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Practice Techniques & Behavioral Analytics

Behavior consultant and learning architect Adam Hockman is dedicated to helping musicians develop successful practice and performance strategies. He will lead regular sessions intended to help you make significant strides in your growth as a musician and human being.

John Gregorio

Adam Hockman

Student Experience Manager

The Heifetz experience is about more than just music and performance. From setting goals to time management to dealing with stress, we offer workshops all summer long to help our students become their best selves on and off the stage.

Session Descriptions

Listening to Yourself Play 
Listening to a recording of oneself (video or audio) can be a difficult experience. Many dread it and, over time, have developed behaviors and tactics to avoid and escape the activity. However, listening to a recording of one’s playing can be an incredibly valuable tool for measuring progress and identifying new directions for technique and artistry. In this session, we’ll look at thought avoidance and barrier behaviors that get us to approach listening with anxiety and anger—how and why we wait till the last possible minute to listen to ourselves or skip it altogether. We’ll also examine an approach for listening to our own playing with the same kind of compassion and openness that we bring to the listening of others.

The Next 6 Months: What Success Look Like?
COVID-19 has forced students, faculty, and schools to make significant changes in order to adapt. Come fall, schools will look very different than they did just a few months ago. Some students will only set foot on campus periodically; others, not at all. Other students may select to defer their semesters until they can make sense of how this will work moving forward. In whatever you choose, having the tools and strategies to tackle this new, less-structured and highly independent landscape is what will keep you on track both personally and musically. This session will address some of the key struggles students are facing in this new landscape. Participants will learn to employ values and strategies to help propel and support their daily actions; to restructure their environments to promote productivity and success; and to manage their sense of discomfort and uncertainty so they can focus and capitalize on all that is still good and worth pursuing in 2020.

Preparing the Environment and Managing Your Time
In this first session we’ll unpack the key observational skills needed for learning about yourself and your own practice habits. During the session, we’ll build a personalized data system to assess where you are, and where you want to go. Decisions about when, how, and what to practice will follow, along with interventions that you can implement and assess for effectiveness. We’ll also examine an approach for reviewing all the repertoire and techniques that need to be mastered, and learn to distribute practice time appropriately. Never let anxiety and stress drive away an important piece of repertoire that needs attention while you attend to the most immediate and in-danger piece of rep. 

Troubleshooting: Is this Working for Me? Measuring Practice Techniques that Make a Difference
Having now gathered information about your practice habits and identified areas for improvement, we’ll set goals and identify appropriate practice techniques. In this session you’ll learn new practice strategies (e.g., interleaving, total recall for intonation, problem spot checking in audition rep) and how to know when a strategy has run its course. This session will answer these questions: How long should I do slow practice on a passage? How much time should I spend on a passage in a given day? Is this etude positively affecting my concerto? How do I merge information from my lesson and studio class into this practice? Again, we’ll go back to observing, measuring, intervening, and problem solving practice problems. 

Troubleshooting: Talk Aloud & Effective Cueing to Make it Stick
Did the practice strategy work? Did you fix the problem spot and did it stick? In this session, we add vocal, auditory, and visual cueing to your repository of practice techniques to help establish greater control of problem areas. Intonation issues, memory slips, rhythmic instability (to name a few), bowing changes, and shifting are just a few of the places where learning to talk aloud to yourself and adding visual and auditory cues will get the performance to stick around for longer. We’ll even look at how the right kind of cueing can stabilize a passage in performance under different conditions.

Practicing to Perform
One can’t simply practice the technique and repertoire, they need to practice to perform; embed opportunities to simulate the conditions of a stressful performance. This session will focus on building a practice-to-perform system that involves: holding mock auditions/concerts, altering environmental variables (acoustics, temperature, distractions), using adversity and simulation training, and recovering from slip ups. It also looks at how frequently one should program these opportunities and when they should do them. 

Mental Practice and Handling Nerves
Each day, we can only do so much physical practice on our instruments. Both our bodies and motivational states eventually tap out for a time. Mental practice can be an effective tool to bridge that body-mind exhaustion gap and still make use of precious practice time. Learn to draw in all the cueing and practice techniques learned in the previous sessions to a mental practice where you can measure the effect it has on your physical performance. Establishing mental practice techniques can fill time during an  overuse injury recovery or act as a preventative strategy. We’ll close with a rapid introduction and energizing fluency building practice session on using Don Greene’s Centering Process to handle nerves, anxiety, and moments of low motivation.

Building and Breaking Habits for a Productive Life
Learn the core behavioral principles behind why we do what we do. Apply those principles to habits that you wish to increase and decrease. Learn to chart those habits and shape your behavior over time. These sessions are a great way to start the summer!

  • Session 1: Core Behavioral Concepts of Habit Building and Breaking
  • Session 2: Antecedents and Consequences
  • Session 3: Pinpointing and Measuring Behavior
  • Session 4: Charting Behavior
  • Session 5: Shaping Behavior

Developing a Strategic Practice System
Need to supercharge your practice? Here, we’ll build a practice system that is customized to meet your progress goals and challenges, now and in the future. Learn to assess progress and implement strategies, and measure whether these strategies are having their intended effect. 

  • Session 1: Values, Roadmapping, and Practice Logs
  • Session 2: Writing SMART goals and pinpoints; Developing accountability systems
  • Session 3: Practice strategies
  • Session 4: Structuring practice sessions
  • Session 5: Progress Monitoring and Demo Practice Session

Building Your Studio & Teaching Skills
Most musicians also work as teachers. When one becomes a teacher, they rely on their own history of attending years of music lessons, masterclasses, and other educational experiences. However, that doesn’t always translate into effective teaching practices. This series will focus on the key domains where the science of behavior and learning can help you establish a vibrant teaching practice that draws people to your studio and keeps them as students for many years. In six-part series, we’ll touch on the following areas: 

  • Session 1: Nuts and Bolts – Structuring an effective lesson, using digital tools, writing studio policies, communicating with parents, and managing the books.
  • Session 2: Starting with new students -Building a practice log, using technology to capture lesson notes, assigning practice, and having proper accountabilities and follow up.
  • Session 3: Behavior management tactics – Creating a positive environment with the right behavioral supports to get students to participate, decreasing problems that arise during lessons, building motivation to practice during the week.
  • Session 4: Teaching Strategies – Teaching new skills to mastery, working with children who don’t get it on the first go around and need additional practice
  • Session 5: Working with Parents and Families – Working with parents and getting them to support their child’s music education