How Do Experts Get Even Better? 5 Differences Between the Practice of Expert and Intermediate Athletes.

How Do Experts Get Even Better? 5 Lessons From the Practice of Expert and Intermediate Athletes.

When I was in graduate school, my next door neighbor was a well-known concert artist. Occasionally, I’d hear them practicing through the wall. It was interesting to see how they practiced – what they spent time on, how they approached trouble spots, etc. At the time, I thought my problem was that I didn’t practice enough. And while that was part of it, I’d also never heard of “deliberate practice.” I had no idea what productive practice looked like. And the notion that practicing...


degrees of freedom problem

The Degrees of Freedom Problem (and Why a Good Teacher Is Worth Their Weight in Gold)

At first glance, throwing a crumpled up ball of paper into a trash can seems like a pretty simple task. Hold with fingers, and flick forward with wrist and elbow. How hard can that be? But when you get serious about developing your trashketball skills, it becomes apparent that the throw is not so simple. Unlike, say, a trashketball-playing robot with fixed joints that is perfectly calibrated to make a basket by moving in exactly the same way every time, our joints and limbs are flexible and can...


your brain isn't wired for consistency - but that's not as depressing as it sounds

Your Brain Isn’t Wired for Consistency - but That’s Not as Depressing as It Sounds

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to reproduce your signature exactly the same way every single time? Or play a G major scale exactly the same way twice in a row (never mind 10 times)? These are all relatively straightforward motor tasks. So doesn’t it seem reasonable to assume that if we put in enough hours, we should eventually be able to ace these 100% of the time? At least, that’s what the maxim “practice makes perfect” seems to promise us. So…why are none of us there yet?...


Do you rehearse to practice or practice to rehearse?

Do You Rehearse to Practice or Practice to Rehearse?

A few days ago, I watched an up-and-coming young quartet publicly rehearse a Haydn quartet that they were beginning to work on. One of those in attendance was violinist Laurie Smukler, who remarked on an aspect of their rehearsal that I had never really thought of, but which totally makes sense. She commented on how well they could play their individual parts. And as a result, how flexible they were. How quickly and effortlessly they were able to adapt, adjust, change, switch directions, and...


How to intensify your focus and be more productive in the practice room with the 52:17 split

How to Intensify Your Focus and Be More Productive with the 52/17 Split

Imagine that for the next two hours, your job is to stare at an unmarked clock face. No numbers, no lines, just a blank white circle. And that a single hand will tick from one position to the next, one tiny move at a time, except for an occasional larger jump – which you must make a note of by pressing a button. How accurate a tally do you think you’d be able to keep over the two hours? This was a test devised by psychologist Norman Mackworth, who during World War II studied radar and...