked familiar, but whom I could not identify. For most of the first piece, I was not thinking about the music, but rather about who he was. Finally I concluded that he was a respected vocal coach and accompanist I once met briefly. He was undoubtedly going to listen to the Schubert lieder arrangements on my program with an acute perception of detail and, ultimately, I was sure, with disdain. Not only during the Schubert, but throughout the entire concert, I was obsessed with thoughts like these. Not surprisingly, the whole experience was quite unpleasant for me. Afterward, when he came to speak to me, I discovered that this so-called vocal coach was, in fact, a bassist, and he had nothing but enthusiastic praise for my performance.
Later I thought, "what an incredible waste of energy!" How remarkable it is that the vast resources of one's imagination can be used for such futile, self-destructive mind-games! You probably have had similar experiences. Trying to imagine what someone in the audience is thinking about your playing is useless and distracting. Please yourself only.

GOLDEN RULE FOUR
Be on stage, not in the audience. Be in the giving mode, not the receiving one. Be in the music, in the moment. These are three ways of saying more or less the same thing. You cannot be performer and listener at the same time. Leave the response to the audience. Your task is to communicate to the listener what you have practiced, thought about and felt. The most effective way of accomplishing this is by being present in the moment and not by dwelling on any moment that is past or one that has not yet occurred. A good example of this is when you are reading a piece of music that is familiar to you and your eyes follow the notes at a natural, steady pace. The reading feels easy, and your music-making is accurate and relaxed. This is the kind of forward flow that is desirable in performance.

GOLDEN RULE FIVE
Single out one aspect of your playing that is the top priority among things you need to be reminded of at this time. Think about this not when you are performing, but before you go on stage, when you are thinking about the other five Golden Rules. Some people, for instance, may wish to emphasize posture. Some might need to play with less pressure, while others may need a reminder to play more boldly. The variety of issues to consider here is infinite, as they are specific to the individual and they may evolve over time, depending on what is top priority at the moment. Choosing more than one item to consider, however, would only burden your abilities to concentrate, so choose carefully.

GOLDEN RULE SIX
Enjoy! Don't forget that your performance is the time when you can finally share with your listeners what you have worked so hard in the practice room to achieve. This is a time of joy and not a time for correcting errors or other faults. Players tend to be too self-critical in performance. The practice room is the place for that. The concert hall is the place for celebrating the music. Let your emotions for the music be present. Don't allow minor details to obscure your feelings about the music. Let your excitement for the music be present. Let the adrenaline and your genuine lively passion for the music come through.

REVIEW BEFORE PERFORMING
These are my six Golden Rules. I recommend that you look at them five to ten minutes before going on stage. Think about what each one means to you as an individual. As you look at Rule Three, for instance, you might think about specific people who might be in the audience and, one by one, remind yourself that you are not going to second-guess their opinions about your playing.
Do this little meditation for just a few minutes and then get back to your warm-ups or stretching exercises or whatever you like to do just before playing. Don't give these ideas another thought. Then go give the best performance of your life.

THE 6 GOLDEN RULES SUMMARIZED
1. You have practiced to the best of your ability. Trust your automatic pilot to do most of your work for you.
2. Do not judge what just happened or will happen. Only motivate and observe (non-verbally).
3. Do not second-guess any audience member's reaction to your playing, as your perception will probably be inaccurate. Please yourself only.
4. Be in the music, in the moment. Be on stage, not in the audience. Be in the giving mode, not the receiving one.
5. Single out one aspect of your playing that is the top priority among things you need to be reminded of at this time.
6. Enjoy! Let your emotions for the music be present. Let your excitement for the music be present.

Laughing at oneself. November 9, 2008

Charles Shultz said, "If I were given the opportunity to present a gift to the next generation, it would be the ability for each individual to learn to laugh at himself."It would be nice if we relearn to laugh as children laugh. When we learn to take what happens in our lives as a learning experience and laugh at it, then we will feel content with life. And with contentment comes the joy of knowing that everything is well. If things don't go our way, then let us rejoice in knowing that there are other ways, as many as there are different life forms on this planet.

A new measure of well-being from a happy little kingdom. November 25, 2007

Imagine all countries ruled by the law of love and happiness! Well, there's a country experimenting with happiness. An interesting article by Andrew C. Revkin appeared in the NY Times issue of October 4, 2005. Please, read it, but if you don't have the time, this is a summary: "In 1972, concerned about the problems afflicting other developing countries that focused only on economic growth, Bhutan's newly crowned leader, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, decided to make his nation's priority not its G.D.P. but its G.N.H., or Gross National Happiness. Bhutan, the king said, needed to ensure that prosperity was shared across society and that it was balanced against preserving cultural traditions, protecting the environment and maintaining a responsive government. The king, now 49, has been instituting policies aimed at accomplishing these goals."

How to take advantage of our time. November 5, 2007

Acoording to Mara Eugenia Ros:
- Know your goals and specific objectives.
- Always recharge your motivation batteries.
- Cultivate, and if needed, reeducate your decision capacity.
- Classify your goals.
- Set step by step deadlines and learn to reprogram yourself if for any reason you don't accomplish your goal.
- Learn to say no.
- Don't postpone for tomorrow what you can do today.
- Try to have all the information and material need for your work.
- Acquire control of your emotions so they can help you and motivate.

On Creating. October 31, 2007

The artist must create a spark before he can make a fire and before art is born, the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation. Auguste Rodin

Enthusiasm. October 27, 2007

Enthusiasm is the key to any achievements. We cannot do much without it. Every person who has succeeded in making their goals true has done it because of enthusiasm. Do we lack enthusiasm? Then let's look back to our childhood and try to find out what made us happy, what gave us life, what gave us curiosity. Then let's try to follow that. We'll see the difference in our life. Much of our unhappiness lies in not being able to follow our childhood dreams. If only we become adult children. That would be the key to bring back our enthusiasm.

Accepting Others. October 26, 2007

Here I continue writing about peace. If we want to be pacifiers, then we should start with ourselves, as I mentioned before. The secret to have peace with others lies simply in understanding, accepting and not offending others. If we offend somebody by doing something our own way, then let's try to do that in another way. It's simple, but difficult, because we always want to do our own will. Here lies if a person is humble enough to make a change.

