About Madeline Bruser
Hi. I’m Madeline.
I’m a pianist, educator, and author, and I love helping pianists take their playing to a whole new level and give it to the world.
Through my transformative approach – the Art of Practicing – each musician learns to identify what’s specifically preventing them from expressing themselves fully and freely. Then I work with them on a set of proven techniques to break free of these limitations so they can perform with more confidence and expressive power.
I’ve helped hundreds of pianists, including seasoned concert artists, take their playing beyond what they imagined was possible.
How did I develop this approach?
I started out on track for a concert career, and in my 20s I performed as soloist with the San Francisco and Denver Symphony Orchestras.
But at 29 I had a crisis of confidence. I was getting close to the age limits for the big piano competitions, and I desperately wanted to take my career to the next level.
Many people suggested that I play a New York debut recital. So I auditioned for a grant to fund the debut, and … it was a disaster. Walking out to play for the judges, I knew I didn’t belong there. When I started playing my hands felt out of control, and I made some bizarre mistakes. I wanted to disappear.
This painful experience made one thing obvious: If I was going to advance in my career, I needed a whole new kind of relaxation and confidence onstage.
A couple days later, I remembered that I’d tried mindfulness meditation the previous year. It didn’t seem to do anything for me back then, and I didn’t stick with it. But now, after this devastating audition experience, I had a vague memory that meditation had calmed me down, and I started thinking that it might bring me the kind of relaxation and confidence I wanted as a performer.
Did it ever.
Meditation helped me relax and focus, and that led me to discover a completely new approach to practice and performance. My playing and teaching radically improved so that my whole musical life became much more enjoyable and fulfilling.
Even my piano technique was transformed. Instead of moving my torso a lot when I played, I found myself sitting relatively still, with my arms moving more freely than before, and with a whole new awareness and enjoyment of the musical energy that was filling me up inside.
Over decades of teaching I’ve honed this approach to help not only pianists but other musicians as well open up their playing and change their musical lives.
If you’re ready to discover new possibilities in your playing by breaking free of habits that are holding you back, take the first step now, and set up a complimentary consultation.
Here’s to more expressive freedom in your performances!
Author of the acclaimed book The Art of Practicing, Philadelphia-based pianist Madeline Bruser has taught musicians from Italy, Spain, England, Denmark, the Netherlands, Romania, Kosovo, Greece, Kenya, Israel, Australia, Korea, China, Japan, Indonesia, Canada, and the US, both in person and online. Committed to helping musicians release physical and mental tension, she includes mindfulness-awareness practices in her teaching to help musicians transform their playing. Her book has sold 90,000 copies in English and has been translated into Chinese, Korean, and Italian.
Inspired to help more musicians unleash their full potential, Madeline founded the Art of Practicing Institute, offering a weeklong summer program and online master classes throughout the year. The Institute provides training in mindfulness techniques, community support through discussion groups, in-depth musical work in master classes, and teacher training workshops.
Madeline has served on the Committee for Pianists’ Wellness for the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, has helped dozens of pianists recover from practice-related injuries, and has helped free others from dependence on beta blockers in getting past performance anxiety. She has presented on injury preventive piano technique at the MedArt World Congress on Arts and Medicine and at Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC. In March 2022 she was a featured speaker at a Performing Arts Medicine Association conference in Tampa Florida.
An authorized instructor of mindfulness meditation in the Buddhist tradition, Madeline has presented mindfulness in secular contexts for more than 30 years. Since 2013 she has taught the annual, weeklong summer program “Mindfulness, Confidence & Performance” at Edinboro University. She contributed the chapter “Making Music” to The Mindfulness Revolution, a book featuring the writings of leading experts in the field of mindfulness, including Jon Kabat-Zinn. The audio of her unique Performing Beyond Fear exercise was released in 2017. She frequently teaches workshops on Mindfulness, Confidence & Performance at conservatories and college music departments, including the Juilliard School, Mannes School of Music, the University of British Columbia, and Northwestern University,
Madeline has performed as soloist with the San Francisco and Denver Symphony Orchestras and was featured on National Public Radio’s Performance Today in an interview and piano lesson broadcast in 200 cities.
She has served on the Adjunct Piano Faculty at Teachers College, Columbia University and at the New School University, and has taught graduates of Juilliard, the Manhattan School of Music, Cincinnati Conservatory, and many other leading conservatories.