Aside from the musical and technical pursuit of excellence, one of my duties is to encourage myself and others around me – students and colleagues alike – to engage in healthy habits for complementing music playing skills and promoting mental and physical longevity. Musicians may not be athletes, but our skills are still a form of physical activity; in some cases, requiring immense physical and mental endurance. This is especially true when we have to perform at a high level under pressure.

Continue reading “New Musician’s Wellness and Fitness Resources”

latte art with violin thumbnail

This New Year, I decided to learn how to make latte art – simply out of enthusiasm. I bought my first espresso machine: the Breville Bambino. Small enough to fit on the limited kitchen counter space, with all the basic features one needs to make a good latte. Limited to non-dairy options, my first mission was to learn the basics: how to pull a satisfactory espresso shot with decent level of crema and how to time and angle the milk pitcher to achieve a specific texture of foam while steaming oat milk. Thanks to the wonderful world of YouTube for many free tutorials on this.


I have never worked at a cafe in my life but am quite an avid customer. Since I’m not serving dozens of people a day at home, this limits me to just a handful of practice sessions per week. As you can imagine, unlike with violin, these are very short practice sessions. There are no do-overs. There is no opportunity of consecutive trial and error when learning how to pour basic latte art with such a limitation – at least not in a row.

Continue reading “What Latte Art Taught Me About Performance Practice”

To execute a specific skill, an athlete’s movement goes through 3 phases: the preparation, the action (this can be a tennis serve or golf swing, for example), and the follow-through. String playing is no different when it comes to consistency in the beginnings and ends of our notes. The quality of these prep and follow-through movements will determine the quality of the note(s). Continue reading “Unilateral & Bilateral Motion for Healthy Prep and Follow-through Movements in String Playing”

A happy, healthy, and musical New Year to you!


I’m one of those people who traditionally sets resolutions at the end of each December. The list usually comprises of roughly 6 things based on different areas of my life and interests. Not everything gets accomplished within the next 12 months, but I’ve been pretty happy with the typical 50-70% success rate. Unfortunately, New Year’s resolutions don’t work for everyone. While some things in life are clearly outside of our control, we can navigate our long-term goal challenges by looking at the four following scenarios. I take the most common saboteurs of resolution achievement and for each, include an action step or alternative perspective that we can consider.

Continue reading “Overcoming Common Roadblocks to New Year’s Resolutions”

violin clock

As musicians, we climb up to some important events along the journey here and there. One might call these milestones, highlights, or significant check-ins. These moments can take the form of a concert, an exam, a recording project, an audition, or even just a lesson. Sometimes it feels like a lot is at stake. For example, final audition results can vary even with the best preparation. Not to mention that auditions can get very expensive! However, if we zoom out, one thing becomes certain. These big events take up a very tiny percentage of our overall growth as musicians. Continue reading “The 24-48 Hour Rule”



This is a follow-up to my YouTube video The Art of Effortless String Crossing.

Here is a compilation of important etudes for string crossings not mentioned in the video. There are thousands of variations and options out there. You can use this guide to help select studies that would be most helpful based on the repertoire you’re currently working on. Please note that this set is mainly recommended for intermediate and advanced players. All these etude books are in the public domain and available for free on However, if you do wish to own a hard copy, I will provide affiliate links wherever possible. Most of these have a viola version available as well.

Continue reading “Essential Etudes & Exercises for Mastering String Crossings”


During the last third of July, I performed in the MostArts Festival Orchestra, along with some chamber music in the small village of Alfred, NY. We had many musicians from regional orchestras around the state, but some came from overseas, including Hawaii and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Considering the limited rehearsal time to prepare for 5+ performances in the course of a week, I was very pleased with the teamwork, comradery, overall quality, and respect for one another. It was great to see old colleagues and meet many new ones.

For me, the most challenging part of the festival was its annual Youth Pianist Competition. Part of the final round of the competition involves the candidates to perform a Mozart piano concerto with the festival orchestra. We played two all-Mozart programs on consecutive nights, along with dress rehearsals with the soloists just a few hours before each concert. Out of all the repertoire we played, Mozart proved to be physically the most challenging, even though it’s not as “technically demanding” by comparison. In addition to the concerti, we also played a couple of Mozart’s famous overtures and the famous serenade Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

The Challenge of Mozart in Orchestra

Anyone who has played any Mozart in a chamber orchestra knows the challenge of creating an elegant ensemble blend, expression, balanced dynamics within the string section, and full commitment to staying engaged from beginning to the very end. Everything is exposed. Here are 17 tips on playing Mozart well in a string section. Continue reading “17 Tips for Playing Mozart in Orchestra”

We all know that gripping the neck or squeezing with the thumb is a big no-no because it causes unnecessary tension and makes playing even more difficult than it already is. This is a concept that’s simple…but NOT easy! Pretty much all violinists and violists struggle with some form of this at some point, and sometimes without even realizing it especially if it’s an ingrained habit. And for so many of us who mean well and do our best, this problem most often occurs when the music is emotionally intense and/or physically demanding.


Here are 5 ways to train your left hand to feel lighter. Spending even 3 minutes on these a day can help to improve your stamina, dexterity, shifting, and vibrato.

Continue reading “Tips to Prevent Gripping the Neck & Relax Left Hand”

The past 5 days have been especially fruitful for me. I participated in a long, in-depth online workshop about the pedagogy of Paul Rolland. His principles and Action Studies focus on creating healthy movements with good balance, which allow one to develop stellar technique (including the basics of advanced skills within the first 2 years of playing the instrument), find more potential for musical expression, and play with minimal to no excess tension in the body. Continue reading “A Holistic Approach to String Playing with Paul Rolland’s Principles”