How (and Why) Giving Students Choices, Can Dramatically Improve Learning

How (and Why) Giving Students Choices, Can Dramatically Improve Learning

Maybe it’s just my inner control freak, or all those years of violin practice, but whether my kids are practicing piano, Taekwondo, or Mario Kart, it’s very tempting to intervene and direct their practice. Like telling them what to work on, how to work on it, and so on. But then I watch as they try to solve problems in other parts of their life. And whether it’s learning how to use GIMP to create transparent png’s, or creating a homemade earbud holder using a sewing machine, felt, and velcro, I…


The Upside-down Bow, and Why It's Valuable to Play in Ways You Never Would on Stage

The Upside-Down Bow, and Why It's Valuable to Play in Ways You Never Would on Stage

One of the most memorable exercises I can recall from my Suzuki days was the one where I was asked to turn my bow the other way, holding it at the tip instead of at the frog. I remember it being more challenging than it looked (and it sort of freaked me out that I might break the bow), but this memory popped into my thoughts the other day and I started to wonder. Was this just a goofy creative thing my teacher did to keep me engaged, or is there a research basis for changing things up like…


Why you may need a

Why You May Need a "Not-To-Do" List to Achieve Important Goals

Whether it’s winning the Tchaikovsky Competition, recording all 6 Bach Cello Suites, running a half-marathon, or starting a blog, have you ever noticed how our underlying motivations tend to change as we pursue our goals? For me, the first few weeks (or months) of preparing for a competition was always a fun and optimistic time. I was full of hope, and felt like with all the time ahead of me, I would be able to get everything learned and polished. I got excited about all the productive…


The upside of boredom

The Upside of Boredom

From Skype to Slack to Google Docs, it’s pretty incredible what we can do with the phones we carry in our pocket. I can video chat live with someone on the other side of the world while sitting on a park bench as my kid plays with friends after school. Or read the latest interesting journal articles while waiting to pick up Chinese food around the corner. In fact, the computing power of our phones far exceed those of the computers NASA used to send Neil Armstrong and other astronauts to the…


Having a Bad Practice Day? Turn It Around with This 3-phase Self-regulation Strategy.

Having a Bad Practice Day? Turn It Around with This 3-Phase Self-Regulation Strategy.

As a kid, I remember enjoying lessons much more than I enjoyed practicing. After all, practicing was always a little unpredictable. I never knew if it was going to be one of those “good” practice days where I improved and sounded better - or one of those “bad” days where I got stuck on a plateau. But in lessons, my teacher would always seem to be able to coax a higher level of playing out of me, and I’d usually leave lessons feeling much more encouraged and optimistic about my playing. At the…