Mindfulness and Musical Perfectionism – the hidden costs of chasing after an unexamined illusion

What is perfection? If someone asked you to describe your own idea of perfection, what would you say? For many musicians, ideas about perfection lie on some continuum between internally imposed and externally influenced idealizations about musical competency. Furthermore, these idealizations are by definition abstractions rather than the thing itself. The perfect note, phrase, or … Continue reading Mindfulness and Musical Perfectionism – the hidden costs of chasing after an unexamined illusion

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Why attention matters – musings on investigating meditation with musicians

A couple of years ago, I received an invitation to present on the topic of music and mindfulness for a symposium featuring some preeminent researchers. One of these scholars was none other than Richard Davidson, author of The Emotional Life of the Brain, and head of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. … Continue reading Why attention matters – musings on investigating meditation with musicians

Meditation for Musicians – A basic guide

I am often approached by musicians who are interested in learning more about how mindfulness can benefit their work. I've written extensively about the subject in blogs, articles, and other mediums, but have never put the basics down in any comprehensive and accessible manner. For those interested, here is the "handout" I've always promised. I hope … Continue reading Meditation for Musicians – A basic guide

Five things I learned after five weeks of teaching mindfulness to teachers

Earlier this spring, after years of research and personal practice, I decided to finally put my thoughts together and offer a mindfulness-based class on teaching and wellness. The class is modeled after the popular 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program developed at the Massachusetts General Hospital, with readings, practices, and discussions designed specifically for … Continue reading Five things I learned after five weeks of teaching mindfulness to teachers

Stress and Mindful Teaching – beyond content and pedagogy in teacher training

At the last National Association for Music Education (NAfME) research conference, I gave a short presentation on the need for teacher training programs to include strategies for helping educators deal with their internal ecology. I like the term “internal ecology” because it puts the locus of control on what goes on inside our own minds, … Continue reading Stress and Mindful Teaching – beyond content and pedagogy in teacher training

Three breaths – re-engaging during practice and rehearsals

A few weeks ago, my colleague Sharon Paul shared an experience with me that I think demonstrates how powerful even a simple mindfulness-based technique can be in changing the dynamics of a practice session or rehearsal. Sharon is the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Oregon, and is in my opinion, one of … Continue reading Three breaths – re-engaging during practice and rehearsals

Perfection, rumination, and process – using mindfulness to deal with musical perfectionism

I am a recovering musical perfectionist. I wasn’t always like this, but somewhere along the way, play became rigor and the standards on which I judged myself became harder and harder to achieve. Originally, I thought my striving for perfection was a performance thing. In other words – outside of playing trombone, I thought I … Continue reading Perfection, rumination, and process – using mindfulness to deal with musical perfectionism

Mindless versus mindful practice – the benefits of a nuanced and self-reflective approach

In today’s fast-paced and over-stimulating world, few of us feel like we have the luxury to stop, breathe, and take a moment to reflect on our internal experience. Personally, I’ve had many days when I felt so busy that I found myself operating almost entirely on habit and instincts. Harvard psychologist Elaine Langer has described … Continue reading Mindless versus mindful practice – the benefits of a nuanced and self-reflective approach