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…


Why an “Improvisational Mindset” Could Be Vital to Reducing Performance Anxiety and Increasing Audience Engagement

Subscribe to the weekly “audio edition” via iTunes Learning a concerto (or a Bach Partita, Paganini Caprice, etc.) takes many hours of diligent, solitary practice. Which can be pretty engrossing at times – but also, pretty lonely. So when I was introduced to chamber music, and experienced what it was like to work together with a group of friends on the same piece of music, it didn’t feel at all like practicing. Partly, because there were times when we did more goofing…