February 2011 MTNA e-Journal

Practicing To Perform: Practice Tools To Battle The Performance Anxiety Plague
By Rebekah Jordan-Miller
Considerable literature exists concerning the development of psychological skills in athletes and the impact of those skills on the attainment of maximal levels of performance. However, while various programs exist for musicians and others to develop specific mental skills through meditation techniques, progressive muscle relaxation and visualization skills, no training programs exist that systematically develop the family of psychological performance skills necessary for musicians. Given the absence of both research and application of deliberate practice techniques in musical instrument practice, it seemed like a necessary task to design a mental skills training program for musicians to practice healthy psychological performance skills. In this article, Rebekah Jordan-Miller summarizes a mental skills training program that has adapted techniques commonly used by athletes and promotes a stronger, more focused and fulfilling performance experience for musicians. [Read More]


How Did They Play? A History Of Keyboard Touch
By Sandra Soderlund
People have been playing keyboard instruments for hundreds of years. The configuration of the keyboard itself was actually developed in the middle ages. Obviously the instruments have varied greatly in the way they produce sound, but the touch of the finger on the keyboard has always been the “interface” between player and instrument. Our modern assumptions about what constitutes fine playing were not always in effect, however, because concepts of touch have changed over the course of keyboard history. Much of the music we play today on the modern piano was written more than a hundred years ago, written for instruments that are quite different from today’s. Although we play a different instrument, are there concepts of touch that were valued in the past that can teach us something about how to play the music now? This article will trace the history of keyboard touch from the earliest sources through the work of the great pianist/composers and pedagogues of the 19th century. We do know something about how they played, and that knowledge can help us to perform the music of the great keyboard composers of the past in a lively way. [Read More]