Recommended reading, viewing, listening & visiting to learn more about the methodology of deliberate practice

Bulletproof Musician, created and curated by performance psychologist Noa Kagayama, combines research and interviews to promote scientifically-backed techniques to improve your process. Indispensable.

Jason Heath is a bassist and educator who has been giving away amazing learning resources to anyone who listens to his podcasts (Contrabass Conversations) or follows his blog. Some of it is bass-centric, but much of it is not. If you are preparing for auditions, he’s interviewed many audition winners, and it’s worthwhile to listen to their stories and their approaches. He took all of his favorite info from those interviews and put them into a podcast series and book called “Winning the Audition.”

Ryan Beach is the Principal Trumpet of the Alabama Symphony, and since 2018 he’s been blogging and podcasting on some of this methodologies for improvement on That’s Not Spit, It’s Condensation!  He also has a series on his podcast called “Winning the Job,” where he interviews many different auditions winners from different instruments on their specific process that led to their audition success.

Josh Jones’s website, Drum Mojo, has a ton of information on how Josh approaches practicing and audition prep. He’s a “Stick Control Obsessive,” and he’s written several of his own books on technique. For anybody looking to improve their audition process, Josh outlines the exact steps he took to win his Kansas City Symphony Audition.

Rachelle Jenkins is a horn player who’s played with many top-tier orchestras and has advanced to many finals with many near-wins. She’s channeled her experience from years on the audition trail into a resource book ($24.99). Her Audition Playbook site also includes helpful interviews and articles on how to improve your process.

John Tafoya remains one of my most important mentors. Beyond his current position as chair of Indiana University’s percussion department, and beyond his former role as principal timpanist of the National Symphony, John’s website curates the most comprehensive database of timpani audition lists…and contains many helpful articles to boot.

Weston Sprott is a good friend of mine. He’s Dean of the Preparatory Division at the Juilliard School, and simultaneously a trombonist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. (Quite the feat.) His site is loaded with thought-provoking articles, and he wrote a specific piece on the audition process he used to win his MET job.

My friend Billy Short is a principal bassoonist of the MET Orchestra, a dedicated teacher at Juilliard and MSM and Temple, and also just a masterful writer. His blog contains a number of truly honest and thoughtful posts about musicianship, auditioning, contending with failure, and the never-ending pursuit of perfection.

Jeremy Epp is both a friend of mine and the principal timpanist of the Detroit Symphony. His site abounds with fantastic and practical advice to improve your practice process. Starting in March 2020, Jeremy’s “Friday Timpani Hangs” have been an incredible respite during the coronavirus pandemic, in which he hosts weekly interviews with other working timpanists.

Toby Oft is the principal trombonist of the Boston Symphony, and his site is filled with great practice advice, including features about audition prep both from his own perspective and from other audition winners.

Ted Atkatz is a friend of mine, founder of TAPS, percussion faculty at Colburn, and the former principal percussionist of the Chicago Symphony. He hosts a wide array of online seminars featuring tons of killer players who give their insights into their own practice processes.

Anders Ericsson’s Peak is the most comprehensive and authoritative resource on deliberate practice yet written. Anders was the intellectual father of “deliberate practice,” both coining the term and kicking off decades of research in the field. Until Anders’ untimely death he remained the field’s most prolific researcher by far. My collaborations with Anders were rooted in the framework he articulated in Peak; it’s an invaluable tome, while still pointing the way forward for so much yet to discover….

Gordon Lund wrote his dissertation on tuba auditions, but the perspectives on audition preparation apply far beyond the tuba. The dissertation, “Orchestral Tuba Audition Preparation: The Perspective of Three Successful Teachers,” focuses on the teachings of three tuba teachers: Daniel Perantoni, Warren Deck, and Mike Roylance. Lund’s dissertation outlines their teaching methods and goes into the details of their specific audition preparation processes.

Charles Duhigg, intrepid journalist and author, wrote one of the most authoritative books on how to evolve your own habits: The Power of Habit. He also maintains a blog tackling wide-ranging topics, and regularly returning to principles of habit-formation and deliberate practice.

Cal Newport is the bestselling author of Deep Work and Digital Minimalism, two essential books for cultivating your deliberate practice process. Newport also invokes deliberate concepts regularly in his blog.

James Clear is the bestselling author of Atomic Habits, and he also maintains an active blog. In particular, he wrote the excellent Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice.

Aside from the AFM’s International Musician listings and, Audition Cafe is one of the best places to find out about upcoming auditions. The site has also featured articles from successful auditioners reflecting on what made them successful.

Additional resources for musicians, opera fanatics, and enthusiasts!


Music resources:

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