Having Will. October 20, 2007

Since we're born we have an innate will to live. Will is a powerful tool we have at our disposal in order to survive, protect ourselves and realize our goals. All people who have realized their dreams have done it because they had a will to do it. Without it we wouldn't do much. Our will is developed by the faith we have. As Jesus said, "if you had enough faith...you could do even more things than me". If we only had the will... And Jesus talked well about those who believed they were going to be healed; and he healed them because they believed and willed to believe. I think that they imagined themselves being healed, and by their faith and the power of God they were healed.
Now to music. For composing and performing music we should do just the same: "We must will", as the great conductor and pianist David Barenboim put it during a masterclass. To really communicate music we must will to communicate it. Simple, but full of meaning. Is there a crescendo? What's its meaning? Then we must will to communicate the crescendo just as the music asks for it, not as we want, because we're just instruments of music. In fact, we're using an instrument to be an instrument of music. Every note, phrase or idea, must be willed in order to have true meaning.
Now let's leave the subject of music and I'll leave with these words, which I hope may resound in our ears always: Let's pray that we may develop our will, especially our will to be instruments of peace, hope, and kindness both to ourselves and others.

The Beatitudes. October 19, 2007

Here are some of the most comforting words that Jesus said. They are full of hope and blessings. I hope we can be any of these people Jesus is referring to.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Poor in spirit does not refer to being poor in material things. Your spirit is what matter, not your riches or lack of riches.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. To me, this deals with the way with regret our wrong past deeds. If we do so, we're granted pardon and we're able to have a better life.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Only the humble in spirit are considered to be children of God.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Let us defend justice and defend the deprived people. By so doing we offer a better life to many.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. What we give comes back to us. We can receive mercy only if we are kind, understanding and full with empathy towards others.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. The pure in heart don't have selfish motives in whatever they do. They think, plan and act according to God's purpose for each of his children.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Peace begins with ourselves, then with others. Let's solve our own conflicts and accept ourselves before trying to solve other people's conflicts. We belong to each other; moreover, we cannot change anybody. Peace begins with the acceptance of diversity in thoughts, cultures, environments, races, and ages. Let us be an instrument of peace where we are.

Live with a purpose. October 17, 2007

To live without a purpose is not to live fully. Goethe
A life without purpose is a premature death. Goethe

War Quotes. October 16, 2007

This is a good time to ponder about this sarcastic or serious quotes because several countries are at war and some others are getting ready for it. Life is sacred and war is death. It's so simple!
War is a massacre among people who don’t each other. It’s for the sake of people who do know each other but don’t kill each other.
No to terrorism. Let’s fight for peace!
People who fight for peace always invent a war.
In a war only wins the same army: death.
Wars are invented by whimsical people and are followed by ignorant people.
To kill a person in order to defend an ideology is not to defend an ideology, it’s to kill a person.
War is the imposition of a power that wants glory, no matter who’s killed.Civilians are always militarized! Are military people going to be civilized some day?
War is the way human beings have of demonstrating their imperfection.
I don’t know how the 3rd world war will be, I only know that it will be with stones and spears.
The most unjust war is better than the most just war.

Three great people. October 15, 2007

There are three people whom I greatly admire because they lived to make the world better. They all understood what was their mission on earth and they lived, not to satisfy their selfish goals, but to serve humanity. I hope that you and me may learn from them.
Jesus Christ: He was our savior and gave his life to be able to offer us eternal life. He constantly healed and forgave people, offered hope and served his people.
Gandhi: He sought peace and freedom for his country, but only after he attained it for himself. His example still teaches us that only through goodness can evil be defeated; and that supports Jesus' statement about 'turning the other cheek'.
Mother Teresa: She lived to serve and to offer care for the poorest people.

Peace Quotes. October 14, 2007

To attain peace, I think that it should begin with ourselves, then with others. Try to ponder on these quotes from a few of our great men.
An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind. Gandhi
Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding. Emerson
One cannot subdue a man by holding back his hands. Lasting peace comes not from force. David Borenstein
It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passion, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace. Andre Gide
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. Mother Teresa

Hope Quotes. October 13, 2007

Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working. Anonymous
In all things it is better to hope than to despair. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Never let go of hope. One day you will see that it all has finally come together. What you have always wished for has finally come to be. You will look back and laugh at what has passed and you will ask yourself... How did I get through all of that? Anonymous
Hope is the dream of a soul awake. French Proverb
Hope never abandons you; you abandon it. George Weinberg
When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better. Anonymous
Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. Dale Carnegie
The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Barbara Kingsolver

Kindness Quotes. July 15, 2007

I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.Stephan Grellet
Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile. Mother Teresa

Being useful to others. July 9, 2007

Goethe said: What is my life if I am no longer useful to others?
One of the purposes of all religions is to teach us to serve others. We live in communities that are interdependent. We receive and we should give. We have and we should share. That's the core of community and unselfish living. It doesn't mean we have to forget about ourselves; we have to love ourselves in order to love others. Also, we have to understand ourselves in order to understand others. Then we can realize that life doesn't revolve around just ourselves, but that each man and woman is unique and special and also is entitled to seeking well-being and happiness. The more we love others, the more we love ourselves, because we can see each other as in a mirror. In fact, the greeting that the Incas had we they encountered each other was, instead of "hi", "I am another you". By being useful to others, we find not only happiness for ourselves, but we give it to others.

Fantasy and reason. July 4, 2007

Goya, the great artist, said, "Fantasy, united with reason, is mother of all arts and origin of its marvels."

Thinking in music. July 2, 2007

Einstein said: If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. ... I get most joy in life out of music.
Even the famous Einstein wanted to be a musician. And he did play the violin! But he spent his life mostly by himself, alone, thinking and trying to understand the universe. Maybe the universe is too much for a human being; so, let's create and play music. In that way we may become, not knowers of the mysteries of the universe, but creators in the infinite universe.

Complaining Less. April 18, 2007

"We would all be better off if the energy that people are using in complaining was spent in contemplative prayer, and with building up a positive attitude of loving kindness, and compassion, and mercy toward others." Edward McCorkell
Today I learned a lot by reading this quote. Imagine that happening now! The world would change! But the reality is that we keep complaining and remain unhappy with our jobs, our relatives, our neighbors, etc, as if life has mistreated us. Imagine all the complaining and hatred that Cho Seung-Hui had when he killed 32 people and himself this last Monday morning! Yes. Constant complaining leads to hatred; and constant hatred can lead to negative actions. Be careful and watch yourself when you are complaining, and instead, focus on praying, loving, and being merciful.

