PETTLEP: A 7-point “How-To” Guide for Visualization

A 7-point “How-To” Guide for Effective Mental Practice

With the Olympics just around the corner, you’re likely to come across an article or two about athletes’ use of mental imagery or visualization in the near future. Because whether it’s to build confidence, enhance performance, or allow for additional practice repetitions without putting excessive wear and tear on their bodies, mental rehearsal has become an essential piece of many athletes’ training regimens. It’s not just Olympians who engage in visualization, of course. I had a student who…


The Most Important Question to Ask Yourself after a Fail, Epic or Otherwise

The Most Important Question to Ask Yourself after a Painful Failure or Setback

In today’s Facebook/Twitter humblebrag culture (like that? there's more here), it’s easy to feel like a big fat failure, who will never sound like that amazing kid in studio class, win a major orchestral job, or receive an invitation to be one of the “and friends” on a prestigious chamber music series. So it’s heartening to see that failure isn’t one of those tiny rain clouds that follows the unlucky few around, but one that dumps on everybody at some point or another (ok, maybe heartening…


The Five-a Model: A Step-by-step Process for Refining Your Technique

The Five-A Model: A Step-by-Step Process for Refining Technique

Have you ever found yourself at a fork in the road with your technique? A time when it feels like you’ve gone as far as you can go with your current approach, and that in order to go to the next level, you have to make a change of some kind? Perhaps you’ve been playing well and advancing at auditions, but realized that in order be competitive in finals, you may have to make a significant adjustment to your embouchure. Maybe an arm vibrato has served you well for many years, but has begun to…


When It Comes to Focus, What Do Elite Athletes Do Differently than Sub-elite Performers?

When It Comes to Focus, What Do Elite Athletes Do Differently?

It’s been said that at the highest levels of competition, physical ability between athletes is relatively equal. That the difference in performance comes down to what is happening inside the athlete’s mind. For instance, Olympic gymnast and gold medalist Shannon Miller once said “In the Olympic games, everyone is talented. Everyone trains hard. Everyone does the work. What separates the gold medalists from the silver medalists is simply the mental game.” Baseball great Yogi Berra once famously…


Frank Almond: On Work, Fun, and the Importance of Both in Dealing with Adversity

NBA coaching great Phil Jackson once said “Not only is there more to life than basketball, there’s a lot more to basketball than basketball.” I think the same could be said for music. It’s easy to get sucked into the daily grind of warmups, scales, etudes, metronome work, slow practice, and simply think of it as warmups, scales, etc. But consider what is happening under the surface while we’re navigating impossible shifts and solving vexing intonation issues. We’re developing the ability to set…