Today Begins Pandemic Year Two

Exactly one year ago today, all of Lincoln Center shut down. The MET Orchestra was subsequently informed we were being furloughed indefinitely without pay. Eight days later, NYC entered full lockdown. And only thirteen days after that, Covid had already killed 10,000 Americans. And so, while the CDC confirmed the first U.S. coronavirus case on January 21, 2020, for me personally the pandemic really began on March 12th. Today marks that dark anniversary — the first year of the pandemic. What follows is my reflection on that first year, and my struggle …

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Blogging in Exile: Ramping Up for a Performance of Beethoven 9 After Nine Months Without Access to Timpani

On November 30th, I sat down to play on real timpani for the first time in 264 days. It was exhilarating. The concussion of each mallet resonated through the rehearsal hall. I welcomed the vibrations I felt in my fingers, hands, wrists, and arms. It seemed both familiar and new. The reverberations were recognizable, but they sounded to my ears almost like a forgotten dead language. I’ll admit I was misty-eyed within thirty seconds as the gravity of that moment began to sink in…. Likewise, on December 18th, I sat down behind …

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The Most Teachable Era In Human History For The Necessity of Expertise

Like every other human being with a conscience, I’ve been watching in horror as virtually the entire United States falls back into the coronavirus hellscape that ravaged New York City so ferociously in April. I’m not sure an English word exists for the particular blend of disbelief, exasperation, enmity, anguish, despondency, inevitability, and rageful numbness that accompanies watching most of the rest of the country fail to learn the lessons for which we New Yorkers paid so dearly. It’s hard to know what to do with these feelings. One of my previous …

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Honoring Anders Ericsson (1947-2020)

Late last week, I learned through a colleague that Anders Ericsson — the intellectual father of deliberate practice — had just died, suddenly and tragically. He was only 73. Anders and I were emailing just a few days prior. This has been a complete gut-wrenching shock. Anyone who has worked with me knows how fully Ericsson’s research permeates everything I do, and everything I teach. And while it may be common for scientists’ work to have important ramifications for advancing understanding, technological development, and public policy, in my experience it’s much rarer …

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Art Has Always Been Political

On election night, November 8th, 2016, I wrote the following in my journal: “Tonight all opera became subversive art.” As the broadest protests in U.S. history have righteously erupted in every major city and many more around the world, I had that journal entry in the forefront of my mind when I posted this on social media: I stand by every word of that post. While I do not intend to refashion my online presence for exclusively political commentary, I believe a moment like this calls us to confront our fields’ deeply …

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