What You Don't Know About Deliberate Practice

Mar 18, 2018

Do you understand “deliberate practice?” If you don’t you’re not alone.

Much has been written about deliberate practice since K. Anders Ericsson, a Swedish psychologist and professor at Florida State University, first wrote about it in the 1990’s. Ericsson’s research led him to the conclusion that it was not so much innate ability that led the highest...

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Tempo Is Not a Number

Mar 11, 2018

“Tempo is not a number,” I said to my student.

My student was trying hard to work his piece up to speed, one metronome notch at a time, and was still some distance from the metronome mark printed on the page. I thought his current tempo was actually fine and told him so.

“But it’s not the right speed,” he said.

“It’s a good speed,” I countered....

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Do You Worry About the "What-Ifs" ?

Mar 04, 2018

Do you suffer from the "what-ifs"?

My student was preparing for an important performance. We still had two or three lessons before the date, and I was confident she was prepared.

But at her next lesson she surprised me. Her playing was excellent, but she didn’t have the confidence in her playing that I did. She had a case of the “what-ifs.”

  • What if they don’t like me?...

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Repetition: Mindless or Mindful

Feb 25, 2018

Much has been said – and I have said my share – about how to practice. Practicing with intention, deliberation and focus is the practice method that separates the successful musicians from the rest. (By successful musicians, I don’t just mean those with big music careers. Every musician is successful who is learning, playing, sharing and enjoying her music in ways that are...

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Rejecting Perfection

Feb 18, 2018

Perfection has its good points, I guess. I wouldn’t  know because I’ve never been there.

Perfection appears to us as an ideal, our Mount Olympus, the place we strive for. It is that ever-elusive musical rabbit we chase in each practice session and every performance.

But is perfection really a suitable goal for a musician?

Perfection isn’t just a nearly impossible task. I...

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Sophia Dussek: A Valentine’s Day Tribute

Feb 11, 2018

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I found myself reflecting again on how much of our harp music we owe to love and romance. I don’t mean that harp music is “romantic,”  though certainly much of it could be interpreted that way. Rather, there is a substantial portion of harp literature that  was composed by someone who loved a harpist.

The harpist was often a...

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Practicing Technique the Right Way

Feb 04, 2018

Practicing technique is a cornerstone of a musician’s long term growth and daily practice habit. But that doesn’t mean that every moment you spend in technical practice will be well-spent.

Technical practice has one very clear objective: to solidify the habits that make it possible to you to play the music you want. A good technical  foundation gives you the ability to worry...

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Advocating for Digital Music

Jan 28, 2018

Composer Milton Babbitt with the RCA Mark II

Synthesizer

I like digital music and I’m not afraid to say it. Surprised?

If that statement pulls the figurative rug out from under you, you may feel on firmer ground by the time you read to the end…

Electronic music, or digital music, has a history well over a century old. With the development of the telegraph in the 1830’s and...

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Strategic Practice: Why Are You Practicing?

Jan 21, 2018

Before you can do strategic practice, you need to answer this question: Why exactly are you practicing?

Because you have to, of course. Duh.

Yes, but the question is still, “Why?” The answer is important, because the practice you do must be tailored to get the results you want. Without knowing why you are practicing – the goal you want to achieve – your practice might be...

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Working Miracles: The Story of Anne Sullivan

Jan 14, 2018

Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan

I have a famous name: Anne Sullivan. Not because of my own accomplishments, but because of the woman called the Miracle Worker, the real Anne Sullivan. I don’t believe there is any genealogical connection between the two of us, but I have always been drawn to her story.

Her real first name was Johanna, but it she always went by Anne or Annie. Her early...

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