Can’t Shut Off Your Brain and Get to Sleep? This 5-min Exercise Could Help.

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes When I was five, we got a little kitten that we named Lucky. Like most cats, Lucky spent much of her days happily curled up in a cozy ball, or stretched out wherever she could find a sunny patch of carpet to nap in. There were many moments over the years when I would look up from practicing or doing homework, and marvel (a little enviously) at how much of her days were spent napping. Meanwhile, I spent my high school and college years thinking…


Mark Kosower: On Slow Practice, Commitment, and the Kind of Focus That's Associated With His Best Performances

You know how some people just make things look easy, and effortless? Like they never had to practice a day in their life? Logically, of course, we know that’s almost never the case. And there’s always a ton of hard work that goes into developing mastery that nobody ever sees. But some folks do seem to have a knack for finding better ways to practice. Which, like compounding interest, probably adds up in really meaningful ways with each passing hour, week, month, and year. Indeed, I sometimes…


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A "Backwards" Strategy for Cultivating More Passion about Music You're Not in Love With

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes Cellist Mstislav Rostropovich was once asked which of the pieces he programmed on a recital was his favorite. To which he replied, “The one I’m playing at the moment!” (or something to that effect). It is a whole lot easier to deliver a compelling performance of a piece you love, than one you feel totally blah about. Not just because it’s easier to feel connected to the music, but because there is more motivation there to explore the score,…


Should You Be Using a Metronome When You Do Mental Practice?

Should You Be Using a Metronome When You Do Mental Practice?

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes Pianist Leon Fleisher has said that between melody, harmony, and rhythm, rhythm is by far the most important. As the saying goes, timing is everything. And there is indeed something really compelling about how great performers have a way of stretching and compressing time, of playing with great freedom (yet in perfect time), and doing some incredibly nuanced things with the placement of notes - as Yo-Yo Ma elicits in Fleisher’s playing here,…


Why Worrying about Shaky Bow Just Makes Things Worse (and What You Could Focus on Instead)

Why Worrying about Shaky Bow Just Makes Things Worse (and What You Could Focus on Instead)

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes The summer after my sophomore year in college, I flew to Jerusalem to meet some old friends, with whom I’d be participating in a chamber music bootcamp of sorts. An intense couple weeks of daily master classes with musicians like Isaac Stern - and many others whom I never imagined I’d ever have the opportunity to meet. Naturally, I wanted to make a good impression. But I was pretty intimidated by their presence, and the level of the other…