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…


Have Difficulty Staying Awake During Mental Practice? Try

Have Difficulty Staying Awake During Mental Practice? Try "Dynamic" Mental Imagery Instead!

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes Whether you’re recovering from an injury, trying to do some last-minute cramming before a lesson, or have neighbors who don’t enjoy trumpet excerpts at 11pm, mental imagery is a practice technique that many musicians and athletes have relied on for years. And research suggests that engaging in both mental and physical practice leads to better performance than physical practice alone. But if you’ve ever tried to incorporate mental practice into…


An Easy-to-overlook “hack” for Enhancing Concentration in the Practice Room

An Easy-to-Overlook “Hack” for Enhancing Concentration in the Practice Room

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes Have you ever found yourself spacing out while practicing? Where you suddenly “come to” and realize that your fingers have been moving, but you have no idea what you’ve been working on? Maintaining focus and concentration is a common challenge in the practice room. When asked, my advice has generally been something along the lines of making sure you have clear goals for each practice session and for each repetition. Or, practicing at a more…


Does It Help (or Hurt) to Have Friends and Family in the Audience?

Why a Supportive Audience Could Paradoxically Lead to a Worse Performance

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes We’ve all heard of the “home-court advantage” in sports. How athletes perform better when they’re competing in front of cheering, supportive fans. The idea makes perfect sense, but there are also many instances of athletes choking in front of their home crowd, missing crucial shots, or making boneheaded plays at the worst possible moments. So when a student recently mentioned that they were feeling extra pressure before an upcoming audition,…


Julie Landsman: On Getting into the Zone and Developing Trust in Your Playing

Julie Landsman: On Getting into the Zone and Developing Trust in Your Playing

I think most string players would have to admit that at some point in their lives, they showed up for an orchestra rehearsal less prepared than they’d like to be. At least, I certainly remember the week during my first big summer festival when I felt overwhelmed by the part to Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta , and “hid” in the section a bit during rehearsals (and ok, part of the concert too). Not one of my prouder weeks, but something a string player can get away…