Is It More Effective to Practice Scales and Etudes in the Morning?

I don’t remember the day when I first laid eyes on the glossy burgundy cover of the Carl Flesch scale book, but I do remember that summer when it went from one of those books that collected dust on the shelf to one which took up permanent residence on my music stand. Until that time, scales were a mostly neglected part of my practice regimen. A chore, that I (mistakenly) thought was just for beginners. I was working with a new teacher that summer, and he insisted that I begin devoting some...


19 things that great teachers do

19 Things That Great Teachers Do: Insights from the Approaches of Three Renowned Artist-Teachers

My oldest kid is currently in a phase where he tries to avoid explaining things by saying “it’s complicated.” To his credit, some of the things we experience in life really are difficult to articulate in words – despite being clear to us in a non-verbal sort of way. Like a child trying to explain what love is1. Or defining what it is that makes a great teacher great. Have you ever wondered what exactly renowned teachers do during lessons that help their students make...


The Two Most Efficient (and Two Least Efficient) Memorization Strategies

The Two Most Efficient (and Two Least Efficient) Memorization Strategies

Making the bed in the morning is one of those activities in life that seems like a questionable use of time. I mean, it’s going to get unmade anyway the next evening, right?1 Socks (or more accurately, their seeming proclivity for ditching their partners) are another time-sucking black hole in our lives2. Then again, because of my fundamental laziness, I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient. Not that all shortcuts are better, of course. But spending more time on something than is...


Observational practice: Not just better than nothing

Watching Videos of Experts Can Help Us Learn More Effectively - If We Do It Right

Most kids seem to love watching themselves on video – whether they’re singing, dancing, or just being their goofy selves. Weird how things change as we get older though, no? I remember thinking it was a blast to watch old 8mm film of myself as a kid, but by the time camcorders came out, I totally resisted watching any video of myself playing. It was bad enough to have to listen to my performances; adding video on top sooo did not make me feel any better. Of course, watching someone else...


Autonomy in the Practice Room: How Choice Can Help You Learn Better

Autonomy in the Practice Room: How Choice Can Enhance Learning

24 hours sounds like a lot, but once you take out time for sleeping, eating, school, homework, Tae Kwon Do practice, etc., there’s frustratingly little left over. And everyone just seems to get busier with each passing year. So when it comes to homework, sometimes I really just want my kids to get it done in the most expeditious way possible. But this sentiment seems to transform me into something of a homework tyrant. Telling them when to do it, where to do it, in what order, and so...