Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been doing what I can to give back to our community by offering a “Pay What You Can” online version of the Deliberate Practice Bootcamp (DPB). Registration is now open for session 6, running June 7-11, 2021 (6:00-7:30p edt, with Zoom replays available for registrants). This week-long seminar is open to all instrumentalists (and lifelong learners of any craft), and it's dedicated to the legacy of the intellectual father of deliberate practice, my mentor Anders Ericsson (1947-2020). DPB's “Pay What You Can” minimum is $25, with all proceeds donated to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Artist Relief charities.
What does a seminar like this mean amid a still-raging pandemic as we attempt to turn the page on some of the darkest chapters in American history? A cornerstone of deliberate practice is feedback, because feedback loops impose accountability. You cannot make real progress in the practice room without honestly reckoning with past problems. It’s not “moving on” versus “accountability.” It’s both. They’re inseparable.
We’re living through a time when tens of millions of Americans have become unmoored from reality, thereby damaging the most basic feedback loop of democracy. But since launching DPB-online last summer, I’ve been increasingly attuned to how its basic precepts intertwine with healthy democratic functioning:
- Evidence-based decision-making
- Consistent feedback grounded in reality
- Clearly-articulated ideals (mental representation models) guiding evolution and improvement,
- Patience to slog it out, through good days and bad, recognizing there’s no “magic bullet,” and
- Pursuing not “perfection,” but rather seeking “more perfect.”
I often say this of musical practice, but I believe the same holds for democracy: it’s not a destination, but rather a continuous process. Throughout our week-long seminar, we'll map out the rigors of that real-life practice process — the scientific method applied to your craft. Our growing Deliberate Practice Community of 400+ alumni — folks spanning all instrument groups and all phases of their careers — have attested they already feel better equipped to tackle the uncertainty of the coming months, because focusing smartly on your craft consequently develops versatile skills you can use to pivot as needed.
While leading these sessions, I draw upon my experience as both Met timpanist (8 years) and physics-trained nanotechnologist (10 years prior) to demonstrate the broad applicability of our musician’s skills. Our featured guest also exemplifies this versatility: Dr. Mark Almond is the associate principal horn of the San Francisco Symphony, a former medical doctor, and a current Covid researcher. We'll discuss our shared conviction that deepening and broadening your skills is one of the best ways to ensure nimble adaptability in the Covid era, ultimately enabling you to choose how to respond to radical change. So, if you’re looking for a way to reaffirm your commitment to evidence-based reality while honing your practice process, consider registering to learn more about the deliberate practice framework, and how it can help you no matter where you’re going.
What Is the Deliberate Practice Bootcamp Online?
Starting in 2017, I’d been hosting the in-person Deliberate Practice Bootcamp (DPB) in my hometown of Minneapolis at the MacPhail Center for Music. (DPB grew out of my Northland Timpani Summit as a way to open the event to non-timpanists in a relevant and helpful fashion, and also out of a semester-long class which I taught at NYU applying deliberate practice to instrumental music and auditioning.) In the Covid era, DPB-online has evolved into my offering for anyone to learn about deliberate practice, and simultaneously fundraise for social justice and artists-in-need.
DPB-online remains absolutely pertinent to your musical craft, but for these Covid-era incarnations I’ve been emphasizing much broader applicability with personal examples and anecdotes pulled from my unorthodox route to the Met, and my eight seasons on-the-job. We’ll explore connections to areas like online digital content, public speaking, technical writing and copyediting, sales and marketing, public relations, process engineering, software coding, applications engineering, intellectual property law, digital rights management, non-profit management, and audio/video production. I’ll specifically detail how so much of what I actually learned was self-taught outside of school, and how you might best emulate that.
We’ll cover craft-refinement topics including:
- Exploring the attributes of deliberate practice (understanding the blueprint and delving into the recipe).
- Refining your practice room process, and demonstrating how efficient practicing is the cornerstone of effective preparation for any recital, high-pressure performance, concerto, or audition.
- Approaching your practice with a healthy mindset and philosophy.
- Performing with “deliberate persuasion”: understanding the hierarchical elements of musicianship, hearing your own playing the way an audience or committee would, and making smart musical choices to persuade them.
- Giving yourself durable feedback via self-recording, and sorting feedback from others according to “actionable,” “maybe,” or “maybe not.”
- Auralizing the ideal excerpt: exploring “mental representations,” and understanding how to compare self-recordings against your “perceived best.”
- Applying the attributes of deliberate practice via takeaway skills like:
- An archival method both to preserve your valuable learning and to emotionally galvanize yourself against the inevitable times when you feel like “I’m not making any progress…”
- “Deliberate lessons”: how do you get the most out of your high-value time with teachers and pros?
