The Mindset That Makes It Possible to Recover from Setbacks - and Perform Even Better

The Mental Adjustment That Makes It Possible to Recover from Setbacks, and Perform Even Better

Whether it’s a tennis player battling back from match point against to win a tough 5-set match, or a golfer recovering from a subpar front nine1 to win a championship, part of what makes watching sports fun, is the drama of seeing an athlete experience both the highs and lows of competition right in front of us, in real time. Of course, for every instance of a player hitting the game-winner in double overtime, there are plenty more occasions when a player misses the shot, turns the ball over,…


Want New Colleagues to Accept You? Why It’s Important to Assume That They Already Do.

Want New Colleagues to Like You? Why It’s Important to Assume They Already Do.

Audio version When my mom was in her 20’s, and had only been in the US for a short while, she stumbled into an opportunity to teach Japanese at a prestigious university. Though being a native speaker gave her some credibility, she was young, inexperienced, and understandably nervous before undertaking this unexpected challenge. To deal with her pre-first-class jitters, doubts, and uncertainty, my mom would visualize her classroom filled with students who…


Having a couple of drinks before performing - what does the research say?

Having a Couple Drinks Before Performing…What Does the Research Say?

Audio version Historically, alcohol and awkward social situations (think the cat milking scene from Meet the Parents) tend to go hand in hand. But I’ve learned that it’s not unheard of for some musicians to have a drink or two before performing too. In fact, hoping to get a better handle on performance nerves, a friend once did a test - performing one of the Paganini caprices for a few friends while sober. And again after a shot. And after a…


Why being a great ensemble player may require more than just our ears

Why Being a Great Ensemble Player May Require More than Just Our Ears

Audio version It was Week 1 of the first major music festival I’d ever attended. I was barely out of middle school, but found myself sitting in the second violin section, surrounded by college students and seasoned professionals who seemed totally in their element. And who sounded like they’d been playing this repertoire for years. I, on the other hand, was such a newb, that I didn’t even know it was my job as the inside player to turn pages until my stand…


Which Promotes More Productive Practice - Practicing for Time, or for a Set Number of Repetitions?

Which Promotes More Productive Practice - Practicing for Time, or for a Set Number of Repetitions?

Audio version Whether it’s learning how to play the oboe, hit a backhand slice, or type (with all of your fingers, not just your thumbs ), one of the most common ways to set practice goals is in units of time, or a certain number of repetitions. Play the exposition of this piece 5 times. Practice scales in these three keys, with their associated arpeggios for 30 minutes. On the surface, both seem pretty similar. But are they really? Let’s say you…