Archive | Deliberate Practice

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Well-Documented Failure

One of the funny things about being a former scientist in the orchestral field is encountering musicians’ perceptions of a “scientist.” Among people already in scientific fields, this really isn’t something that ever comes up — we intuitively understand the basics of what we do, and the day to day machinations of our jobs. And this cuts both ways: among orchestral musicians, there are lots of things we can assume as understood when it comes to the rhythms of our lives that are non-obvious to outsiders. Thankfully, I see a growing number of orchestral musicians keenly aware of the need […]

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How Did a Scientist Become Principal Timpanist of the MET Orchestra?

Because I did. I was senior scientist at a nanotechnology company in Chicago for 10 years, and now I’m a tenured member of the great MET Orchestra. But something about this unusual path seems to have stoked some creative legends. I consistently get variations of the following: “I heard you were like some scientist guy, and then one day you won the audition for one of the most competitive timpani positions in the world even though you’d never studied music.” Ummmm…. WHAT?! Yeah RIGHT. I’m also 8 feet tall, kill men by the hundreds, and shoot blue force-lightning from my […]

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