Insights and Delights
Insights and Delights
Working with students at all ages and stages for most of my life, I have learned to be a performance coach. My AT,  sensory work  and endless list of unlikely questions have resulted in Sensory Tune-ups and other insights into the world of music-making and teaching. Visit this page for essays, observations and direction for  Using Tune-ups.
spu-enuT yrosneS
Why is this title backwards?  Could you still figure out the words? This is a quick experiment in vision-training, not sight-reading.                                                                                                            
       How are they different?  Sight-reading is about reacting to the unknown. Eye training is about using the eye/brain connection in a variety of ways to help those reactions be smoother.
    Some musicians do not use much peripheral vision, which limits their movement because they don’t realize how much space they have to move through. They get stuck in a small amount of space just like they are stuck in a small amount of vision.
    Some musicians teach themselves to ignore certain visual information. Many pianists are taught not to look at their hands, for example. That is like telling the brain to ignore  part of the visual field, and that is a part of the visual field where a lot of movement occurs.
    Some musicians go into visual lock-down when looking at printed music.  Some musicians learn to do this by spending a lot of time staring at computer screens.
    Since vision and movement work so closely together, Sensory Tune-ups has a whole chapter devoted to experiments with eyes. Click on Table of Contents to see the titles in The Eyes Have It!
    Reflect on the many ways you can use your eyes.
IT from Outer Space
Back in the fifties, there was a sci-fi thriller named “IT from Outer Space”.   A monster so unthinkable, so unlike anything ever experienced before that the only identification possible was the name “IT”, managed to stow away on a space capsule and attempted to hijack the hapless crew.                                              
    Performers sometimes feel hijacked by an “IT”, but it may come from outer space or from inner space.  Or it may come from a combination of both. This IT is called performance anxiety or stage fright or worse names.
    How performers deal with IT varies based on the nature of the manifestation and the value placed on the performance itself. The ability to respond to IT depends also on how performers use their attention.
   Some performers block the audience and their surroundings, which actually has the effect of limiting their options if something goes wrong.  Some performers fear their own experience of nervousness, which reduces their ability to control IT’s manifestations.  
    Sensory Tune-ups includes a chapter of directed entries that explore the experience of going from practice room to performance venue.  In “The Stage Door”, performers can explore their personal responses to performance, wrong notes, varied situations and sensory awareness. Click on Table of Contents for journal headings. Draw, scribble, write, dance, explore your responses and begin the process of flying free of IT.
During my formative years - and beyond - I’ve spent a lot of time warming the piano bench. I’ve also done my fair share of athletic benchwarming. It’s not always easy to sit and wait while others are performing. Even as part of a team, it can be a lonely assignment. But benchwarming does provide opportunities to observe and conjecture about what could be better out there on the field, on the stage, in the lesson.
As a piano and Alexander Teacher, I’m part performer, part benchwarmer, and part coach. It can be a lonely assignment, but it does provide opportunities to observe and conjecture about what could be better out there.
Putting together Sensory Tune-ups, I relied on my powers of observation, my studies, and my experience. I wanted to help students, teachers and performers become their own personal coaches and expert benchwarmers  in the best sense of the word. The result would be better performers, whatever the musical medium or venue. And I wanted it to be easy yet powerful as well as accessible across age and performance levels.
Click here for the  Sample Entry to see how I did this. Click on Where’s Kay? to find where I’ll be next.
Essays on Sensory Coaching