Hailed by The New York Times as a “virtuoso…one of the foremost saxophonists of his generation”, “brilliant” (The Guardian, UK), and “a sterling saxophonist” (The Baltimore Sun), Dr. Timothy McAllister is one of today’s premier concert soloists and soprano chair of the acclaimed PRISM Quartet. He serves as Professor of Saxophone at The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance. Additionally, he spends his summers as distinguished artist faculty of the Interlochen Arts Camp (MI), and regularly performs with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra. He has recently been featured with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Sao Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony, National Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Tokyo Wind Symphony, Dallas Wind Symphony, and United States Navy Band, among others. McAllister’s work can be heard on the Nonesuch, Deutsche Grammphon, Naxos, OMM, Stradivarius, Centaur, AUR, Albany, New Dynamic, Equilibrium, New Focus and innova record labels.
Last month, University of Michigan SMTD Academic Affairs and Wellness Initiative hosted a Student Success Workshop. Dr. McAllister, Professor of Saxophone, served on a Faculty Panel on the topic “Advancing Your Artistry.” He started by explaining that “Failure should become the most important ‘F-word’ in your life! It’s a truth in everything you do. You have to embrace it, explore it, solve its problems, grow from trial and error. Everyone grows from that point.”
His other tips included:
1. LISTEN to great artists. Open your ears! Daily/weekly listening to music’s greatest models in all genres. Develop ears for other instruments, voices, musical styles (i.e., David Shifrin, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Ella Fitzgerald, etc.) Pay attention to the greatness around you and connect it to what YOU do.
2. Know the HISTORY of your instrument/genre/what you do. Know the origin of your traditions. (Who are the early legends of the opera? Where does your instrument come from?) Revere your history, know how others have walked the path of your art.
3. ACOUSTICS: Have the skills needed to navigate performance spaces, practice rooms, instrumental equipment, how intonation and projection works. You make must transform the space for your audience – change the room when you start playing/singing! Does the ‘noise’ you make, make people weep?
4. MUSIC: Expand your concept of what is going on around you and in the larger musical world (i.e., composers, musical trends, other ‘schools of thought’ in your field)
5. EAR-TO-HAND SKILLS through technique. Apply theory to technique. Get away from the printed page! Build simple improvisation skills – connect the hemispheres of your brain. Good resource: Jerry Coker’s Patterns for Jazz.
6. Be a problem solver. Every challenge is an opportunity to create.
7. Set macro goals for your career and micro goals for the next 3 hours.
8. Don’t skip class to practice. Organize your time and do both.