Evidence That Pianists Might Really Have a Tougher Time Performing from Memory than the Rest of Us

Back in college, my wife and I would good-naturedly debate which was the more difficult instrument - violin (my instrument) or piano (her instrument). I would always throw out the intonation card, while she would fire back with the claim that the sheer number of notes pianists have to play (and memorize) trumped intonation. When it comes to discussions about memorization, and whether musicians ought to perform from memory or not, it does seem like pianists are often at the center of the debate.…


When Mistakes Are Good: A Counterintuitive Strategy for Rapidly Fixing Bad Habits in Our Technique

When Mistakes Are Good: A Counterintuitive Strategy for Rapidly Fixing Bad Habits in Our Technique

We all have habits. Some good - like eating healthily, exercising regularly, and squeezing toothpaste from the bottom of the tube. And others not so good - like skipping breakfast, "text neck", and leaving wet bath towels on the floor. It's no different when it comes to music - we all have various good and bad technique habits as well. Those bugaboos we keep struggling to rid ourselves of, but stick around like the stray cat we once made the mistake of feeding. The traditional approach is to…


What Changes When a Student Selects Their Own Repertoire? (A Case Study)

I loved Alvin and the Chipmunks as a little kid. I thought their voices were awesome, and particularly liked their singing voices - the Christmas song was a favorite. So when my mom tried to get me to take voice lessons (figuring it'd be good for my overall musical development), I agreed thinking I'd learn how to sing like the chipmunks did. I had visions of performing the Christmas song, and remember being pretty psyched about it all. Needless to say, voice lessons didn't last very…


A Simple Way to Keep Music in Your Fingers When Practicing More Isn't an Option

Nowadays, listening to music is easy. For one, it's everywhere. We have access to pretty much anything, anytime, and anywhere we want - on our computers, our phones, heck, even some of our TV's. It's also super easy to fast-forward, rewind, and repeat music, so we can listen to sections or entire tracks over and over and over. It's easy to forget that there was a time not so long ago when this was much more difficult... For instance, my mom likes to tell the story of all the times she had to go…


coffee vs. sleep. which is better for the sleep-deprived musician?

Naps vs. Coffee. Which Is a Better Choice for the Sleep-Deprived Musician?

Naps were a way of life for me in college (though it's debatable whether a 4-hour "nap" still qualifies as such), and there are indications that napping is becoming a more culturally accepted practice as companies like Google, The Huffington Post, Zappos, and Nike are encouraging employees to nap instead of insisting that they try to simply power through the mental fog of a mid-day lull. Indeed, the literature suggests that we can derive a whole range of benefits from sleep - from better focus…