The Most Important Part of a Performance That We Forget to Practice

The Most Important Part of a Performance (Which We Usually Forget to Practice)

For family movie night a couple weeks ago, I picked out a movie called Rookie of the Year about a kid, who in a freak accident, develops a rocket arm and gets signed by the Chicago Cubs as a 12-year old. If you don’t remember this movie, it’s because it was released back in 1993. Which of course, means that as far as my kids are concerned, the movie is “old.” It’s got those black bars on the sides, it’s not in HD, and the fonts in the opening credits look totally dated (as in, this…


for more perfect practice, try...longer...pauses

For More Perfect Practice, Try…Longer…Pauses

In theory, piñatas are terrific fun. I mean, what’s not to like? A hanging cornucopia of sweets, opened in spectacular fashion by smashing with a stick while blindfolded? Good times! Of course, the reality of piñatas is never quite as exciting as one might hope. First off, there are tons of complete misses, glancing blows, and weak hits. Then the older siblings get into the act, but to no avail. And eventually, the host parent, with growing impatience and frustration starts whack, whack,…


Use the “reverse” Ziegarnik Effect to Start Each Day of Practice Feeling Mentally Refreshed

Use the “Reverse” Zeigarnik Effect to Start Each Day of Practice Feeling Mentally Refreshed

No pain, no gain! Feel the burn! You may recognize these as popular exercise mottos from the 80’s. And maybe still in some circles today. But it’s become increasingly common knowledge among athletes from NBA basketball players to bodybuilders and powerlifters, that rest and recovery is an essential ingredient for effective training and maximal performance. As Olympic marathoner Keith Brantley once said, “Any idiot can train himself into the ground. The trick is working in training to get…


upside of failure, downside of success, and how to keep improving no matter what

The Upside of Failure, the Downside of Success, and How to Keep Improving No Matter What

Nobody likes to make mistakes. And outright failure feels even worse. Like someone has shoved their fist inside our chest, Mortal Kombat-style, and twisted everything up inside. So when we have the opportunity to spare our kids, students, or colleagues this pain that we know only too well, it’s kind of a no-brainer, right? Whether it’s correcting their homework to make sure they get A’s, or telling them exactly what fingering to use to solve a tricky shift, it’s tempting to leverage our…


What Comes First the Notes or the Music? A Chicken/Egg Problem for the Practice Room.

What Comes First - the Notes or the Music? A Chicken/Egg Problem in the Practice Room.

Once upon a time, my teacher put a few strips of colored tape on the fingerboard of my little 1/16th sized violin. A well-intentioned move, but one which led to some mother-son conflict in the ensuing week of practice. My mom noticed that I kept putting my finger slightly off the line of tape. My mom got increasingly frustrated, insisting that I put my finger ON THE TAPE. But, stubborn little kid I was, apparently I didn’t budge, saying that it wasn’t the right place. So, my mom asked my…