Lori Schiff: On How Alexander Technique Can Enhance Learning and Performance Under Pressure

Alexander Technique has been around for over a century, and is taught in many schools and conservatories around the world, so it’s very likely that you’ve heard a friend, teacher, or fellow musician mention it at some point or another. But what is it, exactly? If you’re like most, you might not be so sure. Is it about breath control? Learning how to stand or play with good posture? Or maybe about injury prevention? Releasing tension? Does it involve stretching? Is it like yoga? And is it…


Does Focusing on Musical Expressiveness in Performance Come at the Expense of Technical Precision?

Does Focusing on Musical Expressiveness in Performance Come at the Expense of Technical Precision?

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes It’s been said that “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”1 Indeed, there are few (if any) quick fixes in the practice room. No one weird trick-type effortless "solutions" that can completely eliminate our intonation challenges or give us impeccable rhythm. So when we stumble across something that does legitimately lead to an immediate improvement in our playing, it can be a pretty cool moment. In last week’s post, we explored a…


A Shift in Your Mental Focus That Could Help You Produce a More Beautiful Sound on Stage

A Mental Shift That Could Help You Produce a More Beautiful Sound on Stage

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes Did you ever have a teacher who suggested that you imagine projecting your sound to the last row in the balcony? Not by forcing things, of course, but to use the image of filling the hall with your sound, so that even your pianissimos would carry to the very back? I imagine most musicians have been given that advice at some point or another. Because playing in a big hall does require more from us than playing in the practice room. But sheesh,…


Why Worrying about Shaky Bow Just Makes Things Worse (and What You Could Focus on Instead)

Why Worrying about Shaky Bow Just Makes Things Worse (and What You Could Focus on Instead)

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes The summer after my sophomore year in college, I flew to Jerusalem to meet some old friends, with whom I’d be participating in a chamber music bootcamp of sorts. An intense couple weeks of daily master classes with musicians like Isaac Stern - and many others whom I never imagined I’d ever have the opportunity to meet. Naturally, I wanted to make a good impression. But I was pretty intimidated by their presence, and the level of the other…


Jay Larranaga: On Becoming the Best Version of Yourself That You Can Be

Jay Larranaga: On Becoming the Best Version of Yourself That You Can Be

As a kid, watching TV was more of an occasional treat than a daily staple. Where my mom would usually tell me to stop watching Chips or Knight Rider, and do homework, read, or practice instead. Except when the Olympics were on, at which point there were a few times she’d encourage me to watch more TV. Hoping, I think, that I’d be able to learn from and perhaps be inspired by the athletes’ dedication, focus, and resilience. Which might explain why I’ve always been a big fan of…