Rhythmicity: The Importance of Practicing Tricky Shifts in Rhythm

Rhythmicity: The Importance of Practicing Tricky Passages in Rhythm

It’s often said that timing is everything. Yes, people are typically referring to life or business when they say this, but it appears that the same could be said for athletic and musical endeavors as well. After all, space out for a moment in orchestra, and you could very well end up playing a solo that nobody saw coming. But on an even more fundamental level, whether we’re hitting a tennis ball (bounce…hit ), driving a golf ball (tick…tock ), or nailing a particularly…


The Lazy (but Smart!) Person’s Guide to Mastering Self-Control

If you watched any TV during the 90's, you will probably remember the Lay’s potato chip challenge . Their catchphrase was “Betcha can’t eat just one.” And as those diabolical marketing geniuses predicted, I did find it awfully hard to eat just one and call it a day - and I don’t even particularly like potato chips. Indeed, we all know that many of the things we want most dearly in the long-term (e.g. becoming a great clarinetist, publishing a book, having healthy teeth) require…


The Sneakier, More Insidious Form of Procrastination (and What to Do about It)

The Sneakier, More Insidious Form of Procrastination (and What to Do about It)

Final exams. Auditions. April 15th. What do these have in common? They’re deadlines. A final date by which we have to submit a body of work. So we count down the days, drag our feet, and shake our fist at the fast-approaching date. Because as much as we may want to earn a 4.0 GPA, win a principal job, and remain on good terms with the IRS, turning these goals into reality takes work. And deep, thoughtful practice/writing/analysis isn’t always the funnest thing in the world. Especially when we…


How Effective Is Mental Practice, Really?

How Effective Is Mental Practice, Really?

The great pianist Arthur Rubinstein is said to have learned Franck’s Symphonic Variations by engaging in mental practice on a long train trip, playing it on a piano for the first time at the first rehearsal. Is this just the stuff of legend? Or are feats of learning like this possible for us “normal” folks? To what degree can we learn, memorize, and play pieces that are at our ability level without the benefit of an instrument to practice on? Mental practice vs. physical practice A team of…