The Five-a Model: A Step-by-step Process for Refining Your Technique

The Five-A Model: A Step-by-Step Process for Refining Technique

Have you ever found yourself at a fork in the road with your technique? A time when it feels like you’ve gone as far as you can go with your current approach, and that in order to go to the next level, you have to make a change of some kind? Perhaps you’ve been playing well and advancing at auditions, but realized that in order be competitive in finals, you may have to make a significant adjustment to your embouchure. Maybe an arm vibrato has served you well for many years, but has begun to...


When It Comes to Focus, What Do Elite Athletes Do Differently than Sub-elite Performers?

When It Comes to Focus, What Do Elite Athletes Do Differently?

It’s been said that at the highest levels of competition, physical ability between athletes is relatively equal. That the difference in performance comes down to what is happening inside the athlete’s mind. For instance, Olympic gymnast and gold medalist Shannon Miller once said “In the Olympic games, everyone is talented. Everyone trains hard. Everyone does the work. What separates the gold medalists from the silver medalists is simply the mental game.” Baseball great Yogi Berra once...


Frank Almond: On Work, Fun, and the Importance of Both in Dealing with Adversity

NBA coaching great Phil Jackson once said “Not only is there more to life than basketball, there’s a lot more to basketball than basketball.” I think the same could be said for music. It’s easy to get sucked into the daily grind of warmups, scales, etudes, metronome work, slow practice, and simply think of it as warmups, scales, etc. But consider what is happening under the surface while we’re navigating impossible shifts and solving vexing intonation issues. We’re developing the...


Rhythmicity: The Importance of Practicing Tricky Shifts in Rhythm

Rhythmicity: The Importance of Practicing Tricky Passages in Rhythm

It’s often said that timing is everything. Yes, people are typically referring to life or business when they say this, but it appears that the same could be said for athletic and musical endeavors as well. After all, space out for a moment in orchestra, and you could very well end up playing a solo that nobody saw coming. But on an even more fundamental level, whether we’re hitting a tennis ball (bounce…hit), driving a golf ball (tick…tock), or nailing a particularly difficult...


The Lazy (but Smart!) Person’s Guide to Mastering Self-Control

If you watched any TV during the 90's, you will probably remember the Lay’s potato chip challenge. Their catchphrase was “Betcha can’t eat just one.” And as those diabolical marketing geniuses predicted, I did find it awfully hard to eat just one and call it a day - and I don’t even particularly like potato chips. Indeed, we all know that many of the things we want most dearly in the long-term (e.g. becoming a great clarinetist, publishing a book, having healthy teeth) require...