what to do when everyone thinks you're great - but you feel like a failure

What to Do When Everyone Thinks You’re Great – But You Feel Like a Failure

Live with someone long enough, and you get a pretty good sense of what kind of person they are. What kind of movies they like. Whether or not they take out the trash. How respectful they are of your stuff in the fridge. We live with ourselves for our entire lives, so sooner or later, we come to form a pretty clear idea about the kind of person we are too. How introverted/extroverted we are, … [Read more...]

The Peak-end Rule: a Simple Way to Make Practicing Feel Less like a Chore

The Peak-End Rule: A Simple Way to Make Practicing Feel Less like a Chore

One summer in graduate school, a couple friends talked me into doing the run portion of a triathlon with them. I don’t remember much about the experience, other than wondering somewhere around the half-way point why I ever agreed to do such a thing and rueing the day I ever met them, but also, on a more positive note, that the last portion of the race was downhill, and there were a lot of folks … [Read more...]

relationship between parents' goals and their children' performance anxiety

How to Increase Your Kids’ Performance Anxiety (Not That You’d Want to)

We’ve all heard stories about those super intense sports parents who get more invested in games than their kids do. So the question of whether or not parents ought to attend all of their children’s games or practices is an interesting one - with no clear one-size-fits-all answer (check out 6 Reasons Parents Should NOT Watch Practice - which also is an interesting blog with some pretty cool … [Read more...]

is it more effective to practice scales in the morning?

Is It More Effective to Practice Scales and Etudes in the Morning?

I don't remember the day when I first laid eyes on the glossy burgundy cover of the Carl Flesch scale book, but I do remember that summer when it went from one of those books that collected dust on the shelf to one which took up permanent residence on my music stand. Until that time, scales were a mostly neglected part of my practice regimen. A chore, that I (mistakenly) thought was just for … [Read more...]

19 things that great teachers do

19 Things That Great Teachers Do: Insights from the Approaches of Three Renowned Artist-Teachers

My oldest kid is currently in a phase where he tries to avoid explaining things by saying "it's complicated." To his credit, some of the things we experience in life really are difficult to articulate in words - despite being clear to us in a non-verbal sort of way. Like a child trying to explain what love is. Or defining what it is that makes a great teacher great. Have you ever … [Read more...]

The Two Most Efficient (and Two Least Efficient) Memorization Strategies

The Two Most Efficient (and Two Least Efficient) Memorization Strategies

Making the bed in the morning is one of those activities in life that seems like a questionable use of time. I mean, it’s going to get unmade anyway the next evening, right? Socks (or more accurately, their seeming proclivity for ditching their partners) are another time-sucking black hole in our lives. Then again, because of my fundamental laziness, I’m always looking for ways to be more … [Read more...]

A 30-second Technique to Prevent Choking under Pressure That Sounds Too Good to Be True

A Simple Technique to Prevent Choking under Pressure (Which Sounds Like it Couldn’t Possibly Work)

One of my favorite violin concertos - the - begins with a 10th in 5th position. That’s enough of a challenge as it is, not to mention when you’re nervous and your hand is cold and stiff and claw-like. But in his infinite wisdom, the composer decided to craft a lengthy intro (about 20% of the length of the entire movement) which is a nice enough bit of music, but forces the performer to just … [Read more...]

Observational practice: Not just better than nothing

Watching Videos of Experts Can Help Us Learn More Effectively – If We Do It Right

Most kids seem to love watching themselves on video - whether they’re singing, dancing, or just being their goofy selves. Weird how things change as we get older though, no? I remember thinking it was a blast to watch old 8mm film of myself as a kid, but by the time camcorders came out, I totally resisted watching any video of myself playing. It was bad enough to have to listen to my … [Read more...]

Autonomy in the Practice Room: How Choice Can Help You Learn Better

Autonomy in the Practice Room: How Choice Can Enhance Learning

24 hours sounds like a lot, but once you take out time for sleeping, eating, school, homework, Tae Kwon Do practice, etc., there’s frustratingly little left over. And everyone just seems to get busier with each passing year. So when it comes to homework, sometimes I really just want my kids to get it done in the most expeditious way possible. But this sentiment seems to transform me into … [Read more...]

The Value of Eschewing Tradition and Going out on a Limb

Why Tradition Isn’t Always What It’s Cracked up to Be

Whether it’s a treasured family recipe for chocolate fudge or a technique for doing long division, our daily activities are peppered with traditions of one kind or another - customs or ways of doing things that have been passed on from one generation to the next. We have a lot of musical traditions as well. Some are related to technique and how we play our instrument, while many are related to … [Read more...]