Do We Really Sound as Bad as We Think We Do?

The great violinist Jascha Heifetz once remarked1 that we should always be happy when performing. After all, if things are going well, we should be happy that we’re having a good day. And if things are going badly, each note we play gets us closer to the end, so we should be happy about that too. That said, it’s still no fun to be stuck on stage, feeling like we're laying an egg. Cringing at each botched shift, garbled run, and cracked note. Which of course just leads to a downward spiral of…


Why Some Musicians Seem to Be Memorization “Naturals” (and How to Become More of One Yourself)

Ah, the dreaded memory slip. We’ve all experienced at least one in our lifetimes. And spent many a sleepless night playing and replaying music in our heads, in an effort to reassure ourselves that we actually do have everything memorized. Or spent most of a performance fearing that we’re going to forget what comes next, or get stuck in an endless loop. It may not literally be life or death, but it can certainly feel that way at times. But then there are those for whom memorization seems to…


How to Stop Underestimating Yourself

A Way to Stop Underestimating Yourself

Could I become the principal clarinetist of a major orchestra? A YouTube star? Generate a 6-figure freelance income? Deadlift 500 lbs? When we consider such questions, we know what the “correct” answer is. That is, if we work hard, anything is possible. But even if we believe this to be true in an abstract sense, it can be difficult to truly believe this is possible for us. As in, it’s easy to look at our friends or everyone around us, and believe that they are capable of amazing and…


Adequate Learning Vs Overlearning: How Many Repetitions Is Enough?

Adequate Learning Vs Overlearning: How Many Repetitions Is Enough?

You know those happy moments in the practice room when you experience a tiny breakthrough, and after having struggled for a while, can finally play a passage exactly like you want? Feels like cause for celebration, right? Well, as a kid, I would reward myself for my achievement by putting my violin down and taking a practice break. Sometimes stretching into the next day... This seemed like a reasonable enough thing to do at the time. Of course, now that I have kids, this sort of thing drives me…