At this point in my in-depth project, I’ve been spending a lot of time practicing and experimenting with different approaches to my music. I admit that I haven’t completed a quantifiable number of tasks, as the majority of my time at the moment is focused on practicing, perfecting, and experimenting. I also spent a fair amount of time reviewing my notes from my last mentorship session and thinking about how to apply my learning.
What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?
I remember when I was discussing song choices with my mentor, she said that many potential songs could have many different stylistic approaches. For example, Fly Me to the Moon is a very popular and standardized song and consequently, many artists have approached it differently. My mentor suggested that I did some research on different approaches to look at and draw inspiration from. Most notably, she suggested that I look at Diana Krall’s rendition of the song, as it’s in the same key as my chart.
What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?
From my own personal experience, I know that listening to others is one of the best ways to grow as a musician. As Igor Stravinsky supposedly said, “a good composer does not imitate; he steals”. This quote isn’t encouraging plagiarism, but instead suggests that imitations will never be a foundation for great work, as it will never be true to the artist. Artists should aim to draw influence from others and use their work as the groundwork for new ideas. This way, the music will be original with roots stemming from other sources.
“A good composer does not imitate; he steals”
In the age of the internet, there is a virtually infinite collection of recordings and tapes of other musicians; it’s easier than ever to look for artists to draw influence from. I also find that there is an online community of people aiming to teach different stylistic approaches for music, and although they should be taken with a grain of salt, it’s always beneficial to hear the opinions and perspectives of others, especially with such a subjective art.
What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?
In terms of accelerating, I feel that my in-depth in particular needs to be built on practice and confidence, and it would be difficult to find a single strategy to “accelerate” my learning/ progress. The most beneficial strategy that comes to my mind is simple; practicing basic technique and theory can make a project like this go significantly smoother, since this allows me to build muscle memory in order to fall into certain positions with ease.
When you get together what do you talk about?
When I am with my mentor, we spend most of our time talking about ways that I can extend further. Since our sessions are fairly short, we don’t have a lot of time to dwell on what I’ve already done. We are constantly looking at what I can do to improve and complexify my work, and I then take these ideas home with me for my own experimentation.
What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?
Right now, we are at the stage where my mentor knows me well enough to support my weaknesses better, and I’m comfortable reaching out to her if I’m ever struggling with anything. I’m glad that we’ve reached this point in our relationship, as I know that I can easily get support from her whenever needed, which is both beneficial to my learning, and to my confidence, as I know that I can ask for her help whenever needed.
What are you learning about one another?
I feel that in our mentoring relationship, we are learning about our strengths and weaknesses, and this knowledge allows us to further understand how we can help each other. My mentor knows what type of thing I struggle with, and she also knows how she can “tap into” my strengths in order to help me succeed. This way, I can use the strengths that I already have to help out my weaker areas, and my mentor is able to facilitate this effectively.
I’m thrilled about my progress on my project at this point, and I’m looking forward to maintain my practicing, experimenting, and polishing in the coming weeks.