How to Keep Bad Dreams From Freaking You Out in the Days Before a Big Performance

How to Keep Bad Dreams From Freaking You Out in the Days Before a Big Performance

If you’re a fan of the show Friends, you may remember the episode where Phoebe is mad at Ross, and nobody - including Phoebe - knows exactly why (click here for a short video of the key scenes). And when they finally figure out a strategy to find out why she’s mad, it turns out that she was mad because Ross said she was boring - as they were playing chess on a frozen lake, right before he took off his energy mask, revealing that he was actually Cameron Diaz. Needless to say, this is…


How Do Fear, Anxiety, and Other Negative Emotions Affect the Learning Process?

How Do Fear, Anxiety, and Other Negative Emotions Affect the Learning Process?

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes I once read a story about the violinist Isaac Stern, in which he was confronted by a fan backstage after a concert. Gushing at how beautifully he played, she exclaimed “I’d give my life to play like you!” To which Stern curtly replied, “Lady, that I did!” Studying music - especially in the context of summer festivals and school - can of course be an incredibly positive experience with many meaningful, inspiring, and fun moments. But there can…


Quirky Pre-Performance Rituals: Do They Really Work?

Quirky Pre-Performance Rituals: Do They Really Work?

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes A student recently told me of an old Italian tradition among singers, where some would not go on stage to perform until they found a bent nail backstage. Even Pavarotti is said to have engaged in this ritual. Other musicians like Led Zeppelin, John Legend, and Beyoncé have described their own quirky pre-show rituals. And many athletes are known for their unusual game-day or pre-shot rituals as well. Most of the pre-performance rituals that…


How to Use Positive “Trigger Words” for More Expressive Performances

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes Getting into the character of a piece, right from the first note, can sometimes be a challenge when there’s no long orchestral tutti to help set the mood. Or if you have to switch from one orchestral excerpt to another in an audition where it’s all on you. Musicians have been known to write key words or phrases at the top of excerpts, like this, or this. Which seems like a pretty handy way to remind ourselves what we want to say with the…


How Many of Our Worries Actually Come True?

How Many of Our Worries Actually Come True?

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes What if I get the shakes in studio class? What if I mess up this gig, and don't get invited back? What if I started getting serious too late? What if things don’t work out? What if the aggregate total of jelly in the donuts I'm bringing home exceeds TSA's carry-on limits, and I can't get through airport security? It’s pretty easy to get stuck in a cycle of worries and what if’s. And to become increasingly anxious and stressed out as we dwell…