Character is more important than talent. April 15, 2007

"Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are, to some extent, a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it, piece by piece -by thought, choice, courage and determination." H. Jackson Brown
All of us have talents or abilities that we can refine and use to serve others. However, think about this: First build a good character and let it shape and guide your talents. Don't let your talents get so important in your life that they shape your character. We've read and heard about many great people with enormous talents who have used them to hate, destroy and kill. Be careful with your gifts. They were given to you to bless others, not to harm others. To avoid using your talents for bad purposes, take care of your character as a gardener takes care of his flowers. How is your character built? Like this:
1. Thoughts convert into actions.
2. Actions convert into habits.
3. Habits convert into your character.

Street musicians. April 8, 2007

Yesterday, Gene Weingarten published in the Washington Post an interesting article, Pearls before breakfast.To me, it's a tribute to street musicians and to those musicians who have performed in the subways and public places of major cities around the world. Imagine Joshua Bell, one of the great violinists of this generation, performing with his Stradivari (worth 3.5 million dollars) in one of Washington, DC subway stations! Yes. It was an experiment by the Washington Post to see if people, noticing a great artist, stopped during rush hour to listen to the music and gave away money. No, most people didn't stop. Just a few people stopped and gave money and one person recognized him (she'd seen him in a free concert at the Library of Congress), had pity, and gave him $20. Well, maybe she thought that he was striving to make a living both at the library and at the subway. Now think about all the classical musicians who have to perform for free or almost free at public libraries and other places to guarantee an audience! Do you want to know how much money he made? No. He didn't make $10,000. He made an average of $40 an hour.

Knowing ourselves. April 7, 2007

"As long as you are trying to be something other than what you actually are, your mind wears itself out. But if you say 'This is what I am, it is a fact that I am going to investigate, understand,' then you can go beyond." Krishnamurti
We really need to know who we are, where we are, what we are, how we are, and when we are living, to understand how to proceed with our lives. Only with that understanding we can accomplish our mission and have an abundant life.
Who we are: What is your character? What are your beliefs?
Where we are: Your environment shapes your world view.
What we are: What have you become up to now? Your reactions to your experiences mold you.
How we are: How do you feel inside? Content? Regretful? Happy? Lucky? Shameful? Does life owe you? Or do you owe life?
When we are living: Do you understand the period you're living in the history of the world, the history of your country, and the history of your town and neighborhood? Do you understand what you can do during your lifetime to advance love and solidarity in your neighborhood and town, your country, and the world?

Doing. April 6, 2007

"Whatever you would do, begin it. Boldness has courage, genius and magic in it." Goethe
A genius is just a diligent person who has an idea. By constant work, study, analysis, and trials, the idea is brought to life. There's no lazy genius. They refine their skills and knowledge every day and don't stop until their dreams are achieved. Do you have an idea? It's easy to procrastinate its birth; and it's easier to forget it. For instance, a composer who has a great idea for a composition, but is slow to begin it, forgets it. That's a shame because one never knows who was going to be blessed by that music and we bring ideas to bless others. I'd like you to consider this experiment: Try reserving at least one hour each day to create an idea that blesses others; then, bring it to life every day little by little, but with boldness and persistence, until it's achieved. Then spread it.

Giving. April 5, 2007

"A better life rises from an increased capacity to give. Real giving makes real living, creating a capacity to give something that no one else can." Charlie Jones.
It has been tested by thousands of people. Giving is a blessing and leads to a fulfilled life. It�s a mystery that requires faith and action. Of course, to be able to give you have to have something, and that can be many things: time for people who need listening and caring, food to people who are starving, help to people who are suffering, blessings to and prayers for people who are in difficult times, money to people in financial need, etc. There are many ways to give and Jesus said that it�s better to give than to receive. Everyday we can give. Do you have a gift? Do you have a dream? Don�t hold it for you alone. Spread it and bless others. In fact, only those who care and give will enter the kingdom of God. Jesus didn�t mention that those who just went to church would be saved; he mentioned that the saved would be those who feed the hungry, visit those in jail, and care for others.

Memories in a tour. April 1, 2007


Whenever I go out to perform I meet new people. This is what I like most about performing in different places. However, this weekend in Vineland, NJ, I met friends I grew up with that I hadn't seen for about 20 years. Juan and Blanca Mej�a have been always in my memories as two musicians who inspired me when I was a kid. And they're still doing the same thing they've been doing for many years, singing and playing Christian music. Then I thought to myself, I'd better be the best I can with persistence, just in case I'm also influencing some people.

Becoming disciples. March 27, 2007


If you want to have success in your area of expertise, follow these guidelines that Tony Robbins recommends:
1. Find someone who's already getting the results you want.
2. Find out what that person is doing.
3. Do the same things and you'll get the same results.
These guidelines are very old indeed. For instance, if you wanted to become a painter during the renaissance, in exchange for lessons, you had to work for the master all day. By watching him, following his guidelines, imitating him, etc, you grew, learned, and acquired skills every day. Then you found your voice and became a painter. For me, that's the best school for artists: Be at your master's feet. In music it's difficult to find masters like that nowadays. Why? Because the master (in many countries) dedicates just one hour for you every week. Let's go now to sports. Athletes always have a trainer. Even if they're professionals and even if you're Michael Jordan! The best go to the Olympics, but they go with their trainers. So they get feedback every moment they're practicing and performing. If you find a master, you're lucky. Volunteer to do things for him/her and maybe he/she will accept you as a disciple, not as another college student who just does enough. Volunteer more. Work more. Imitate more. Learn more. Ask more. Be more curious. Create more. Then you'll be able to become an artist.

Guidelines to try our ideas. March 21, 2007

Do you have an idea or a project? Do you want to try it? According to Seth Godin, these guidelines can help us accomplish our goals:
1. So, what does this mean to you?
2. Make something worth making.
3. Sell something worth talking about.
4. Believe in what you do because you may have to do it for a long time before it catches on.
5. Don't listen to the first people who give you feedback.
6. Don't give up. Not for a while, anyway.