- Agile time management, smart repertoire prioritization, cultivating calendar discipline, and formulating a savvy plan for any kind of audition, recital, or competition.
- Practice session design: a minute-by-minute examination of an ideal practice hour, focusing on specific musical priorities, and how to target these via tailored drills and exercises.
- Maintaining practice room focus, and enhancing willpower endurance.
- …and translating all of the skills above out into the “real world” to make the Covid era more sustainable and survivable.
In deference to Covid-era economic hardship, I’m setting a low minimum payment ($25) to make this accessible to as many people as possible. DPB registration would normally be $150, so if you can pay more, please do. Not only will your artist-colleagues-in-need thank you — you’ll be contributing to the ongoing fight for social justice!
To be clear, donating the proceeds from these sessions is a personal luxury, and I want to acknowledge that privilege out of the gate. So many musicians are struggling and suffering in profound ways. Additionally, some musicians are witnessing this era of abundant free content with exasperation: we constantly fight to cultivate the perception that our musical skills have value, and that we deserve monetary compensation for deploying those skills. So, in tandem with my acknowledgement of privilege above, I want to articulate the following: I would ordinarily (and fairly) expect full compensation for this kind of teaching work. But I’m proceeding this way because I can, and because it remains one of the few ways I can make a positive collective difference. Thus, for any musicians justifiably leery of “giving it away for free,” allow me to frame it like this: after covering our costs, I’ll be personally donating the remaining proceeds of my own volition to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund 501(c)(3) and targeted Artist Relief charities.
Deliberate Practice Bootcamp Testimonials
“DPB is absolutely one of the best things in the universe! I'm so glad Jason made this course possible. Using the deliberate practice framework has been life-changing, and indeed turns out useful for anything I practice. I have to admit that I was so afraid of listening to anything I would play, but now thanks to the seminar I've diminished this fear. Thanks so much for the bootcamp!”
~ Maria Lorentz — Bucharest Philharmonic substitute percussionist
“The Deliberate Practice Bootcamp makes powerful knowledge accessible — this is a masterclass in connecting theory and action to achieve tangible change.”
~Dr. Jack Walton — Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University; University of Queensland, School of Music
“Jason's teaching methods are not only for timpanists and percussionists, but apply to any musician trying to attain the highest level of performing. In fact, his principles can be applied to any number of professions outside of music. I was very taken with his straightforward approach, addressing all aspects of achieving excellence without it seeming daunting. If I were thinking of auditioning for an orchestra, or simply wanted a great method to gain consistency of a high level, I would sprint to this bootcamp!”
~ John Rojak — bass trombonist of the American Brass Quintet
“Deliberate practice is a framework that Jason has refined deliberately, and the method he shares via the Deliberate Practice Bootcamp is applicable to any skill. For instance, my graduate students and I are adapting Jason's time management system to prioritize the development of scientific skills such as hypothesis formulation, data collection, and analysis. Deliberate practice is like a sword fight — you must think first before you move!”
~ Dr. Steven Lenhert — professor of cell and molecular biology, Florida State University; avid music technologist
“The Deliberate Practice Bootcamp gave me a methodical approach for improving my practice process after many years of unknowns. The information presented in the bootcamp was very specific and immediately relevant. It played a major role in boosting my confidence and definitely helped me in winning my audition for the Boise Philharmonic.”
~ Alex Artale — principal timpanist, Boise Philharmonic
“The Deliberate Practice Bootcamp has totally transformed the way I'm practicing for the better!”
~ Dr. David Miller — Community Medicine practitioner and Brooklyn-based freelance flutist
“Jason's Deliberate Practice Bootcamp is an incredible opportunity for any musician looking to improve their practice method. Jason provides a thoughtful, detailed look into the principals of deliberate practice and its applications within — and beyond — music, while empowering attendees with all of the necessary tools to maximize their practice efficiency. The affordability of the course combined with Jason's generosity in donating the proceeds to charity make this a no-brainer. I can't more highly recommend DPB to any musician wanting to maximize their potential, no matter their instrument, focus area, or experience level.”
~ Brad Davis — principal timpanist, Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra
“Jason's Deliberate Practice Bootcamp presentation to our undergraduate performance majors — woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussion — was GREAT: an over-the-top hit with our students and faculty! Jason's multimedia approach on how to practice effectively was one of the most inspired, intriguing, and informative classes I've ever attended. Using scientific methods to perfect his art, he will show all who attend his classes the pathway to effective auditioning, performing, and success.”
