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Avior Byron

My name is Avior Byron and I am a musicologist, blogger and composer. I write books, articles and a blog about music, performance, research, and theory. Read more at my about page

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Self-discipline in music and musicological practice

Self-discipline in music and musicological practice

 
 
One of the things that bothered me since I started to learn music was how to practice and develop in a systematic way. I would like to stress that the solutions that I found are good for me and will not necessarily work for everyone. I am writing here about musicology but the idea is valid also for other types of music practice. It is also important to note that my situation, at the moment, is of a freelance musicologist (although officialy I started a Post-doc at the Hebrew University).
 

Daily practice

Last month, during my research trip at the British Library, I had the honour to meet the singer Jane Manning and her husband, the composer Anthony Payne. I told them that I am concerned about my academic future in Israel and that I wonder whether there are many freelance musicologists. One of the things that they told me is that each person that was a freelance musicologist found a solution that was good for him or her. This made me think that since I have a regular income from our translation company, I must find a solution that would be good for me. Our company is in Mazkeret Batya, ten minutes walk from where we live. Since I wake up at six AM every morning and since I am the general manger or the company, I can afford starting my day slightly later than most people can.
 
I decided to devote one hour, five days a week for reading book and articles on music. This may seem not too much time for some people, but if this is done in a consistent manner, than its value accumulates. I know this from learning Judaism. It is said that one should make specific time for learning Torah. This is what I am doing these days with music. I started to do this last week, when I returned from London, and it is early to say, but until now it is working fine (I am at the middle to the book Serkin: A life by Stephen Lehmann and Marion Faber, which is excellent!).
 

Weekly practice

I made a more drastic decision and that is to devote one day a week for doing musicology research. I started working with Prof. Jehoash Hirshberg and my subject is Bronislaw Hubermann. Yesterday I sat for half a day in his archive in Tel-Aviv. This marks a change in the way I thought about music. While in the last two years I thought that if one wants to do research one must have a regular academic job and an income that would financially justify it, today I believe that one should do things also because one feels that he or she must do them – even if the only take money from the person. Perhaps this is naïve. But this is what I believe in.
 

Concentrated practice and work

Once or twice a year I take a month or so off my work and devote myself to doing more extensive research. The aim of this is to produce more extensive work that is not possible in the daily and weekly frameworks described above. In fact, "normal" academic scholars do the same during the summer break.

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