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Deliberate practice according to a professional

Noe Kageyama is a Juilliard-trained violinist who is now a sport and performance psychologist.  He discusses the famous work by Ericsson and subsequent scholars on deliberate practice — there seem to be hundreds of blog and popular press articles that do this — but then goes on to give specific advice with rich, sophisticated examples that will make sense to serious musicians, because Kageyama speaks with deep personal experience and authority.

Even a few years of music training benefits the brain

From Scientific American:

Scientific evidence suggests that even a little music training when we’re young can shape how brains develop, improving the ability to differentiate sounds and speech.

Christie Wilcox, “Even a few years of music training benefits the brain“, 21 August 2012

Inspiration from one-handed pianist

A bit of inspiration for all of us sitting long hours at the keyboard, struggling to make progress: Nicholas McCarthy, born with only a left hand, just graduated from London’s Royal College of Music (piano performance).

We all have bad days at the keyboard

When is mood music good for you?

Based on a recent scholarly article, “Should People Pursue Feelings That Feel Good or Feelings That Do Good? Emotional Preferences and Well-Being,” an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education that discusses whether angry moods are sometimes good for us, and how music that induces different moods might affect our performance (in non-musical activities) in different ways.

Trying to be happy all the time can make you unhappy. You should make room for less smiley emotions—like, say, anger.

Music as language

Various podcasts (60 mins total) from Radiolab, addressing music as language:

“What is music? Why does it move us? How does the brain process sound, and why are some people better at it than others?”

Music and the brain: summary from psychology workshop

“I think there’s enough evidence to say that musical experience, musical exposure, musical training, all of those things change your brain,” says Dr. Charles Limb, associate professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins University. “It allows you to think in a way that you used to not think, and it also trains a lot of other cognitive facilities that have nothing to do with music.”

Music: It’s in your head, changing your brain
By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

“Music: It’s in your head, changing your brain”, Elizabeth Landau, CNN

Denk on Ives by Denk

Jeremy Denk is a terrific writer, the best I’ve read among contemporary serious pianists. His blog, Think Denk, is erudite and funny, passionate and inspired.

He recently published an article in The New Yorker. In it he recounts his experience making a professional recording of Charles Ives’s Concord sonata, with reflections on the frustrations, opportunities and challenges of recording.


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Tickle those ivories

A lovely article by David Dubal about the power and joy of playing the piano:

Some of my favorite quotes:


When you commune with Bach or Schubert, you can reach the heights of Mount Parnassus, where the atmosphere is rarified.

Playing the piano should be an act without material value.

The piano won’t serve the ego’s craving for recognition.

In a clash of wills, the piano will always win.




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Tears for appogiaturas

An article in the Wall Street Journal discussed research, some old. that suggests why certain musical pieces tend to arouse sentiment.  The author focuses on the use of appogiaturas, octave jumps (generally in songs), and transitions from narrow frequency range, low dynamic passages to passages that swell in dynamic and frequency range (think Celine Dion).