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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I’m Never Completely Satisfied With My Own Playing…As It Should Be

(The Attributes of Deliberate Practice: Mental Representations) Regular readers: I know it’s been a long time since my previous post. I believe that Mental Representations (the topic of this post) are both the most important and most difficult-to-describe attribute of deliberate practice. Because they are abstract and intangible, they defy easy and succinct definition…so apologies in advance for the length. Anyway, I used my summer hiatus to consider how to write about this topic most effectively…and I’m honestly still not sure how successful that’s been. So it goes. Also during my hiatus, …

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Knowledge is Power…but a FRAMEWORK is Better

(The Attributes of Deliberate Practice: A Framework of Domain-Specific Knowledge) How many numbers in a row can you memorize? Maybe it’s a weird question, but have you ever tried to memorize a really long string of digits? Try it. We’ll start with something reasonably short. How about this? 3  1  4  1  5  9  2  6  5  3  5  8  9  7  9 Stare at that sequence of numbers for a moment, memorize them, then turn away from your screen and try to recall them in order…. (Go ahead. I’ll wait.) […] …

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Enhanced Perception — A Superpower of Deliberate Practice

(The Attributes of Deliberate Practice: Enhanced Perception) Back in 2017, I chaired the audition committee for the MET Orchestra’s co-principal timpani audition, won by my phenomenal colleague Parker Lee. Like most ICSOM orchestra auditions, the first phase is sorting through resumes, and the second phase is listening to applicants’ CDs. The process is entirely blind, so the audition committee is simply voting “yes/no” on a number. In this instance, the CDs contained only six excerpts in the following order: Tchaik 4, Brahms 1, Mozart Magic Flute, Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, Verdi Don …

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What’s It Like Starting at the Met Opera?

Pre-season orchestra rehearsals recommence at the Met this Tuesday, September 5th. I’m thrilled to have 4 brand new colleagues joining the orchestra this season, and thinking about their journey takes me back to September 2013 when I was just starting myself…. Man, what a whirlwind. What’s it like starting at the Met? In many ways, the “starting” part happens long before that first rehearsal. To begin with, you have to find a place to live, and then actually move to New York City. Both are non-trivial tasks which, especially for a timpanist, …

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