A Comparison of Two Types of Anti-Choking Strategies

A Comparison of Two Types of Anti-Choking Strategies

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes A few years ago, we took a look at a simple technique to prevent choking, that was actually so simple, it didn’t seem like it could possibly work (you can re-read it here). Essentially, it involved squeezing a soft ball in one’s left hand for 30 seconds before performing a skill. Wait...that's it? The rationale is that paying too much attention to the mechanics of a skill tends to lead to choking. And this unhelpful type of self-focused…


Lori Schiff: On How Alexander Technique Can Enhance Learning and Performance Under Pressure

Alexander Technique has been around for over a century, and is taught in many schools and conservatories around the world, so it’s very likely that you’ve heard a friend, teacher, or fellow musician mention it at some point or another. But what is it, exactly? If you’re like most, you might not be so sure. Is it about breath control? Learning how to stand or play with good posture? Or maybe about injury prevention? Releasing tension? Does it involve stretching? Is it like yoga? And is it…


Is Good Intonation Really As Important to Audiences (and Other Musicians) As We Think It Is?

How Perfect Does Your Intonation Have to Be?

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes Whether you sing, play the cello, oboe, or bagpipes, you’ve probably had one of those days (or weeks or months) where you became obsessed with intonation. Where you carefully tuned every chord, calibrated every last note with a tuner, and worked diligently with a drone. And maybe even found yourself getting sucked down the Pythagorean vs. just tuning rabbit hole . All of which is incredibly valuable and important, of course…but is…


Does Focusing on Musical Expressiveness in Performance Come at the Expense of Technical Precision?

Does Focusing on Musical Expressiveness in Performance Come at the Expense of Technical Precision?

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes It’s been said that “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”11 Indeed, there are few (if any) quick fixes in the practice room. No one weird trick-type effortless "solutions" that can completely eliminate our intonation challenges or give us impeccable rhythm. So when we stumble across something that does legitimately lead to an immediate improvement in our playing, it can be a pretty cool moment. In last week’s post, we explored a…


A Shift in Your Mental Focus That Could Help You Produce a More Beautiful Sound on Stage

A Mental Shift That Could Help You Produce a More Beautiful Sound on Stage

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes Did you ever have a teacher who suggested that you imagine projecting your sound to the last row in the balcony? Not by forcing things, of course, but to use the image of filling the hall with your sound, so that even your pianissimos would carry to the very back? I imagine most musicians have been given that advice at some point or another. Because playing in a big hall does require more from us than playing in the practice room. But sheesh,…