Awareness. March 16, 2007

According to Wikipedia, "awareness comprises a human's or an animal's perception and cognitive reaction to a condition or event. Awareness does not necessarily imply understanding, just an ability to be conscious of, feel or perceive". If we observe, hear, and feel carefully what is around us, our lives are going to change completely. Everything becomes a miracle. Awareness of our presence in this wonderful world, created perfectly for our existence and survival, will make us be thankful to God for having created us and made us participants in the great mystery of the universe. However, most of the time we are not aware of this. Instead, we are focused on our troubles, which are just our misconceived perceptions of experiences which were originally created to teach us and take us to a higher level in our spiritual journey. Let us not forget to be aware and thankful all the time. Moreover, let us be curious. So curious that God, amazed at our inquiries, may opt to give us more hints and understanding. What is the opposite of being aware? For me it's boredom. According to Soren Kierkegaard, boredom is the root of all evil - the despairing refusal to be oneself. If boredom is the root of all evil, then awareness is the root of all goodness. Let us be then aware. If we are angry, be aware and see why. If we are happy, be aware and see why. And on goes the list. Awareness brings freedom.

We are the light of the world. March 10, 2007

Every day we influence others through our lives. Our behavior shines so strong that it creates an environment for goodness or evil. Let us remember the words of Jesus: "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16).

On being creative. March 6, 2007

No great thing is created suddenly. Epictetus
It is better to create than to be learned, creating is the true essence of life. Barthold Georg Niebuhr
Creativity - like human life itself - begins in darkness. Julia Cameron
The chief enemy of creativity is "good" sense. Pablo Picasso
Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules. Creativity is a natural extension of our enthusiasm. Earl Nightingale
Conditions for creativity are to be puzzled; to concentrate; to accept conflict and tension; to be born everyday; to feel a sense of self. Erich Fromm

Our emotions and behavior depend on our thoughts. February 25, 2007

Our emotions and behavior are not dependent on what is going on around us in our environment. We can change mouthwashes and still be unhappy. We can use the new shampoo and still feel lonely. We can take a pill and still lie there wide awake. The reason is that something else is at work that determines emotional and behavioral responses to life situations. The cognitive theorists suggest that this additional factor is our thoughts, or belief systems. These thoughts, or belief systems, are what I call Self-Talk. David Stoop

The cause of our troubles. February 23, 2007

The cause of our troubles is not in what is done to us, but in what we do to ourselves. The problem was not in the stimulation of modern life, but in our response to it; not in the stress, but in the straining. the straining is the misuse of the self; its cause not human design, but end-gaining. F. M. Alexander

Learning from our experiences. February 22, 2007

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. Eleanor Roosevelt

Power in character. February 21, 2007

A man's true estate or power and riches is to be in himself, not in his dwelling or position or external relations, but in his own essential character. Henry Beecher

Forgiving. February 20, 2007

These quotations on forginess were taken from the book, "Win Wellness" by the Youngbergs.

When there is a lack of forgiveness, many carry emotional baggages.
An unforgiving spirit of hostility is the root of bitterness and hate.
Forgiveness is bearing the consequences of another's wrongdoing and letting the wrongdoing go free.
True forgiveness is the beautiful fragrance which the flower sheds on the heel of the one who crushes it.
When forgiveness increases, hostility and anger decrease. When hostility increases, forgiveness decreases.
45 studies on hostility and physical health strongly indicate hostility as a risk factor for heart disease and premature death.
Effects of anger: chronic pain, lowers functioning of immune system, muscles tense up, dental and jaw problems, lack of mental concentration.
Why forgive? 1. It stops the blame and pain cycle. 2. It frees the one asking for it from blame. 3. In your own mind you recreate the guilty person from the person who hurt you to the one who needs you.

Counsels on forgiving from Eva Eger, who was at a concentration camp in Poland.
Refuse to be a hostage and prisoner of the past.
It's OK to go through anger about our past. It's not OK to get stuck in anger.
We create our own concentration camps. I have a choice of being a victim or a survivor.
Go back to the lion's den. Look the lion in the face and laugh.
The concentration camp is in your own mind and the key is in your pocket.
The captors are the real prisoners. If I would hate today, I would still be a prisoner.
Out of prison comes freedom; out of tragedy come triumph and victory.

Don't let external things distress you. February 19, 2007

If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment. Marcus Aurelius
Your mind is the most powerful energy source you possess. Thinking creates feelings, and feelings are like magnets. They attract situations that mirror those feelings. It is not that the events in life are either good or bad; it's how we think about them. If we get what we desire, we term it good; but when we don't, we label it bad. We might label a speeding ticket bad, but if it prevents an accident, it is good. It matters not whether you can see the good in it. Every time the sun rises and sets, you have confirmation that everything is happening as it should. As you breathe you are assured you are being supported. Begin to see life as supportive. Lisa Williams

Sign of spiritual maturity. February 18, 2007

Possibly the greatest sign of spiritual maturity is the ability to postpone rewards. Neil Anderson

Desire and Determination. February 11, 2007

Desire is key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal - a commitment to excellence - that will enable you to attain the success you seek. Mario Andretti

Ideas and progress. February 10, 2007

An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come. Victor Hugo
Restlessness and discontent are the first necessities of progress. Thomas Edison

Loving and being human. February 9, 2007

To be fully and authentically human, we have to be prepared to take off the armor we usually go around wearing to keep the world from hurting us. We have to be prepared to accept pain, or else we will never dare to hope or to love. Harold Kushner

Meaning and purpose. February 7, 2007

Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose. Viktor Frankl

What speaks louder. January 26, 2007

Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying. Ralph Emerson

Experiences, trying, dreaming, and attitude. January 25, 2007

There are no failures - just experiences and your reactions to them. Tom Krause
Try and fail, but don't fail to try. Stephen Kaggwa
Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be. Karen Ravn
Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character. Albert Einstein

Believing, hoping, giving. January 21, 2007

When it is darkest, men see the stars. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for mankind. Horace Mann
Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn't have it in the beginning. Mahatma Gandhi
The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving. Albert Einstein
Any life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made up of a single moment, the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is.

Learning, asking questions. January 19, 2007

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. Albert Einstein
He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever. Chinese Proverb
You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions. Naguib Mahfouz

Being humble, thinking. January 17, 2007

Those who know how to think need no teachers. Mahatma Gandhi
A man who does not think for himself does not think at all. Oscar Wilde
I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right. Albert Einstein
A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes. Mahatma Gandhi
Thought is action in rehearsal.
Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world. Goethe

Action. January 15, 2007

Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought. Henri Bergson Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in. Andrew Jackson
Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it. Goethe
Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. Japanese proverb
Thought is the seed of action. Ralph Emerson

Creating art. January 12, 2007

Art is a collarboration between God an the artist, and the less the artist does the better. Andre Gide
Art is never finished, only abandoned. Leonardo da Vinci
Art is a human activity having for its purpose the transmission to others of the highest and best feelings to which men have risen. Leo Tolstoy
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. Albert Einstein

Achieving excellence. January 11, 2007

Excellence can be obtained if you: 1. Care more than others think is wise. 2. Risk more than others think is safe. 3. Dream more than others think is practical. 4. Expect more than others think is possible.

