Workshops and Presentations
I love meeting fellow musicians and sharing ideas with them that may enhance their teaching, support their well-being, alleviate anxiety, and enhance their performance ability. As an active clinician, I have led workshops at national conferences such as the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, the Music Teacher's National Association, the College Music Society, and the Group Piano/Piano Pedagogy (GP3) Forum, as well as the International Society for Music Education. I also work with teachers at the regional and state level, and give master classes and individual yoga coachings.
“Finding Center: Strategies to Awaken Energy, Clarity, and Focus for Peak Performance" was live-streamed on January 11, 2019 and is archived on the College Music Society website.
Musician Wellness Workshops
Mindful Movement: Applying Yogic Principles to Preschool, Adolescent, and Senior Music Lessons
Yoga is primarily about developing awareness: of breath, body, and movement, all of which work in conjunction to create sound in musical performance. In learning to let go of unnecessary tension while practicing mindfulness, yoga provides a safe tool for enhancing musicality while reducing performance anxiety, improving concentration, and increasing the likelihood of achieving a flow state in performance. For three different populations of students—preschoolers, young adults at the intermediate or advanced level, and senior adults—yoga offers distinct benefits when integrated into group music classes.
Yoga for Musicians: Research on its Physical, Cognitive, and Emotional Benefits
Handout for 2020 International Society of Music Education Conference presentation: "Yoga for All Musicians: A Multi-Age, Multi-Level Tool for Musical Performance Enhancement and Body Awareness"
With the number of musicians suffering from injuries or performance anxiety on the rise, the practice of yoga offers promise to help musicians cope with the demands of their profession. Yoga can instill the skills for efficient, healthy, and mindful practice and can reduce performance anxiety by teaching the skills for relaxation and mindfulness. Furthermore, the body awareness and anatomical understanding built through a regular yoga practice helps musicians develop an efficient technical approach to their instrument. In addition to discussing research findings, the presenter will demonstrate some yoga postures that have particular benefits to performing musicians.
Finding Center: Strategies to Awaken Energy, Clarity, and Focus for Peak Performance
The moments before a performance are perhaps the most important and also the most overlooked period in preparing a musician for either success or failure onstage. Students must use the moments before performance to obtain a clear mind, awaken their energy, and engage the necessary muscles for both deliberate and spontaneous performance. Centering is a technique used in meditation, yoga, tai chi, and martial arts that serves all of these functions while alleviating anxiety and engaging right brain function. The “center” is an actual physical spot in the body that lends strength and energy to the opening notes of a performance. This workshop introduces many different strategies for centering, including breath awareness, mindful movement, imagery, tension release, and self-talk, with sample pre-performance routines for students' unique performance profiles.
Instant Calm: Smart Phone Apps to Decrease Performance Anxiety
Mobile devices are immediately available to the majority of our students, and while social media can actually increase student anxiety, fortunately there are many apps available that can help our students learn to become more relaxed and more mindful with regular use. These apps include cognitive-behavioral tools as well as guided meditation, breathing, progressive relaxation, and imagery, and even biofeedback to help students deepen their breathing and keep track of heart rate variability. This workshop demonstrates how each app can be used both during lessons and outside of the lesson to increase mindfulness and reduce stress.
Facing Fear: Anxiety and the Adolescent Student
Adolescent students today tend to be overscheduled and are also under enormous academic pressure and social pressure due to the ubiquitous nature of social media. Students who learn to be mindful have gained a tool that will help them through any stressful event or personal crisis in their future. In preparing for a performance, finding success even in the face of fear and challenges helps to develop grit. This session will introduce stretches and breathing techniques that can be used before lessons, practice, and performance to help students learn to counteract anxiety for positive experiences with performance.
"Performance Anxiety": Learning to Use Nerves to Your Advantage for Peak Performance
The term "performance anxiety" carries with it many negative connotations. Yet, when phrased positively as "anticipation" or "excitement," students begin to associate extra adrenaline with its many benefits, including more sensitive listening, heightened awareness, and more energy. This session provides strategies to help performers approach performance with a positive mindset so that they will be more likely to achieve optimal performance on a regular basis.
