“Productive Failure”: How strategic failure in the short term can lead to greater success and learning down the road

“Productive Failure”: A Teaching Method Which Leads to Short Term Failure, but Long Term Success

My parents would sometimes take me on drives in the countryside, with the intention of getting lost and finding their way back home. It always worked out fine with my dad at the wheel, but it seems that I did not inherit his good sense of direction, and given a choice, will tend to take the exit or fork in the road that takes me further away from home. So I was that early-adopter nerd who was obsessively printing out MapQuest maps in both directions anytime I had a driving trip planned. And who...


To Listen or Not to Listen: Does Listening to a Recording Help Us Learn Faster and Play More Accurately?

Let’s say you have to learn a few short pieces in the next 24 hours, and have 4 hours to practice. How would you approach this task? Would you just dive right in and spend all 4 hours reading through the parts and working out the details? Or would you hop on YouTube and spend 30-60 minutes listening to some recordings first before doing any work on your instrument? As a young Suzuki kid, it was always the latter. I did a ton of listening – upon awakening, during meals, in the car, and...


Does cramming get a bad rap?

Why Does Cramming Get a Bad Rap?

Whether it was studying for a biology test, writing a philosophy paper, or prepping for seating auditions, I was always that student who seemed to be cramming all my preparation into the last possible moment. Furiously scanning notes until the teacher said “put your books away.” Or pulling an all-nighter and typing madly until the deadline gave me no choice but to finish up whatever I had and click print. Or even, trying to learn and memorize the last movement of a concerto a few days before...


10 most impactful things we learned in 2015

The 10 Most Impactful Things We Learned in 2015

The new year is typically a time for looking forward. For embarking on new paths, and creating new habits. But in doing so, it’s easy to miss an essential step in the looking-forward process. That of looking backwards. We know from our experience in the practice room, that repetition on autopilot isn’t particularly effective. That saying “I’ll get it next time” without reflecting on what just happened, and what we plan on doing differently next time, won’t lead to the results...


Naturals vs. Strivers. Do we unconsciously favor those who appear more naturally gifted?

"Naturals" vs. "Strivers." Do We Unconsciously Favor Those Who Appear More Naturally Gifted?

Let’s say that you have only one opening in your teaching studio, but two students who want to study with you. They’re both the same age, and both excellent and accomplished players already who play at the same level. The only difference is that one seems to be more naturally gifted, while the other, who is still talented of course, appears to have gotten to where they are through great dedication and hard work. Which young musician would you choose to accept? Upside In coverage of the NBA...