Specific Times When SMART Goals Can Be Counterproductive (and What Strategy to Use Instead)

Specific Times When SMART Goals Can Be Counterproductive (and What Strategy to Use Instead)

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes Fire up your browser, do a search for “goals,” and you’ll probably see something about SMART goals within the first few hits. Because whether it’s school, sports, business, diet/exercise/fitness, or personal finance, SMART goals are everywhere. Heck, my middle schooler was learning about this in gym class the other day. SMART goals, of course, refers to the idea that we’re more likely to achieve a goal, if the goal is specific, measurable,…


Does a Musician’s Physical Movements and Gestures Affect How Musical We Think They Are?

Do a Musician’s Physical Movements and Gestures Affect How Musical We Think They Are?

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes I can’t remember if I’ve told this story here before or not, but the first time I played for Dr. Suzuki, he remarked that when his eyes were closed, I sounded great. But that when he opened his eyes, I sounded...not so great. Indeed, although I hear I was a pretty rambunctious and chatty little kid, apparently, that part of me disappeared and turned into that guy from Ferris Bueller when I had a violin in my hands.  Of course,…


How to Cultivate Better Rhythm and Avoid Clipping Notes (and Rests) Short

How to Develop Better Internal Rhythm and Avoid Clipping Notes (and Rests) Short

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes The third movement of the E minor Shostakovich piano trio begins with the pianist playing a series of whole note chords, all by their lonesome, before the violin finally comes in at the end of bar eight (click here to take a quick listen). The tricky thing, is that each of those whole notes is held for quite a long period of time. Like anywhere from 4 to 6 seconds per note or longer, depending on what tempo the group chooses to…


For Better Rhythm and Timing, Count With Your Body Too, Not Just Your Mind

For Better Rhythm and Timing, Count With Your Body Too, Not Just Your Mind

Subscribe to the weekly “audio edition” via iTunes As I think about all of the things I remember learning from my teachers over the years, it’s funny the things our brain chooses to remember – years, or even decades later. I’m sure there have been countless moments over the years that were incredibly profound and valuable. But which have since been lost in some hidden corner of my brain or overwritten by some obscure Mario Kart shortcut that seemed vitally important at the…


How Effective Is Mental Practice for Memorizing New Pieces?

How Effective Is Mental Practice for Memorizing New Pieces?

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes Many well-known musicians have described using mental imagery to increase confidence, and hone and refine their skills over the years. There’s a lot of research support out there for imagery too, suggesting that mental practice can indeed be a useful supplement (though not replacement!) to your regular physical practice. So…if visualization can help us increase the level and consistency of our motor skills away from our instruments, could it…