Why It's Important to Know (and use) Your

Why It's Important to Know (and Use) Your "Signature Strengths"

That’s out of tune! Now it feels rushed. Hmm…the sound is a bit forced; doesn’t ring enough.  Whether it’s the voice in our head, or a trusted teacher, conductor, or colleague, we spend a lot of time focusing on all the imperfections in our playing. And not just with regards to all the little details in every piece we play, but with every facet of our instrumental skills and musicianship too. From finger tension, to breath control, rhythm, concept of sound, intonation, or our musical...


Having Difficulty Believing You Can Play a Flawless Audition? Forget Feedback; Try “feedforward.”

Having Difficulty Believing You Can Play a Flawless Audition?

When I was a little kid, my mom used to put on a recording of a piece I was about to perform, and have me close my eyes and listen to the recording, pretending that it was me playing perfectly in tune, with beautiful sound, and not whichever famous artist was actually playing on the tape. It felt like a silly thing to do at the time, but it did seem to help, and was something I ended up doing quite a bit of over the years. Could it really be possible to enhance learning or performance by simply...


How Being Too Quick to Offer Feedback Can Degrade Learning

Why Being Too Quick to Offer Feedback Can Degrade Learning

I remember a lesson many years ago, when my teacher told me that her goal was for me to learn how to teach myself. Where I would no longer need a teacher. I couldn’t have been more than 9 or 10 at the time, so the notion of me teaching myself was completely inconceivable. It was enough of a struggle to play in tune, never mind coming up with my own bowings and fingerings, or figuring out how to make a piece engage and capture a listener’s attention. But she was right. One day I wouldn’t...


How to win an audition: Advice and strategies from 3 renowned performer/teachers

How to Win an Audition: Advice and Strategies from 3 Renowned Performer/Teachers

Auditions may be many things, but for most musicians, “fun” is not one of them. Yet they are an unavoidable reality in a musician’s life and career. So if we’re stuck with auditions, wouldn’t it be nice if there was at least some sort of how-to guide for how best to prepare for them? With answers to questions like “When should I start preparing for an audition so I peak at the right time?” Or, “Should I focus more on scales, etudes, and fundamentals? Or just the excerpts from Day...


PETTLEP: A 7-point “How-To” Guide for Visualization

A 7-point “How-To” Guide for Effective Mental Practice

With the Olympics just around the corner, you’re likely to come across an article or two about athletes’ use of mental imagery or visualization in the near future. Because whether it’s to build confidence, enhance performance, or allow for additional practice repetitions without putting excessive wear and tear on their bodies, mental rehearsal has become an essential piece of many athletes’ training regimens. It’s not just Olympians who engage in visualization, of course. I had a...