Why Mediocre Intonation (and Other Accuracy Problems) May Not Be a Practice Issue, but a Focus Issue

Why Mediocre Intonation (and Other Accuracy Problems) May Not Be a Practice Issue, but a Focus Issue

Have you ever found yourself worrying about a tricky passage a couple lines in advance? And totally flubbing it when you got to it, precisely because you started thinking about it? For better or worse, the things we think about when playing have a significant influence on the quality of our performances. And more to the point, thinking too much about a difficult passage is probably going to do more harm than good. Like walking through a food court on day 2 of a juice cleanse. But it's not...


Swear You're Regressing? Why Practicing More Can Lead to Worse Performance

Swear You're Regressing? Why Practicing Too Much Can Lead to Worse Performance

We all have moments in the practice room when our mind just wanders off like a 5-year old in a toy store and it’s difficult to keep our attention on the task at hand. But for those with ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), controlling attention and staying on task is a much more vexing and pervasive challenge. A challenge which can interfere with learning, not just in the classroom, but in the practice room as well. For instance, a recent study found that while folks without ADHD...


An oft-neglected consideration in audition preparation that could be the difference between a winning performance and a missed opportunity. 

An Oft-Neglected Consideration in Audition Preparation That Could Be the Difference Between a Winning Performance and a Missed Opportunity

For me, 2 months was the sweet spot. That was the point in my competition or audition preparations where the repertoire was more or less in my fingers, and I was filled with hope and optimism about where my playing would be on the big day. After all, 2 months always seemed like more than enough time to hone and refine every little detail. Of course, that’s also right about the point where time somehow shifts into warp speed (but very sneakily) and before you know it, there’s only 4 weeks...


Struggling to Get a Tricky Passage up to Tempo? Try This Ingenious Practice Technique.

Struggling to Get a Tricky Passage up to Tempo? Why "Perfect" Practice May Actually Be the Problem.

It’s been said that we must learn to walk before we can run. Which of course makes perfect sense, but have you ever encountered a speed plateau in a piece you’re working on? A section that you can totally play at about 80-90% of the final tempo, but no matter what you try, keep hitting a wall, and can’t seem to get over the hump? Why does this happen? And how can you solve this irksome problem? The speed-accuracy tradeoff Back in the 1950’s, a psychologist named Paul Fitts...


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...