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Feeling better about practice: the peak-end rule

Kahneman and Tversky, in their many studies of cognitive biases, discovered the “peak-end rule”: our emotional memories off experiences are disproportionately affected by the end of the experience. For example, they had subjects submerge their hands in painfully cold water for 30 seconds, then another time but with an additional 15 seconds added, but at a slightly more comfortable temperature at the end. They preferred the longer session of torture, and remembered it as less painful.

Noe Kagayama, in his blog Bulletproof Musician, suggests that this finding can be used to design practice sessions (or lessons, if you are a teacher) that are remembered as more pleasant.


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The Bulletproof Musician

Just discovered this site — seems to have a wealth of useful advice and wisdom. Primary focus on helping musicians deal with performance anxiety, and also on more effective practice. But lots of other areas of advice as well. The Bulletproof Musician


How much practice? Less if deliberate

A nice article on the advantages of mindful (deliberate) practice.


Why and how to make better practice with “random” practice schedules

A plausible argument (with some research, though mostly not about music practice) for using random rather than blocked (massed) practice. “Why the Progress You Make in the Practice Room Seems to Disappear Overnight.”


Falling (water) music

Wow.  The cleverness (and programming patience) of folks amazes me.

Falling music

The oldest living Holocaust survivor, and oldest pianist?

Alice Herz-Sommer is the oldest known living Holocaust survivor.  She was a concert pianist before being sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp, where she played over 100 concerts including Chopin’s complete etudes (from memory).  She was married to Leopold Sommer (who died at Dachau) and her son (who was interned with her) Raphael was a distinguished cellist and composer. Famous music documentarian Christopher Nupen filmed her for “Everything is a Present” when she was 98.

Now there is a new documentary about her, “The Lady in Number 6“.  She’s still playing the piano, at 109 years old!


Consider helping a new composer

I received a request from Jeffrey Leiser to mention his Kickstarter campaign to fund a full orchestra recording of his new symphony, “The Summit”.  I’m happy to pass along the request, with no particular endorsement.  I don’t know Leiser, or other music by him.  But he’s a talented fellow, having scored and sound edited many films, and apparently won a Park City Festival gold medal.  Here is the link to his Kickstarter campaign  and the link to his website.

Preparing for performance (anxiety)

Some tips from a fabulous teacher and experienced performer – Polly van der Linde — on how to prepare for performance.  Polly runs a piano camp that has been in her family for over 40 years: summer camp for kids, and 4 and 10 day sessions for adults year round.

Pollini’s piano

A lovely, loving article about the beautiful tonal quality of Maurizio Pollini’s Hamburg Steinway-Fabbrini piano (which he takes with him on tour), with some history of the evolution of tone in concert grand pianos.  Makes me wonder wistfully if I should have searched longer for a rebuilt 1920s Steinway rather than get a factory new New York B a few years back.

Bach’s Crab Canon on a Mobius Strip

The first canon from Bach’s Musical Offering, BWV 1079, illustrated cleverly as a Mobius strip (wait for it to come about 2/3 of the way through the video).  A crab canon is a form in which the notes are first played forwards, then in reverse order, then forwards and reversed against each other.  Cool!