~ Matt Sullivan — NYU Director of Wind Studies and Professor of Oboe
“After working with Jason, my preparation and productivity had such a huge overhaul that I've improved more in the last two months than in the last two years.”
~ Georgia Williams — principal flute, Opera Australia Orchestra
“I need to include a lot more self-recording and mock auditions in my preparation, and the Deliberate Practice Bootcamp has helped my playing and enabled my ears to be better able at self-diagnosing problems. I'll be making good use of everything I learned during DPB during my remaining studies. Thanks for DPB, and especially for the chance to have my youtube videos critiqued during the feedback sessions!”
~ Parker Olson — B.M. percussion student, New England Conservatory
“Thanks for such a fantastic workshop. I learned so much that I'm going to apply over the next few months. (I've already calendar'd my work blocks for creating my own CAN-archive this month. I'm super-excited about it!) Jason shared his knowledge with such generosity — really, really helpful — and of course his own story and message are both so inspiring. I'm looking forward to future seminars!”
~ Jimmée Greco — freelance clarinetist, Coastside Orchestra
“Thanks to Jason Haaheim for all of his mind-blowing knowledge and inspiration. I would definitely recommend the Deliberate Practice Bootcamp to any musician.”
~ Nathan Ankrom — percussionist, Lakeview Orchestra; M.M. Roosevelt University
“The Deliberate Practice Bootcamp almost feels like cheating: Jason has the answers from the back of the textbook…and he just gives them to you! The next generation of musicians will be divided between those who use evidence-based deliberate practice, and those who don’t win auditions.”
~ Ben Rigney — acoustics consultant; M.S. Architectural Acoustics, Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute; B.M., Indiana University
“I thoroughly enjoyed DPB. I admire the whole premise, and as soon as I heard Jason was running it this summer I thought ‘oh I am SOOOO on board with this right now.' Jason's generosity of time, knowledge, AND funding means a lot to the classical music community at large. I gained a great amount of knowledge from DPB. I've been an avid follower of Jason's blogs, and gained a huge amount of information and direction from them. But experiencing Jason's live presentations added so much to it. I'll be digging back through the slides and replays to redesign my audition process. Plus, the Covid era gives me plenty of time to do the ‘homework/research' tasks Jason discussed. I also appreciated how much Jason discussed leveraging our musical skills into other disciplines. This is all to say: DPB was a wild success!”
~ Dave Tarantino — Philadelphia-based freelance percussionist, Play On Philly teaching artist, DMA Boston University
“Thanks to Jason and his team for making DPB available online, and at such an affordable price! I really appreciate it. Especially in these daunting times, it's very encouraging to participate in such an inspiring and stimulating course! I'm looking forward to future events!”
~ Premanjali — DMA candidate in piano performance, Griffith University
“The Deliberate Practice Bootcamp is a terrific program. In our ‘smart' technological world, Jason incorporates all the latest science-based research on practicing with good old fashion grit. As a violin teacher and conductor, I'm always looking for smart and efficient methods for teaching and rehearsing in order for my students to achieve maximum results. DPB-online gave me invaluable tools to incorporate in my everyday teaching and rehearsing.”
~ Dr. Simon Shiao, professor of violin and director of orchestras, University of North Florida
“The Deliberate Practice Bootcamp has completely overhauled how I practice, and how I think about practicing. After only one week, I'm already seeing improvement. The information presented here is invaluable, and luckily I have the Zoom replays to review. Those replays are a key component — there's just so much good information presented that it's nearly impossible to get it all on the first pass. I'm looking forward to second, third, and further reviews! THANKS…for the course, and for the knowledge. I've never been more hopeful about my prospects for an orchestral career.”
~ Jay Dubin — Broadway substitute clarinetist, Klezmer soloist for “Fiddler on the Roof”
“The five energizing evenings of DPB have motivated me to make my practice time much more systematic. I’m convinced that deliberate practice is groundbreaking for learning music, that it serves a necessary and important social purpose for music students, and that it extends to lifelong learners — i.e., folks with the humility and wisdom to remain perpetual students in their disciplines. I so appreciated Jason's scholarly approach building on Anders Ericsson’s work: his scientific approach analyzing the preparation process as if it were a puzzle, formulating a hypothesis of how to tackle problems, designing and applying tools, tracking practice methods, recording audition results, and reaching an impressive conclusion (winning the Met Opera!) Bravo for the well-prepared webinars!”
~ Dr. Martin Kluger — principal timpanist, Springfield Symphony MA, and former Yale Medicine Immunobiologist