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…


Musical Charades: Should This Be Part of Your Regular Practice Routine?

Musical Charades: Should This Be Part of Your Regular Practice Routine?

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes I’m not sure why it began appearing in their YouTube feeds, but in the last few weeks, my kids have become mildly obsessed with a channel called TwoSet Violin, run by Australian violinists Brett Yang and Eddy Chen. Partly educational, partly comedy, and seemingly full of inside jokes (like recurring references to the mythical Ling Ling, who practices 40 hours a day...), videos range from blind listening tests of violins and bows at various…


Erik Ralske: On How to Develop a Stronger Internal Pulse, and the Paradoxical Benefits of Giving Yourself Permission to Miss Notes

Erik Ralske: On Developing a Stronger Rhythmic Pulse, and the Paradoxical Benefits of Giving Yourself Permission to Miss Notes

When I was growing up, I always thought learning music followed a pretty simple, logical, linear path. Learn the notes. Play those notes in tune. With a pretty sound. Add dynamics, articulation, make sure I’m honoring the Italian words, and that everything sounds “musical.” Or in other words, accuracy first, musicality second. I was also severely allergic to metronomes. And I rationalized my avoidance by telling myself that subdividing was a sure-fire way to sound more robotic and…


How Long Does It REALLY Take to Form a New Habit?

How Long Does It REALLY Take to Form a New Habit?

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes Whether it’s starting your morning off with a cup of coffee, brushing your teeth at night, or checking email as soon as you log into your computer at work, we engage in a lot of behaviors every day that are, essentially, automatic. Where we don’t have to consciously tell ourselves to do them - we just act out of habit. Some of these habits (like turning off the lights when we leave a room) are good things, but others (like chowing down on…


The Misinterpreted-Effort Hypothesis, and Why We Often Practice Less Effectively than We Could

The Misinterpreted-Effort Hypothesis, and Why We Often Practice Less Effectively than We Could

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes When my kids were in elementary school, I remember that studying for tests was pretty straightforward. Sure, they had to put in the time, but the teachers made it pretty clear what they needed to study. In middle school, of course, the teachers started to become a little more hands-off.  And now, as I’ve watched my oldest begin his first year of high school, it’s clear that he’s not only having to think more independently about what to study,…