Your Heart Is in Your Hands

I once zoomed in on Peter Serkin’s hands with binoculars from the balcony of Carnegie Hall. He was playing an extremely virtuosic contemporary piece that had his hands running all over the keyboard. As usual in watching any great instrumentalist, I sat there stunned -...

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What Progress Looks Like

My student Marina cheered me up so much at her lesson last week. She’s been living with a practice related injury for at least 20 years, and now, after working with me for a few months, she’s having an amazing breakthrough. To recover from the injury, Marina has had...

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A Path to Freedom

I recently posted a video on Facebook that brought many comments – people couldn’t understand how this pianist was playing with so much freedom and fluidity with so little body movement. The pianist in the video is me, 35 years ago. And although I understand how I...

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Light at the End of the Tunnel

Thursday night I attended a livestream performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra, featuring the Piano Concerto in One Movement by Florence Price, a brilliant Black composer whose works were “historically erased” for decades. Written in 1934, the score of this...

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Discovering What Playing Music Can Be

My student Seth plays lead guitar in the Avett Brothers—a band that has often performed for audiences of 20,000 or 30,000 people. He came to me because he wanted to learn how to play Mozart. Seth already had experience playing the piano, and in his few months of...

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All the World’s a Stage

“First of all,” I said, “how are you doing with this virus situation?“. The person on the other end of the phone was a customer service representative at my Internet provider company. I had no idea who she was apart from that. But I knew she was one of us. One of the...

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Arising from Our Longing to Connect

I’ve been working hard for a few weeks to bring our new program to life—the online summer program for the Art of Practicing Institute. We knew we had to make it happen. But how could we turn this phenomenal in-person program, normally held on the beautiful green...

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A Time for Gentleness

Last Thursday, my brother sent me an article about the coronavirus that stunned me. I canceled my plans to leave on Saturday for a meditation retreat in Vermont and am doing my retreat at home. By Friday I had asked all my students to switch to online lessons. Then...

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Memorization or Intimacy? Laura’s Story

This story describes how our anxiety about having a memory lapse in performance can be overcome by cultivating our natural coordination and our natural responsiveness to sound “I was the kid who sat at the piano for three hours playing and singing every day when I was...

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