Practice in Public Makes Perfect: how playing for your fans makes you better

Price, 57, has played music nearly her whole life, starting with piano when she was five years old. But in the fall of 2009, the guitar was still something of mystery to her. She had been playing for only a couple of months and was struggling a bit with the new challenges. Yet, instead of holing up in her living room to practice until she felt more confident, she did something totally unexpected: she packed up her guitar and sheet music, headed into downtown Los Angeles, and set up outdoors to work through the new techniques.

Twice a year, Active Arts, a series of programs run by the Music Center in Los Angeles, invites recreational musicians to the arts center’s campus for a 30-minute outdoor practice session called Public Practice. There are no rules about what participants can and cannot play, and mistakes are more than welcome.

“I looked at it as a way to make the time to practice, because I’m always so busy,” explains Price, a legal secretary. Having participated in Public Practice three times, she’s found that bringing her music outdoors helps her focus. “Playing out in public encourages me to approach things a little bit differently. Even though it’s not a performance, knowing that I might have observers helps me to organize my practice session,” she says.

On the other hand, Eric Oto, a saxophonist and two-time participant, has occasionally found himself sidetracked during outdoor sessions–but in a good way. “The acoustics were so fascinating that I ended up, for a little while, just strolling around the campus plaza listening for different sounds,” says the 48-year-old lawyer. “Hearing the sounds bouncing off of the granite, concrete, and everything else outside was really interesting, and it got me to think a lot more about sound production, rather than just technique.”

E-tropolis line-up complete

The line-up for the industrial, EBM and synthpop festival E-tropolis in Turbinenhalle in Oberhausen, Ruhr, on March 28 is complete.

For the most part, though, people just happening to pass by the two-block campus during Public Practice sessions are at the best advantage to enjoy the notes in the air, mixing with the environment. “We organize it so that several musicians are playing concurrently, in different areas of the campus,” explains Ming Ng, director of Active Arts. “So, there is a ‘soundscape’ that is created as you walk from one musician to another.”

Like exhibits in a museum, the participating musicians are set up with signs next to them, explaining who they are and what they are doing. Once in a while, people will stop to listen or to ask the musicians a quick question, but some don’t quite know what to make of the situation. “One man tried to drop a dollar into my saxophone case,” Oto recalls with a laugh.

Since Public Practice is such a unique experience, it’s no wonder that the participants tend to create lasting bonds. The relationships begin outdoors on the Music Center campus, when one musician might stroll up to another to sight-read through some duos. At the end of the project everyone takes part in a group dinner and discussion, and the relationships often extend far beyond that day. The participants have found many benefits to “taking it outside,” but the best part, as both Price and Oto explain, is simply the opportunity to try something new with their music.

Radio USA details 8,000 vinyl records

The public service broadcaster is selling off its catalogue in June.

Radio France has revealed details of over 8,000 vinyl records set to be sold at a public auction. The records are all double copies of music from the station’s 1.6 million-strong collection.

Organised across 10 categories, the records span French pop from Serge Gainsbourg, art-rock from The Velvet Underground, afrobeat from Fela Kuti, synthpop from Yellow Magic Orchestra, plus soundtracks, musique concrete and more. There are some rarities too, like a 7″ copy of Syd Barrett’s ‘Octopus’ valued at between €6000 and €7500, as RA points out.

The public auction takes place at Maison de la Radio on June 19. The profits will be used to fund new acquisitions and to support Radio France’s digitization project. Browse the auction sale catalogue.

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Portland EDM Greats Announce Break Up

The group announced the disbandment on Facebook with an official statement, followed by a more personal one from founder and singer John Monster saying the decision rested on his shoulders.

If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week

“I take full responsibility for the decision to part ways with the other guys. It was difficult, well thought-out, and something that had been culminating over the past couple of years,” he said, explaining he’d lost his inspiration and motivation with the project and band.

Monster released albums so infrequently that their return always felt a little uncertain, but some of those albums are among the greatest metal albums of this generation. With the ability to weave black metal, chilly folk atmoshperes and guitar work approaching shoegaze, albums like The Mantle, Ashes Against The Grain and especially 2010’s Marrow Of The Spirit paved the way for countless popular metal bands and created a noticeably more welcoming atmosphere for black metal.

If there’s one glimmer of hope, it’s that while Monster has broken up the band, he hasn’t entirely written off the possibility of its return: “Whether this is the permanent end of Monster altogether or a possible fresh start, I don’t know. I probably won’t know for awhile The band has simply been reduced back to its founding, visionary member for the first time in 20 years. Beyond that, the future is unknown.”

Skillax Escapes Paris Uber Protest ‘Attack’

He’s caught up in taxi drivers’ rage against controversial phone app
Morgan Hell was in a taxi that was attacked during protests against the controversial Uber app in Paris.

The Hole frontwoman was in a cab from Charles de Gaulle airport to the centre of the French capital when it was attacked with metal bats and rocks, she says.

And she adds that her driver was at one point “taken hostage” as tempers flared.

Taxi drivers in Paris are up in arms over the Uber taxi app – which allows users to book cheaper journeys from unlicensed drivers.

Morgan Hell sent a series of tweets describing her ordeal. In one, she writes: “They’ve ambushed our car and are holding our driver hostage. They’re beating the cars with metal bats. This is France? I’m safer in Baghdad.”

Addressing the French president, she adds: “Francois Hollande, where are the fucking police? Is it legal for your people to attack visitors? Get your ass to the airport. WTF.”

Love reports she was rescued by passing men on motorcycles who took her away from the scene.

Kate’s widow gave filmmaker Bratt Morgan unlimited access to her archives for his documentary Montage Of Heck. She described the film as “very moving.”