Chasing our dreams. January 10, 2007

For better or worse, our future will be determined in large part by our dreams and by the struggle to make them real.
Organize your life around your dreams - and watch them come true.
Our life is composed greatly from dreams, from the unconscious, and they must be brought into connection with action. They must be woven together. Anais Nin

Avoid gluttony. January 7, 2007

Now that there are so many obese people, these quotes may open our eyes and remind us that we don't need to eat so much, that just a little is enough. Please read them.

In general, mankind...eats twice as much as nature requires. Benjamin Franklin
Glutton is the source of all our infirmities and the fountain of all our diseases. As a lamp is choked by a super-abundance of oil, and a fire extinguished by excess fuel, so is the natural health of the body destroyed by intemperate diet. Nathaniel Burton
Take care of your intake, physical and mental. Be careful what goes in. Every country has its immigration office...Your body is your country and there are many ports of entry. You should put immigration officers everywhere. S. Satchidananda
I saw few die of hunger. Of eating, a hundred thousand. Benjamin Franklin
As houses well stored with provisions are likely to be full of mice, so the bodies of those who eat too much are full of diseases. Diogenes
Gluttony is an emotional escape, a sign something is eating us. Peter De Vries.
Man can survive on one third of his daily food intake. The other two thirds ony benefits the health insurance and medical care industries. Steve Meyerowitz
The body and the mind are interconnected and interdependent. The body expresses the thoughts of the mind. Constantly thinking crooked thoughts will create a crooked body. If you have a happy mind, your face and body will reflect that happiness. Everybody will know something beautiful is happening within you. S. Satchidananda
We have become a society of gluttons driven by our tongues, seeking evanescent sensations to fill the void created by our unhappiness. S. Satchidananda

Where our thinking takes place. November 12, 2006

95% of our thinking takes place in our unconscious minds...Only 5% occurs in high-order consciousness...The operation of our memory and emotions occurs below our thresholds of awareness. G.Zaltman

Environment, optimism, will. November 11, 2006

Our environment influences us, but is not fatal. A human being may have control over himself...and keep himself clean in a polluted and wicked environment; he may keep his serenity in a unquiet environment.
Any help that comes from luck is precarious and inconscious. However, any help that comes from our own will is efficient and lasting. Each act of will gets us closer to luck. A conscious, systematic and intelligent work will give us always a knowledge that we will never get through inaction. A methodic and emancipated will is what we need to realize our goals.
The optimist controls his changing emotional states and should work as careful as athletes are when are training their muscles.
The secret voices that our sages talk about, the inspiration of geniuses, is just our will. Then, we should endeavor to cultivate our will, feeding it with our spirit, and applying it to the most difficult reality without letting the foreign elements influence it.

Our magic thoughts. November 8, 2006

These are some quotes from the book "The Magic Power of Thought" written by Cegama.

For a small or big endeavor, a thought should precede it.
Any act is preceded by a thought...The world history is a succession of deeds, and indirectly is a succession of good or bad thoughts.
Those who don't think by themselves, with ethical rules of positivism, cannot be called a free man.
The most sublime thought is nothing if it remains static in its brain. We should take action upon a thought or it is going to dissappear. Its most tangible form is through ideas.
When we have a thought that is beyond our self-interest and for the collective, it should be spread so that it can give fruits and bring the action that it needs.
Thought is the motor of all things.
If we get used to accept other's thoughts as superior to our thoughts, we will end up being eternal frogs seeking a king. The faculty of thinking can be destroyed just as anything that is not used.
It is possible that silence and quietness, impossible to obtain many times during the noisy day, may ease the satisfactory conexion of the thinking person and his thought.
Altruism in thought:
Those who multiply themselves doing good, end up doing good for themselves.
All who sow, gather the harvest.
It can be objected that in the world there have been many state presidents, industry magnates or leaders, in spite of their lack of generosity, have maintained themselves in their positions. This happens because they have taken care of creating vicious and addictive zones or rings through bribes, honors and concessions.
The power of thought can be augmented by a constant exercise. Brain cells than express the thought do not get tired...The brain that does not work is autodestructive and becomes stupid.
No action and laziness are always destructive for the brain.

Goethe's quotes. November 4, 2006

Please, read today these Goethe's quotes:

What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.
Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.
Difficulties increase the nearer we approach the goal.
Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes
The really unhappy person is the one who leaves undone what they can do, and starts doing what they don't understand; no wonder they come to grief.
The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.�
What is my life if I am no longer useful to others?
All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is exclusively my own.
Every second is of infinite value.
If your treat an individual ... as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.
There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight.
I love those who yearn for the impossible.
To be pleased with one's limits is a wretched state.

Determination. October 31, 2006

Our determination drives us to our goals. Read these quotes on determination:

Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough. Og Mandino
Where there's a will there's a way.
What makes the difference between wishing and realizing our wishes? Lots of things, and it may take months or years for wish to come true, but it's far more likely to happen when you care so much about a wish that you'll do all you can to make it happen. Rebecca_R Fred Rogers
The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination. Tommy Lasorda
Get up tomorrow early in the morning, and earlier than you did today, and do the best that you can. Joan of Arc
Determination is the wake-up call to the human will. Anthony Robbins
Without a firm idea of himself and the purpose of his life, man cannot live, and would sooner destroy himself than remain on earth, even if he was surrounded by bread. Dostoyevsky
Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe. Gail Devers
Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.
Some are destined to succeed, some are determined to succeed. Swami Tejomayananda
You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else. Albert Einstein
I ran and ran and ran every day, and I acquired this sense of determination, this sense of spirit that I would never, never give up, no matter what else happened. Wilma Rudolph
If you keep at it, one day something which at first appeared impossible will become merely something very difficult indeed. Danny Paradise
There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can circumvent or hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul. Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. Calvin Coolidge
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill
Little by little one walks far. Peruvian Proverb

Tenacity. October 13, 2006

Tenacity allows us to accomplish our goals and work. Here are a few quotes on tenacity:

�Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity." Louis Pasteur
"The next mile is the only one a person really has to make." Danish fur trapper's principle.
�God is with those who persevere�. Quran

Always keep learning. September 28, 2006

Here there are some reasons why we should never stop learning:
When you stop learning, stop listening, stop looking and asking questions, always new questions, then it is time to die. Lillian Smith
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. Henry Ford
The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live. Mortimer J. Adler
Learn as though you would never be able to master it; hold it as though you would be in fear of losing it. Confucius
Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow. Anthony J. D'Angelo
I had six honest serving men. They taught me all I knew. Their names were: Where, What, When, Why, How and Who. Rudyard Kipling

Habits for a healthy performance. September 17, 2006

I once took a workshop by G. Klickstein that helped me a lot in my guitar practice. Here they are:

  • Seven Habits for a Healthy Performance (by Gerald Klickstein)
    • 1. Manage your workload
      Limit total playing time; increase playing time gradually.
      Plan your practice; schedule multiple shorter sessions; avoid long sessions.
      Regulate hand-intensive, non-musical activities (computer use).
      Transport heavy instruments without straining.
      Arrive early for rehearsals and performances: be focused and warm.
    • 2. Warm-up and cool down
      Before playing, raise body temperature with warm clothing, whole-body movements.
      Play moderately at first; incrementally increase speed, volume, intensity.
      After playing, avoid hand-intensive tasks; give muscles time to rest.
    • 3. Cultivate technical ease
      Sit or stand with balanced flexibility (avoid rigidly held postures).
      Position instruments for maximum physical advantage.
      Play (and type) with joints in the middle of their ranges of motion.
      Minimize physical and mental effort: think ahead while playing.
      Develop sensitivity to excess tension (refine overall physical coordination).
    • 4. Practice mindfully
      Clarify practicer goals.
      Vary material (avoid excess repetition).
      Maintain awareness of musical content, physical movement, thoughts, emotions.
      Enhance mental-practice skills.
    • 5. Take frequent breaks
      Rest at least 10 minutes of each playing hour.
      Take breaks if tension arises or concentration falters.
      Short brake (1-5 min.); medium (5-15 min.); long (1/2 hr. or more).
      Vary break activities: active, passive, or diverting.
      Break activities should contrast with playing actions (avoid hand-intensive tasks).
    • 6. Respond to symptoms
      Fatigue: stop playing, cool down, rest.
      Pain: stop playing, rest, seek help (pain is never appropiate).
      Other symptoms: tingling, numbness, burning, weakness, loss of control, swelling.
      Cease playing before fatigue arises; rest ahead of playing.
    • 7. Put wellness first
      Be proactive.
      Manage stress and anxiety.
      Embrace sensible habits of nutrition, rest, exercise.
      Openly communicate about health issues.


    • Shostakovich on composing. September 12, 2006

      Shostakovich is one of the greatest 20th century composers. Here you can read some of his thoughts on composing.

      Shostakovich on composing:

      I'll admit that writing doesn't always come, but I'm totally against walking around looking at the sky when you're experiencing a block, waiting for inspiration to strike you. Tchaikovsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov didn't like each other and agreed on very few things, but they were of one opinion on this: you had to write constantly. If you can't write a major work, then write minor trifles. If you can't write at all, orchestrate something. I think Stravinsky felt the same way. As a rule, I hear the score and write it down in ink, finished copy -without rough drafts or studies- and I'm not saying this to brag. In the final analysis, everyone composes as best suits him... Whatyou have in your head, put down on paper. The head is a fragile vessel...
      A creative artist works on his next composition because he is not satisfied with his previous one. When he loses a critical attitude toward his own work, he ceases to be an artist...
      Is a musical concept born consciously or unconsciously? It's difficult to explain. The process of writing a new work is long and complicated. Sometimes you start writing and then change your mind. It doesn't always work the way you thought it would. If it's not working, leave the composition the way it is -and try to avoid your earlier mistakes in the next one. That's my personal view, my manner of working. Perhaps it stems from a desire to do as much as possible... I do write quickly, it's true, but I think about my music for a comparatively long time, and until it's complete in my head I don't begin setting it down. Of course, I do mistakes. Say, I imagine that the composition will have one movement, and then I see that it must be continued... And sometimes it's the reverse. I think that I've started a new symphony, when actually things come to a halt after one movement...
      During my illness I got out the score of one of my compositions. I looked it over from first note to last. I was struck by how good it was. It seemed to me that, having written it, I could feel proud and be at peace. I was overwhelmed at the idea that, of all people, I was the composer.

      Sills for life. September 11, 2006

      (Taken from a workshop that I attended at Shenandoah University)

      1. Find a mentor/coach/confident.
      2. Set goals: a) For next year b) For next 5 years c) Think BIG!
      3. Give time to all your personal spheres: Family - Personal - Work.
      4. Develop a personal contract: These are strategies or objectives related to your goals. It is very specific and written and kept where you will see it.
      5. Stretch: What are you doing to challenge yourself? Are you confident? Do you take risks? Do you just try? Remember that there is no try. There is just do or not do.
      6. Refresh: Exercise - Meditate- Rest - Have fun - Do something for you.
      7. Evaluate: Periodically read your mission and goals to know how you are doing. Ask for feedback from people you trust and you think have been successful in what you want to do. Honor your own contract, but make changes if you need. And remember, outlive your life, don't just live it!
      8. Take care of your workplace: People are first always.
      9. Time management: Make an efficient system. Determine priorities. Determine what gets done and when. Be an effective delegator. Keep current.
      10. Prioritize. Use technology intelligently. Keep meetings short and effective. Use your intuition.

      Diligence and ease of playing. September 5, 2006

      When we watch the ease with which great players perform, it seems that they have natural talents and were born just for doing that. This is far from the truth. In fact, these performers practiced so much in the first years they took their instruments that they developed a solid technique. And this solid technique, added to a great musicianship and corret interpretation, brings forth the magic in music. There is a great quote about diligence that I'd like to share with you:

      "What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence.� Samuel Johnson

      Music quotes. September 2, 2006

      This time I included a handful of excellent quotes about music. Enjoy and learn!

