Minnesota Music Educators Association Midwinter Clinic, Invited Talks

Runs Feb 13Feb 14, 2020

1. Talent is Overrated: Teaching Students to Cultivate Discipline and Forge Confidence

February 13th, 2020, 2:15-3:15p

SUMMARY: One of the most enduring beliefs about performing artists is that we’re born with “natural talents” which we develop during our studies in order to reach “our full potential.” Unfortunately, this belief is deeply flawed, damaging to students and teachers alike, and now provably wrong according to decades of accumulating scientific research. In my first of three talks, I’ll confront the notion of “innate talent,” describing both how it was inapplicable to me and the alternative framework I’ve used instead. I’ll specifically discuss how the new paradigm of “earned talent” focuses on skill cultivation and how it can help students avoid the “coasting syndrome.” I’ll highlight the relevant lessons I wish my Minnesota music educators could have told me, including the honest pros and cons of conservatories versus my own liberal arts experience. I’ll finish by examining how your students’ reframed concept of “talent” can forge confidence throughout the rest of their studies…and their eventual careers.
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2. Deliberate Practice: A Recipe for Fastest Possible Student Learning

February 14th, 2020, 1:15-2:15p

SUMMARY: A natural question proceeds from my first talk (“Talent is Overrated”): “If innate talent doesn’t determine who achieves expert-level performance, then what does?” The answer: deliberate practice. A term originated by researcher Anders Ericsson, my second talk will extensively detail the attributes of deliberate practice. I’ll summarize the state-of-the-art research in the field and how I adapted those attributes to my process of auditioning…ultimately resulting in my position in the MET Orchestra. I’ll discuss how deliberate practice requires not only hard work, but SMART work; students who approach their practicing with intelligence and savvy can far outpace those who simply “put in the hours.” Moreover, students will find that the principles of deliberate practice apply to nearly everything else at which they want to improve, whether tennis, chess, writing, physics, or Jeopardy! I’ll detail the attributes of deliberate practice via case studies including practice session design, incorporating continuous feedback loops, and the optimized role of effective teachers.
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3. Applying Deliberate Practice: Harnessing the Power for Best Possible Student Learning

February 14th, 2020, 3:45-4:45p

SUMMARY: Once familiar with the attributes of deliberate practice, ambitious students and educators will want to know “what’s next?” In final talk, I’ll discuss tangible ways I’ve applied deliberate practice, both during my auditioning phase and my current phase “on the gig” at the Met. I’ll recommend ways students of all levels can implement deliberate practice on their own time, as well as ways in which educators can amplify the impact of their teaching by making it more “deliberate”: I’ll detail my rules of thumb for “deliberate lessons,” “deliberate rehearsals,” and “deliberate performances.” Emphasizing an enriching musical journey no matter the destination, I’ll conclude by discussing strategies to maintain willpower coinciding with a fundamental philosophical reorientation: rather than chasing individual outcomes, I decided to focus instead on my PROCESS. Embracing a process of continual refinement, I trusted that positive outcomes would result as natural byproducts…and that was the most important decision of my music career.
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