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…


Get into a Better Pre-Audition Headspace with a

Get into a Better Pre-Audition Headspace with a "Heroic" Playlist

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes Whether it’s waiting for your turn at an audition, getting stuck in traffic on the way to rehearsal, or standing in line at Trader Joe’s on a Saturday, much of life seems to consist of...waiting. Which in the grand scheme of things is probably not such a big deal (and might be something worth learning to embrace, as I learned from watching the movie Click ), but sitting around idly with nothing to do does tend to lead to a lot of…


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…


Blaise Desjardin: On Emotion, Technique, and the Kind of Practice That Facilitates Consistently Beautiful Performances

Blaise Déjardin: On Emotion, Technique, and the Kind of Practice That Facilitates Consistently Beautiful Performances

Several years ago, I stumbled across a video of the violinist Pamela Frank sharing some advice she once received from the conductor Yuri Temirkanov about the opening of the Brahms Violin Concerto (click here to watch the clip ). In what she describes as being a total light-bulb moment, he explained that “To play exciting music, you cannot be excited.” In other words, the Brahms Concerto isn’t exciting because the performer’s heart rate is elevated. The excitement is created by…