The Musician as Athlete: Implementing Research on Imagery and Mental Rehearsal
While detailed practice leads to polish and preparation, musicians need a different set of skills to attain a more holistic mindset for peak performance. Beginning with a discussion on the similarities between athletes and musicians, the presenter will explore techniques used by sport psychologists to help athletes reach peak performance. These strategies lead to dependable memorization and the attainment of “flow” during performance when combined with the often-neglected areas of wellness such as sleep, proper diet, and self-care.
Sing, Breathe, Move, and Play: Mindful Movement in Children’s Music Classes and Private Lessons
For young children, the practice of yoga provides an opportunity to explore gross motor skills and increase body awareness at a time when the body acts as a sensory receptor for new information. Movement allows children to internalize musical concepts such as rhythm and pitch while increasing their attentiveness and improving postural stability and alignment. This presentation will demonstrate how yoga postures and breath work can be used to reinforce musical concepts and improve technique for the young student.
Performance Enhancement: Strengthening the Mind/Body Connection
The best "practicers" are not always the best "performers." Learning to distinguish between these two mindsets can help musicians to achieve flow, spontaneity, and confidence in approaching a performance. To perform at their peak, musicians must develop the correct mindset to stay in the present and trust the body to react as it has been trained. This experiential workshop leads participants through cognitive strategies including imagery, meditation, and relaxation techniques.
Self-Care and Self-Compassion: The Musician’s Guidebook
Popular media has promoted the idea of bubble baths, pedicures, and vacations as being “self-care,” but the idea of caring for the self goes far beyond temporary pleasures. Self-critical, perfectionistic, and highly driven musicians often base their value and identity solely on their hard work in the practice room and their success in performance. Self-care involves developing an identity outside of being a musician, setting aside time for introspection and reflection, and developing the skill of self-compassion so that mistakes are not seen as failures but as learning opportunities. With proper nutrition, rest, sleep, and a holistic view of wellness, musicians can improve their performance outside of the practice room and reduce their susceptibility to anxiety and injury.
Workshops on Music Teaching
Positive Teaching: Getting the Best Out of Every Student
Very rarely do we come across the “ideal student” who learns quickly, focuses during the lesson, practices well, and sounds musical. Instead, teachers often find that they need to be flexible in their approach to serve the unique needs of a diverse population of students. This requires CARE: Concern, Authenticity, Respect, and Empathy. With a consideration of the factors affecting student success and the symptoms of particular learning disorders, the presenter will share teaching strategies to help even “problem students” improve and stay motivated.
Mobile Learning: Apps for Student Independence and Motivation
Having grown up with smartphones and IPads, millenial students and young "Gen Z" students are always connected, they learn by doing, and they expect fast results. Their multi-tasking lifestyle seems to contradict the focused, detailed practice required of developing musicians. Yet, they have far more access to information that allows for self-study at an individual pace. Apps provide a resource that can be used anywhere for any of the following: note reading, playing in an ensemble, reinforcing rhythm, keeping a practice journal, studying technique, sight-reading, organizing sheet music, and composing.
Feel the Beat in Your Feet: Whole-Body Movement for Rhythmic Development
Whole-body movement allows students to develop a sense of rhythmic pulse, gesture, and flow for energy and musicality from the beginning lessons. This presentation shows video footage to illustrate how props such as balls, scarves, hula hoops can be used along with body percussion, movement, and dance with students in the first two years of study as well as intermediate students.
Why is my Gifted Student Struggling? Characteristics and Teaching Strategies of the Gifted and Twice Exceptional Student
Gifted students are often characterized as having asynchronous development, being perfectionistic, and having “intensities” or “overexcitabilities” (OEs). Gifted students with a learning disability such as ADHD, dyslexia, or autism are referred to as “twice exceptional,” or 2E. This workshop will cover characteristics of the gifted and 2E student along with information about how these traits might appear in music lessons. Teachers will learn practical strategies for working with these students to keep them motivated and engaged during the lesson.