How Can We Embrace Auditions in a More Positive Way?

How Can We Embrace Auditions and Thrive When It Counts?

Right up there with the SAT’s and trips to the dentist, auditions seem to be among the least enjoyed activities that we encounter in the course of our musical careers. More so than performances, auditions (and competitions) tend to make us feel like we’re being judged, evaluated, and compared, with every little detail put under a microscope. Which naturally leads to more of a “threat” mindset than the more performance-enhancing “challenge” mindset. But whether it’s for youth orchestra seating,…


A Strategy That Enables Us to Learn Twice as Fast?

A study was published recently which has gotten a lot of attention5 for suggesting that we may be able to double our rate of learning. At first glance, it’s one of those things that sounds way too good to be true. But on the other hand, wouldn’t it be nice if there really was a way? Curiosity got the better of me in the last few days, so I figured that now is as good a time as any to dive in and take a closer look. Shall we? Learning how to SVIPT 86 participants, split into three groups, were…


Ensemble Chemistry: Why Do We

Ensemble Chemistry: Why Do We "Click" with Some of Our Colleagues and Not with Others?

It was a warm spring day in 1986. And my elementary-school classmates and I were enjoying an afternoon of potato sack races, water balloon tosses, and other games. Eventually it was time for the three-legged race, and I paired up with a friend from my class. Maybe it was because we were of similar height, or that we’d played soccer together for several years, but for one reason or another, we ended up being a pretty good team. Actually, that doesn’t even begin to describe the beatdown that we…


Which Promotes Greater Learning - Higher Standards or Lower Standards?

Which Promotes Greater Learning - Higher Standards or Lower Standards?

"Not good enough!" was my inner mantra most of the time that I held a violin in my hands. After all, much like the ability to discern the pronunciation nuances of a foreign language is key to developing an accent-free level of fluency, a good ear and high standards take years to fine-tune, and are essential to honing one’s skills as a musician. It’s one of the products of musical training that I’m most grateful for, as I feel that an understanding of what excellence looks like has served me…