What We've Got Here Is a Failure to Communicate

Although music is not a universal language, it can be the perfect medium to express feelings.

Can Science Provide Insight into the Arts?

Research has shown that the diehard talent myth is not only useless in explaining anything but also harmful to people who might otherwise enjoy a more musically enriching life.

Music as a Shoulder to Cry On

Sad music seems to accommodate emotional healing by allowing people to safely get in touch with negative emotions that might otherwise be repressed.

Perfectionism: Benefit or Detriment to Performers?

Rather than being a key to optimal musical growth, research suggests that a perfectionist mindset may in fact derail an aspiring musician's development altogether.

More Music, More Empathy

Music is often called a universal language because it seems to speak to the emotions of disparate groups of people. In this light, some believe music has almost magical powers toward helping people find common ground with others seen as unlike themselves. So is music a uniquely powerful tool in building human empathy?

Your Passion May Not Be Enough

Many people choose to pursue a music career because they were so passionate about music as kids. However, recent research suggests that if you want to end up passionate about what you do professionally, instead of taking inventory of pre-existing passions, you should identify what you can become exceptionally good at.

Can Musicians Overthink Their Practice and Performance?

To get the most out of their practice sessions, musicians should strive to keep their minds highly engaged. Much conscious thought is required in the goal setting and strategizing that facilitate the learning of new skills. When practicing, autopilot is the enemy. But preparing for a public performance may be a different story.

When Passion is a Prison

Being passionate can mean different things to different musicians. While some freely pursue a musical life because of the joy it brings, others are driven by compulsion, and they experience much stress along the way. Does it matter whether one's passion is harmonious or obsessive, as long as it gets the job done?

Manufacturing Mozarts and Mannings

Exceptional young performers—both artists and athletes—are amazing to behold. Some key contributors to their talent can get lost in the nature versus nurture debate. Child prodigies who enjoy continued success have passion for what they do, and take advantage of opportunities afforded them.

Stage Fright: What to Do When the Problem Is You

There are a variety of reasons why musicians feel anxiety when taking the stage. Many times the source is what's going on inside the performers themselves—their own thinking. Changing performance-related thought processes can be a challenge, but well worth the effort.

How Practicing Less Can Foster Musical Growth

Not all practice is created equal. Instead of trying to log more hours, musicians can focus on being more efficient. By getting the most out of sensible amounts of practice, they can enjoy their musical lives more and optimally advance their skills.
Music as an Elixir for Your Brain

Music as an Elixir for Your Brain

Musicians and arts advocates may be well intentioned when they propagate research-based articles about the benefits of music activity to the human brain. Some media reports, however, do not hold up under closer scrutiny. There are some important reasons to think twice before jumping on the neuro-bandwagon.

Do Better-Looking Musicians Make Better Sounding Music?

Research has shown that a bias for physical attractiveness, though culturally defined, is present throughout the music world. Because people build expectations from an interaction of things seen and heard, looking good may offer musicians advantages that are quite profound.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Some musicians have great difficulty accurately hearing their own performance. Sometimes they are so preoccupied with physically performing that they are unable to monitor what their music actually sounds like. A look at these underlying cognitive skills can help.

When Practice, Practice, Practice Isn’t the Answer

Some musicians seem to accept performance anxiety as a fact of life. Believing that a drop-off in musical quality from rehearsal to concert is unavoidable, their only strategy for managing stage fright is to over-prepare through additional practice. There are, however, powerful sources of anxiety that are not addressed by merely practicing more.

When Desire Is Found Wanting

A simple love for music may be the greatest contributor to long-term success for musicians. But not all aspects of the musical life are desirable or fun.

Music Made for Peak Perception

Live music has a special power to evoke human emotions, some extremely intense and meaningful in the contexts of our lives. As performers seek the emotional rewards for themselves onstage, they also strive to provide similar peak experiences for their audiences. There are many factors in play that make live performance so engaging for musicians and music lovers alike.

Taking Stock Before Taking the Stage

When great musicians are on stage, the music seems to flow from them. It happens almost organically, naturally driven by passion, free of contrivance and strain. Because of this, some may come to believe that performance success depends on shutting off the intellect. However, research suggests that thinking may be the most powerful resource toward fulfilling performances.