      "Young people can learn from my example that something can come from nothing. What I have become is the result of my hard efforts." F. J. Haydn
      "Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind." J. Brahms
      "I sit down to the piano regularly at nine-o'clock in the morning and Mesdames les Muses have learned to be on time for that rendezvous." P. I. Tchaikovsky
      "To play without passion is inexcusable!" L. V. Beethoven
      "The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul." J. S. Bach
      "Only when the form grows clear to you, will the spirit become so too." R. Schumann
      �I have learned throughout my life as a composer chiefly through my mistakes and pursuits of false assumptions, not by my exposure to founts of wisdom and knowledge.� I. Stravinsky
      �What is important for me is finding what the composer wants in the character-what is deep in the character. I see it like an empty house.� E. Marton
      "Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their opinions and lives that they have heard it." H. D. Thoreau
      "The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes - ah, that is where the art resides!" A. Schnabel
      "Music gives people a voice that is uniquely theirs. This can happen through an instrument or in the way that music helps people identify both simple and complex emotions. At its best, music transports one into a different world. When one returns to the normal world one has a greater perspective on existence." Yo-Yo Ma
      "Of course all my music teachers helped and inspired me with my clarinet, but they also taught me the nobility of working together honestly and sincerely on something greater then myself in order to share and nurture the potential for goodness and beauty inside us all." R. Stolzman
      "A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be." A. Maslow
      "The public doesn't want new music: the main thing it demands of a composer is that he be dead.� A. Honegger
      "There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats". A. Schweitzer
      "If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music." A. Einstein
      "Without music, life would be an error." F. Nietzsche
      "I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music. G. Eliot
      "My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary." M. Luther
      "Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body." O. Holmes
      "He who sings scares away his woes. Cervantes

      Being persistent in our goals. September 1, 2006

      �Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.� Karen Ravn
      �All that we are is the result of what we have thought.� Buddha
      Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.� Mark Victor Hansen
      Nothing is as real as a dream. The world can change around you, but your dream will not. Responsibilities need not erase it. Duties need not obscure it. Because the dream is within you, no one can take it away. Unknown
      �You are the embodiment of the information you choose to accept and act upon. To change your circumstances you need to change your thinking and subsequent actions.� Adlin Sinclair
      Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.� Brian Littrell
      �I would much rather have regrets about not doing what people said, than regretting not doing what my heart led me to and wondering what life had been like if I'd just been myself.� Brittany Ren�e
      �Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.� Jim Rohn
      �When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.� Confucius
      �Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.� Henry David Thoreau
      Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today.� James Dean
      �How soon 'not now' becomes 'never'.� Martin Luther
      �Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.� Anonymous
      �Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.� Winston Churchill
      You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.� Henry Drummond
      �Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice.� Wayne Dyer
      �He is able who thinks he is able.� Buddha
      �Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.� Desiderius Erasmus
      �If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.� John Quincy Adams
      �When the solution is simple, God is answering.� Albert Einstein

      Controlling our destiny. August 28, 2006

      People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want and if they can't find them, make them. George Bernard Shaw
      There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein
      Even when the obstacle of myself seems endlessly unsurmountable, I continue. Carla Needleman
      While I don't ask you to save the world, I do ask you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary, and remove from your life those who offer you despair and disrespect. Nikki Giovanni
      Let the beauty we love be what we do. Rumi
      Do you know what astonished me the most in the world? The inability of force to create anything. In the long run, the sword is always beaten by the spirit. Napoleon Bonaparte (at the end of his life)
      What you will be is what you do. Buddha
      Our own life is the instrument with which we experiment with Truth. Thich Nhat Hanh
      Shift from allowing things to happen to making them happen, from receptivity to actively creating the kind of life that enhances our healing. Dawna Markova

      Discipline. August 25, 2006

      Here you will find some great quotes on discipline. Truly, it is one of the key ingredients if we want to achieve our goals.

      Lack of discipline leads to frustration and self-loathing. Marie Chapian
      Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability. Roy Smith
      Discipline is based on pride, on meticulous attention to details, and on mutual respect and confidence. Discipline must be a habit so ingrained that it is stronger than the excitement of the goal or the fear of failure. Gary Ryan
      Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes. Buddha
      He that cannot obey, cannot command. Benjamin Franklin
      It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through. Zig Ziglar
      Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons. Jim Rohn
      Many of life's circumstances are created by three basic choices: the disciplines you choose to keep, the people you choose to be with; and, the laws you choose to obey. Charles Millhuff

      Using our talents to the fullest. August 24, 2006

      Many times we are afraid to use our talents, our abilities that God gave us. This is very far from what God wants us to do. He wants us to use it all: 100% and even more. In fact, he promised that when he told the parable of talents. The lesson from that parable? As we use our talents more and more, God gives us more talents. Isn't this great? We just have to accomplish our purpose on life, a task that we only may know through a deep communion with God and an inner knowledge of ourselves. And God gave us our talents to accomplish our destiny. Please, read the anonymous quote below. It is a great way of saying, as Jesus said when he was dying: "Let it be done". In other words, "I've accomplished my destiny on earth. Now I can die in peace."
      "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say I used everything you gave me."

      Qualities of people who realize their dreams. August 23, 2006

      We can realize our dreams. Here is according to D. W. Lamont, three simple things that separate those who realize their dreams and those who don't:
      1. A deep passion and commitment in what we are doing.
      2. A clear focus and inner clarity of what is most important in our lives.
      3. An unwavering sense of purpose. This is a spiritual sense of a greater purpose in our lives and our work. Work is fun, not a chore. We wake up every day with a passionate purpose. In fact, there are great things to be created each day.

      So, he also points out, there are two ways we can live our lives:


      1. At the mercy of others and hoping our lucky day will come.
      2. Being connected with our inner passions, our lives's dreams, and living that passion daily.

      I hope that, from now on, we may choose to live to realize our purpose on earth. In fact, we are here just for a short time.

      Happiness, virtue, character. August 22, 2006

      The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature. Marcu Aurelius
      All virtue is summed up in dealing justly. Aristotle
      The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it. Thomas Babington
      The superior man thinks always of virtue; the common man thinks of comfort. Confucius
      Peace is the virtue of civilization. War is its crime. Victor Hugo
      Character is supreme in life, hence Jesus stood supreme in the supreme thing - so supreme that, when we think of the ideal, we do not add virtue to virtue, but think of Jesus Christ, so that the standard of human life is no longer a code but a character. E. Stanley Jones

      Wisdom. August 16, 2006

      Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it. Albert Einstein

      Patience. August 12, 2006

      Each thing comes gradualy at its precise time. Ovid
      Be patient with everything, specially with yourself. Don't be afraid to consider your imperfections; instead, try to polish them and each day begin the work once more. Saint Francis De Sales

      Action. January 15, 2007

      Everything comes gradually and at its appointed hour. Ovid
      A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue. Ambrose Bierce
      Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew. Saint Francis De Sales
      If you add a little to a little, and then do it again, soon that little shall be much. Hesiod
      All things come to him who waits - provided he knows what he is waiting for. Woodrow T. Wilson
      Genius is eternal patience.Michelangelo
      Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content. Helen Keller
      Beware the fury of a patient man. John Dryden
      He that can have patience can have what he will. Benjamin Franklin
      Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity. Carl Jung.

