5 Tips from Pros on Making Music at Home


More time at home means more time to practice and create music. But keeping motivated, organized, and stress-free can be challenging. That is when music experts who have worked on their craft for years can help. J.W. Pepper has had the opportunity to interview numerous successful musicians who are leaders in their fields. Here are five of their insights on making music:

How to Practice – David Kim, Concertmaster – The Philadelphia Orchestra

“It’s really important for me that I do really slow practice – not just a little slower – super slow practice. I feel that my muscle memory does not work if I am going just a little too fast, even if I do something ten times over and over again… My magic number is seven. If I practice a difficult passage seven times super slow, it just somehow cements whatever that muscle memory is much better into my hands and my brain.”

View more: The Inside Voice: An Interview with Concertmaster David Kim

Keeping Organized and Self-Motivated – Jeff Coffin, Saxophonist, Dave Matthews Band

“Each week has 168 hours, so if (students) come to me for a lesson for an hour, they’re on their own for 167 hours, so who’s really doing the teaching… My job is to teach them how to teach themselves. So I think that is what a big part of practice is – teaching you how to teach yourself… how to work on something so you actually get better at it and seeing the consequences of that. So keep a practice record book.

“A student of mine (told me) ‘I feel like I’m so scattered.’ I said, ‘Keep a record book this week and see what happens.’ He came back the next week and said… ‘That was amazing. I got so much done.’ I said “Yay, that’s why I’m here. Now go practice!’”

View more: How Dave Matthews Band’s Jeff Coffin Made It Big by Being Prepared

Finding Your Voice – Deke Sharon, Singer, Arranger & Producer; Music Director for the Pitch Perfect films

“Everybody can sing. This whole idea that some people are tone-deaf is completely mistaken. There are three tone-deaf people on the planet, and the tone-deaf people talk like this (flat) because their voice can’t vary in pitch because they can’t hear any variance in pitch … If someone ever says to you, ‘I’m so tone deaf, I can’t sing at all,’ you can say, ‘Yes, you can. You just don’t know how to match pitch and matching pitch comes with practice.’ … No one is perfect. No one can do it all the time, but we all have the ability to get better and better …. and before you know it, you’ll be able to sing in a quartet on your own, and nothing will enrich your life more.”

View more: An Interview with a Cappella Guru Deke Sharon

Being Creative – Rollo Dilworth, Composer

“I have a pad of paper I take with me everywhere I go and when I have a thought, I write it on paper. Yes, when I write music I hear voices in my head. I don’t want people to think I’m insane – maybe on some level most composers are, but I literally hear the music in my head. And I can write a full score without going to the piano… I believe that every single person has the ability to compose whether it’s words, whether it’s music, or a combination of both. We just have to be quiet enough to listen to the voice within.”

View more: The Inside Voice: An Interview with Rollo Dilworth

Finding Comfort in Music – Amanda Jane Cooper, Actress; played Glinda in two national tours of Wicked and on Broadway

“Singing was this thing that I would do in private – in secret – whenever I felt scared of the world I would hum, or whenever I was afraid of the dark I would sing… It’s something that brought me comfort… I think subconsciously I thought I would be safe if I was singing.”

View more:  The Inside Voice: An Interview with Amanda Jane Cooper

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Mary Rogelstad
Mary Rogelstad
Mary Rogelstad joined Pepper in 2018 as the company’s Marketing Content Coordinator. Previously she worked as a journalist in the international media and as a communications specialist at various nonprofits. In her free time, Mary has enjoyed singing in various choral groups and performing in musical theater.


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  1. Thank you. I especially enjoyed the videos of Rollo Dilworth. He has been one of my favorite composer/arrangers for many years. Delighted to hear about his creative process and his autobiographical descriptions of his career. What a great talent.


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