are you waiting for permission?

Are You Waiting for Permission?

Ever notice how kids are fond of asking questions? As in, can I have some ice cream? Can I go play in the water? Can I watch some TV? Can we buy a hamster? We are conditioned to ask for permission from an early age by parents, schoolteachers, and pretty much everyone else. Music is no exception. Sometimes it's explicit, as when we ask our teacher if we can play a certain piece. And other times, it's a little more subtle, as when we play for a teacher, implicitly asking if we can study with…


Is Slow Practice Really Necessary?

Like everyone else in the world who has ever taken music lessons, I've been urged to practice slowly on many an occasion. But did I heed my teachers' advice? Nope. After all, what's the point of slow practice? Everything is easier slower - of course you can play things more accurately at a slow tempo. What's the big deal? But...why do so many people swear by slow practice? Slow practice in the martial arts I began dabbling a bit in the martial arts when I went to college. My karate sensei would…


what to practice when you practice

What to Practice When You Practice

I recently came across a book by management consultant Peter Drucker titled The Effective Executive. One of the chapters deals exclusively with time - specifically, the relationship between one's effectiveness as an executive and one's use of time. After all, we all have the exact same 24 hours to work with, so it's the person who is able to get more out of those same hours that is going to gain an advantage as the weeks, months, and years go by. And what could be more frustrating than working…


How to Clear Your Mind of Worries Before a Big Performance

How to Clear Your Mind of Worries Before a Big Performance

It's 10 minutes before you walk on stage. You know you're prepared, but there are people in the audience whose opinions mean a lot to you, and you're playing some difficult repertoire. As the butterflies start swirling around in your tummy, what should you do? Is it better to stay relentlessly positive and write down all your good optimistic thoughts before walking on stage? Or is it better to be honest with yourself and write down all your negative thoughts and worries about the upcoming…