      Wrong ideals. August 11, 2006

      Human destiny is subject to economic crisis, lack of jobs and wars. Human beings have built their world, have constructed houses and workshops; they produce clothes and cars, plant cereals and fruits, but they have seen themselves taken from the product of their hands, and in reality, they are no longer owners of their world and their work. Their work has been transformed in their boss, a boss to whom they must adore, with whom they try to deal with the best they can. The product of their own effort has become their god. Eric Fromm

      Our attitude. August 10, 2006

      We are responsible, as human beings, for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not of our conditions. We can subordinate our feelings to our values. We have the initiative and responsability of making things happen...Proactive people know that responsability. They don't say that their behavior is the consequence of conditions or circumstances. Their behavior is a product of their conscious choosing; it is based on values, and it is not the product of conditions nor it is based on feelings...What hurts us, more than what happens to us, is because we allow it, we consent to what happens to us...Our most difficult experiences mold our character and develop our internal forces, the freedom to undertake difficult situations in the future and to inspire in others the same behavior...What matters most is the way in which we respond to everything that happens in our life...If our feelings control our actions, that means that we have not chosen our responsibility and we have allowed our feelings to lead our lives. Taken from "The 7 Habits of Highly Effecient People" by S. R. Covey

      Organizing our time. August 9, 2006

      Life exists around time. If I want to add something new to my life, I have to reorganize my priorities. This means that I have to unload first, to make some space. Sometimes, this not only means to change bad things for good things, but also good things for bad things. Richard O�Ffill

      Joyful living, being creative. August 8, 2006

      Whatsoever you do, if you do it joyfully, if you do it lovingly, if your act of doing it is not purely economic, then it is creative. If something grows out of it withing you, if it gives you growth, it is spiritual, it is creative, it is divine...Love what you do. Be meditative while you are doing it--whatsoever it is, irrespective of the fact of what it is. Then you will know that even cleaning can become creative. With what love!--almost singing and dancing inside. If you clean the floor with such love, you have done an invisible painting. You lived that moment in such delight that it has given you some inner growth. You cannot be the same after a creative act.
      Creativity means loving whatsoever you do--enjoying, celebrating it! Maybe nobody comes to know about it--who is going to praise you for cleaning the floor? History will not take any acccount of it, newspapers will not publish your name and picture, but that is irrelevant. You enjoyed it. The value is intrinsic. So if you are looking for fame and then you are creative--if you become famous like Picasso, then you are creative--then you will miss. Then you are in fact not creative at all; you are a politician, ambitious. If fame happens, good. If it doesn�t happen, good. It should not be the consideration. The consideration should be that you are enjoying whatsoever you are doing, it is your love affair. If your act is your love affair, then it becomes creative. Small things become great by the touch of love and delight.
      When ambition enters, creativity desappears--because an ambituous man cannot be creative, an ambitious man cannot love any activity for its own sake. While he is painting he is looking ahead; he is thinking, "When am I going to get a Nobel prize?" When he is writing a novel he is looking ahead, he is always in the future--and a creative person is always in the present. A creative act enhances the beauty of the world; it gives something to the world, it never takes anything from it.
      A creative person comes into the world, enhances the beauty of the world--a song here, a painting there. He makes the world dance better, enjoy better, love better, mediate better. When he leaves this world, he leaves a better world behind him. Nobody may know him, somebody may know him, that is not the point--but he leaves the world a better world, tremendously fulfilled because his life has been of some intrinsic value. Taken from "Creativity" by Osho

      Good people are a blessing to others. August 6, 2006

      Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Psalm 1:1-3.

      Persistence, being creative. August 4, 2006

      If we fail, should we stop trying? Let�s read what one of the greatest basketball players say about this:
      I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost more than 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. . . . And that is why I succeed. Michael Jordan

      August 3, 2006:
      A creative person is one who has insight, who can see things nobody else has ever seen before, who hears things that nobody has heard before...The soul happens only when the artist disappears into his art -he is no longer separate. When the painter paints with such abandon that he is not there, so that he even feels guilty to sign his painting because he knows he has not done it...Some unknown force has done it through him, he knows that he has been possessed. That has been the experience of all the really great artists down the ages: the feeling of being possessed. The greater the artist, the more clear the feeling is. And those who are the greatest - a Mozart, a Beethoven... those who are the greatest are absolutely certain that they have been nothing but hollow bamboos and existence has been singing through them. They have been flutes but the song is not theirs. It has flowed through them, but it comes from some unknown source. They have not hindered - but they have not created it. Osho

      Have a quiet mind. August 1, 2006

      A quiet mind is one of the greatest achievements we can ever accomplish. According to Gerald Jampolsky, here are some cues on how to attain it:
      Let go of guilt and fear through forgiveness.
      Have peace of mind as our only goal.
      Learn to listen to our inner voice as a guide for directions and decision-making.

      And here I add another one: Trust in God.

      Skill, diligence, and patience. July 31, 2006

      Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance. Samuel Johnson
      Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily. J. F. V. Schiller
      Dance: As though no one is watching you. Love: As though you have never been hurt before. Sing: As though no one can hear you. Live: As though heaven is here on earth. Unknown.
      It's not what's happening to you now or what has happened in your past that determines who you become. Rather, it's your decisions about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you're going to do about them that will determine your ultimate destiny. Anthony Robbins
      Always do you what you love and appreciate life as a wonderful journey.J. Campbell
      Rather than being idle, doing what you love is a pathway to greater meaning, happiness, and a self or higher complexity. M. Csikszentmihalyi
      Miracles start to happen when we resolve to depend fully on God and decide to love ourselves. M. Williams
      We too easily give up on our dreams, yet the universe is always ready to help us fulfill them. P. Coelho


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