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,…


Mike Block: On Discovering Your Musical Identity, “exploratory” Practice, and Taking Creative Risks

Mike Block: On Discovering Your Musical Identity, “Exploratory” Practice, and Taking Creative Risks

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the…


Why Highly “Representative” Practice Is so Important - Except When It Isn’t

Why Highly “Representative” Practice Is so Important (Except When It Isn’t)

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes Pianist Leon Fleisher once said something to the effect that playing a note is easy - but playing that note musically is much harder. Which seems related to his teacher Artur Schnabel’s remark that Mozart’s piano sonatas are "Too easy for children and too difficult for adults." However, my tendency in the practice room was always to prioritize technical accuracy over musical intention. To fixate on intonation, rhythm, and quality of sound…


Change This One Word to Get More Useful Feedback From Peers and Colleagues

Change This One Word to Get More Useful Feedback From Peers and Colleagues

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes Playing in front of all of your peers in studio class can be pretty stressful, of course. But in studios where students are expected to provide feedback to those who are playing, listening can be pretty stressful too! I mean, you obviously want to say something thoughtful and helpful - but given how personal giving and receiving feedback can feel, it’s tough to find the right balance of supportive and critical. Like, if we err on the side of…


Can Younger Students Be Taught to Engage in Deliberate Practice Too?

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes Every young musician knows that in order to get better, they have to practice. But when you’re new to practicing, it’s not actually so clear what practicing is supposed to look like. I mean, it’s clear that repetition is involved - that we can see. But the most crucial (and invisible) element of effective practice, are all the essential thought processes that underlie each repetition. The reflection, the analysis, the planning,…