Self-Monitoring, and How “Happy Face” May Have Been a More Potent Practice Strategy than I Realized…

Self-Monitoring, and How “Happy Face” May Have Been a More Potent Practice Strategy than I Realized…

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes One of my enduring childhood practice memories is of the binder my mom maintained, in which she would write out a list of all the things I had to practice in every practice session, with an empty circle next to each one. The idea being, once I had finished working on that part of my practice to-do list, she’d fill in the corresponding circle with tiny eyes and a smile, transforming it into a smiley face. She called this whole process “happy…


Three Different Types of Practice Strategies - Which One Works Best?

Three Different Types of Practice Strategies - Which One Works Best?

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes On occasion, I’ll eavesdrop on my daughter as she does her daily piano practice. And I've noticed that one of her recurring practice habits is the tendency to repeat a tricky passage only as many times as it takes to get it right just once. Sometimes I’ll poke my head out into the hall and ask her to try it again. To see if she really did fix the problem, or just got lucky. And sometimes she'll give it another go - but usually she just…


Menahem Pressler: On following your heart

Menahem Pressler: On Following Your Heart

E.E. Cummings once said “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” For many years, I didn’t understand what that meant. But it’s starting to make more sense. After all, it’s easy to follow a well-worn path, to do the safe thing, or to take others’ advice when it comes to figuring out what we should do with our lives. But artists seem to find their own way. Artists learn to listen to that inner voice, and have the courage to follow – even if they have no idea where it will take…


A Goal-Setting Tweak That Could Be the Difference Between an OK Performance and a Great Performance?

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes Whether you read the book or watched the movie, you might recall a scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, where Harry discovers a magical mirror, called the Mirror of Erised, tucked away in a dusty room. Given that “Erised” is “desire” spelled backwards, you may also remember that the mirror doesn’t show us as we are, but instead, shows the “deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts.”  As Harry’s parents were killed by an evil…


How Exaggerating Technical Errors Could Improve Your Technique

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes I recently had an interesting conversation with a trumpet player, who described an unusual strategy that he used to help students overcome technical roadblocks in their playing. Specifically, in situations where a student might be struggling to hit a note consistently because they couldn’t quite figure out how to get the dozens or hundreds of little muscles involved to do the right thing at the right time. Rather than focusing on honing or…