The Key to Better Performances and Crispier Waffles

I was a big fan of the X-Men comics growing up, and thought that having a cool mutant power like moving objects with my mind would be pretty sweet. So naturally, I spent some time practicing that elusive skill. My efforts centered around trying to get leaves to fall from tree branches or specific blades of grass to move, and as I accumulated hours of practice, there were times when I thought I succeeded! Of course, I eventually realized that I had no gnarly mind control powers, and it was just…


Why We Should Eliminate "Shoulds" From Our Vocabulary

"I should practice more." "I should be able to memorize this faster." "I should be able to play this better by now." "I should eat more fresh veggies." Sound familiar? The word "should" is a common fixture in our daily vocabulary. But it's a word that does more harm than good. And one that I think should (oops!) be eliminated from our vocabulary. What's the big deal? On one hand "should" is just a word, and as my first grade teacher always said, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words…


The Most Valuable Lesson I Learned From Isaac Stern

One summer, I flew off to Israel with my piano trio to attend a 3-week chamber music bootcamp (no, it wasn't really called that, but that's what it was - in a good way). The faculty was a dream team of musical legends and performers (Isaac Stern, David Finckel, Leon Fleisher, Natalia Gutman, Joseph Kalichstein, Henry Meyer, Steven Tenenbom, and others) who coached us every day. It was the most memorable and impactful few weeks of my musical life - but easily the most stressful, intense, and…


How Can We Avoid Getting Psyched out by an Audience That Looks Bored (or Super Critical)?

I watched a student perform the other day, and noticed that she kept sneaking glances at the audience...presumably to gauge their reaction. For a moment, I was tempted to make funny faces or assume a look of horror to see what would happen. But that seemed like a mean thing to do, and besides, I don't have that large a facial vocabulary. Don't get me wrong - it's not a problem to look out into the audience per se, but we have this unfortunate tendency to scan the audience for the wrong things.…