Are Today's Artists More Uniform and Less Musically Adventurous than Those of Yesteryear?

Are Today’s Artists More Uniform and Less Musically Adventurous than Those of Yesteryear?

Do you remember those not-so-long-ago times when soda came in glass bottles, drive-in-movies were still a thing, and tomatoes actually tasted like tomatoes? Even though in most ways we are generally better off now than we used to be, it’s easy to look back and romanticize the “good old days.” Whether we call it declinism (bad) or nostalgia (not so bad), it’s pretty common to gripe about the … [Read more...]

Reward vs. punishment - which leads to better learning? The answer is not what you think.

Reward vs. Punishment – Which Results in Better Learning?

In the world of college and professional sports, some coaches are notorious for having a short fuse, and for utilizing what some would consider a punitive (or abusive) style of coaching. Legendary Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight comes to mind, whose controversial dismissal in 2000 was in response to allegations of abusive behavior (such as the 1997 ). The recent movie … [Read more...]

4 signs your quartet may be headed for divorce

4 Signs Your Quartet May Be Headed for Divorce

Except for the time in 3rd grade when I lost my cool during an impassioned game of keep-away, I’ve only had a few really heated arguments in my life. And with a pretty small number of people - basically just family...and chamber music partners. Indeed, many have compared the dynamics and relationships amongst those in serious ensembles with that of marriages (for instance, The NY Times on the … [Read more...]

pre-performance apathy (or the importance of disengaging from work and practice)

Pre-Performance Apathy (or the Importance of Mentally Disengaging From Work and Practice)

I spent most of my life as a chronic under-practicer. So the experience of practicing too much was uncharted territory…until the time in grad school when I crammed for a competition. There was plenty of time for me to learn and polish all the rep, but it was several rounds of music, and I waited far too long to get serious about my preparation. Several months out, I knew I was in a bit … [Read more...]

how talking to yourself could help you become a more effective practicer

Why Thinking Out Loud Could Help You Become a More Effective Practicer & Problem-Solver

I once studied with a teacher who had this amusing habit of talking out loud to himself. Essentially offering a running play-by-play of whatever he was doing at the moment, whether he was sharpening a pencil, typing an email, or packing the trunk of a car. I thought it was a personal quirk, but as the years have gone by, I’ve caught myself talking out loud on occasion. And it seems I’m not … [Read more...]

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Metacognitive Instruction: How to Foster Smarter, More Independent Learners

.6% That’s the percentage of time in each week that students and teachers get to spend together. Not very much, huh? Heck, many students probably spend a greater percentage of the week driving to and from each lesson… The opportunity to receive direct feedback and guidance on how best to improve one’s skills is essential to a student's learning, but if they are going to make meaningful gains … [Read more...]

why you are capable of more than you might think

Evidence That We Are Capable of More Awesomeness Than We Think

“But I caaaan’t!” Whether it’s long division, making their beds, or controlling their bladders until we can get to the nearest restroom, this is one of the stock responses my kids like to use when they get to a sticking point and feel like giving up. Pushing through challenges is never easy, and whether it’s a solving a difficult technical challenge or counting the rests when you're last … [Read more...]

The danger of aiming low: how our expectations can shape our students’ learning & performance

The Perils of Aiming Low: How Our Expectations Can Shape Our Students’ Learning & Performance

In the mid-1960’s, two researchers visited an elementary school in the San Francisco area and administered a test called the "Harvard Test of Inflected Acquisition" that was purported to identify students who were likely to experience significant academic growth in the coming year (“bloomers,” they were called). They compiled a list of student names, and shared the list with teachers, explaining … [Read more...]

Facebook and the upsides of envy

Facebook and the Upsides of Envy

Have you ever had a really rough day (or month), turned to perusing your friends' Facebook status updates, and moments later, been filled with feelings of gratitude and appreciation for how great your life is? Meh…probably not so much. It’s easy to forget that what we see on Facebook is not a complete picture of our friends’ lives, but mostly just the cool bits. So even though we are happy … [Read more...]