Why Some Musicians Seem to Be Memorization “Naturals” (and How to Become More of One Yourself)

Ah, the dreaded memory slip. We’ve all experienced at least one in our lifetimes. And spent many a sleepless night playing and replaying music in our heads, in an effort to reassure ourselves that we actually do have everything memorized. Or spent most of a performance fearing that we’re going to forget what comes next, or get stuck in an endless loop. It may not literally be life or death, but it can certainly feel that way at times. But then there are those for whom memorization seems to...


Adequate Learning Vs Overlearning: How Many Repetitions Is Enough?

Adequate Learning Vs Overlearning: How Many Repetitions Is Enough?

You know those happy moments in the practice room when you experience a tiny breakthrough, and after having struggled for a while, can finally play a passage exactly like you want? Feels like cause for celebration, right? Well, as a kid, I would reward myself for my achievement by putting my violin down and taking a practice break. Sometimes stretching into the next day… This seemed like a reasonable enough thing to do at the time. Of course, now that I have kids, this sort of thing...


How Can We Embrace Auditions in a More Positive Way?

How Can We Embrace Auditions and Thrive When It Counts?

Right up there with the SAT’s and trips to the dentist, auditions seem to be among the least enjoyed activities that we encounter in the course of our musical careers. More so than performances, auditions (and competitions) tend to make us feel like we’re being judged, evaluated, and compared, with every little detail put under a microscope. Which naturally leads to more of a “threat” mindset than the more performance-enhancing “challenge” mindset. But whether it’s for youth...


Is It True That There’s a Way to Learn Motor Skills Twice as Fast?

A Strategy That Enables Us to Learn Twice as Fast?

A study was published recently which has gotten a lot of attention1 for suggesting that we may be able to double our rate of learning. At first glance, it’s one of those things that sounds way too good to be true. But on the other hand, wouldn’t it be nice if there really was a way? Curiosity got the better of me in the last few days, so I figured that now is as good a time as any to dive in and take a closer look. Shall we? Learning how to SVIPT 86 participants, split into three groups,...


Which Promotes Greater Learning - Higher Standards or Lower Standards?

Which Promotes Greater Learning - Higher Standards or Lower Standards?

“Not good enough!” was my inner mantra most of the time that I held a violin in my hands. After all, much like the ability to discern the pronunciation nuances of a foreign language is key to developing an accent-free level of fluency, a good ear and high standards take years to fine-tune, and are essential to honing one’s skills as a musician. It’s one of the products of musical training that I’m most grateful for, as I feel that an understanding of what excellence looks like...