sports

Rule #2 — by Jonathan Thomson

The previous post introduced the concept of Rule #1 (Never Stop), which trains the mind for performance by teaching it to stay focused, even after mistakes. Simulating the timing and continuous playing of performance is a crucial experience to be repeated many times during training. Through Rule #1 practice, we get important feedback about our technical preparation, stamina, and memory (if applicable). Rule #2 is the necessary counterpart to Rule #1: Rule #2: Always Stop! When you are practicing, you must not allow any mistake, uncoordinated motion, scratch, or squeak. If you practice with mistakes or undesirable tone, you are teaching your muscles "this is how the piece goes," and establishing bad habits. The next time you get to the same place, you will make the same error! Instead, start again from [...]

Rule #1 — by Jonathan Thomson

I can still vividly recall the lesson in high school when I first learned of RULE #1 and RULE #2. Somehow, though, I am still unable to impart these crucial principals upon my own students with the same gravitas as my teacher did then. These two general guidelines shaped the way I learned to focus my practice time and prepare my mind and muscles for performance. The more I study about how we learn, and about strategies for mental preparation—things like "chunking," myelin, meditation, visualization—the more I realize how valuable these two simple "rules" have been. We must practice not only for technical mastery, but also for expression. We must imagine future performance scenarios in the practice room. Putting the focus on communication provides the goal to work toward, and the [...]

Sports and Cello: Starting the Discussion — by Jonathan Thomson

  We see the dramatic moment in sports all the time: with the game on the line, a player steps up to shoot the game-winning free throw, kick the field goal, or take the penalty kick. Make or miss, social and news media chatter about these moments for days afterward. Documentaries and TV series offer detailed views inside the lives of athletes and behind-the-scenes depictions of how teams practice and communicate throughout their seasons. An athlete's comments on any issue can reverberate through our society for weeks. Sport is everywhere—it is unavoidable. Though many musicians and teachers may see it as a competitor to practice time and music's place within the culture, athletes and musicians share many common experiences and can learn from each other. While athletes personal lives are [...]

Running After What is Behind You — by Selma Gokcen

Much of our training as cellists has us working long hours, working hard, but are we working smart? Do we know what is productive and what is counter-productive in our manner of working? How do we know? Is it possible to know? Many years after my cello study at the Juilliard School, I hit a wall. I could not go further in my work with the traditional methods of cello technique, cello etudes, additional lessons and hours of practice. It seemed I was going round in a circle.  I finally realised that solution to problems at the instrument might lie somewhere beyond the green pastures I had hitherto spent my life exploring.  I said to myself: Maybe the study of music is like science.  You have to go into the [...]