The Bracket Violin


“Everyday I get to live and experience one of my dreams: I get to play through Vieuxtemps, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saens, Elgar, Mendelssohn, Bach, and Mozart… almost anything that I want. And while I do this, I get better at classical instruments – because I engage in modern complementary studies that are both challenging and fun. Try telling me that is not worth pursuing or not worth sharing!”

– Jeffrey Hsu, Inventor

The bracket violin effectively sets a modern foundation for musical study and complements pedagogy and performance:

  • Expedites Rehearsal Time and Improves Sonic Performance.
  • No Callus Irritation = More Potential Practice Time if Desired.
  • Dramatically Improves Dexterity (Likely for all Musical Instruments).
  • Establishes Intonation via Auditory Memory (Likely for all Musical Instruments).
  • Independent or Guided Experimentation as Framed through Pedagogy to Form Natural Grips and Grasp Balance Requirements Over Time.
  • Encourages Full Use of Bow, Understanding of Bow Vectors, and Realizing Bow Propulsion through Virtual Osmosis.
  • Sustaining Flowing State of Vibrato via Virtual Osmosis.
  • Intuitive (Virtual Osmosis) and Coherent (Mental Reading) Decoding of Music Literature (and Optionally in–Adults–or in Mandatory–Children–Combination with Strings).
  • Designed to Activate Attention and the “Magic Synthesis” in the Brain through Experiential or Mental “Flow.”
  • Significantly Enhances Reading Comprehension (especially through Mental Reading) or Helps to Form Visual Map of Finger Placements and Corresponding Notes in Brain which can then be Visualized while Reading Music or Playing from Memory on Bowed Stringed Instrument.
  • Contemporary Processes to Accelerate Memorizing of Music.
  • Effective and Safe Unilateral and Bilateral Training only Possible on Stringless and Not Possible on Strings.
  • Stringless does Not Produce Poor Habits because Stringless Does Not Strengthen or Reinforce Work with Resistance Training.
  • Templates are ‘Stringless’ and Do Not Result in Poor Technique or Visual Dependency; Instead, Set of Decals Serve as Collective and Imaginative Manual of Spatial Aspects of Fingerboard in Brain which Can be Accessed Later via Memory Retrieval for Strings (as Discussed Above).
  • Templates (or Future Light Patterns) are Graded for Different Stages of Learning.
  • Variety of Bowing Platform Options including Singular Track Option to Reduce Inhibition for Experiential Flow, Interchangeable with Plural Tracks for More Accurate Mental Reading, such as Traversing Full Bowing Range According to Left-Hand Position, Simulating Arc of Bridge to Properly Roll Bow for String Crossing, and Shifting into Correct Positions and Digit-Related Locations.
  • Singular Track and Open Fingerboard Design Lowers Inhibition but Conditions Perpendicular Movement of Bow (which Later Applies to Proper Bowing Range) and Allows Body to Naturally Develop Rigid Finger Placements in Left-Hand Over Time.
  • Other Bow Guides on Market are Anecdotes–because they Do Work for You–and Do Not Effectively Condition Proper or Natural Movement; they also Stifle Experimentation.
  • Stringless Precipitates Natural Rewards in Brain (i.e. Achievement) and therefore Creates New Habit Loops for Effective Learning Strategy.
  • Relieves Students and Professionals of Aggravation Associated with Difficult or Tedious Learning Tasks.
  • Stringless is Fun, Challenging, and Artistically Creative while Complementing Art of Violin.
  • Stringless is Accessible via Household Electronics and Existing/ Affordable Technologies and Bracket Violin (or future Laser Iterations) Should Be Affordable to Most Households.
  • No Tuner or Metronome is Needed because Digitally Enhanced Music Recordings Create Accurate Auditory Memories in Brain (i.e., when Attentional Networks are Activated via Singularity*), and Said Recordings Provide Rhythmic Backdrop for Fingering and Bowing Articulations.
  • While Repetition is Important for Student Programming, Creative Conditioning Solves Major Problems–Reason Why Many Do Not get Involved or Discontinue their Participation in Arts–and that is, Creativity and Time. Virtual Osmosis Allows Stringless Participant to Temporarily Bypass Technical Error–while Improving Motor Skills over Time–in order to Experience Art of Violin and Gain Positive Musical Experience.  Perhaps in Future, Professional Orchestras will Open Up their Halls to Engage Silent Orchestras – Licensing Music Lovers to Share Art of Performance with Expanded Audiences.  More Activity may Augment Ticket Sales and Orchestra Attendance and Widen Scope of Music Appreciation, especially for Transient Non-Artists (like Family and Friends).
  • Rote Exercise, furthermore, Can Lead to Injury and are One Reason Why Students Have Difficult Time Adjusting to New Musical Parameters.
  • Traditional Exercises/Pedagogy can be Applied to Stringless.
  • Virtual Play can Serve as Enhanced Reward, i.e., Pleasure/Satisfaction of Making, or in this Case, Experiencing Music.
  • Less Self-Reflective Judgement and Less Observable Judgement in Stringless Method that is Highly Important for String Performance.
  • More Opportunity to Learn via Osmosis, Either Virtually Online or In-Person.
  • Stringless May Help Disadvantaged or Underprivileged Students to “Catch-Up” in Cases where They Did Not Have Opportunity to Study Early On.
  • Allows Tense Musician to Practice on More Gentle Platform Until Musician Naturally Relaxes Over Time as More Bits of Information are Realized.
  • Innovation Can Help User with Selecting Acoustic Instrument of Choice.
  • Stringless is Tested, Well-Researched, Works, and Makes Sense!

One more thing… Stringless is expected to evolve all the benefits of human development that go along with learning to play a musical instrument, like bringing out intelligence, improving attendance in school, and potential plastic changes in adults.

Possible adverse reactions:

  • Injury due to accelerated learning in adults.
  • Depression due to perceived failures in ameliorated learning.
  • Reliance on Virtual Rewards.

Author: Stringless Artist

By choice, I started studying music when I was in the 5th grade. Not by choice, I was assigned to play sax. Through high school, I exercised self-agency and learned to play clarinet, flute, and cello in pursuit of orchestra. After playing flute for only a year-and-a-half, I was accepted into the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati where I studied under one of the world's leading professors of flute performance. After CCM, I pursued architecture at the University of Nevada Las Vegas where I won two international design competitions: Leading Edge and Walt Disney Imagineering. Before getting my bachelor's in music, I also won the UNLV concerto competition on flute. Post graduation, I went on to work for a global architecture firm (Archurban) in mainland China, and back in the states, I wrote my first electronic music album (P A X M A X). Missing music performance, I decided to revisit cello. I received further training at the Nevada School of the Arts and the Multnomah Arts Center, and I played cello in the Beaverton Symphony Orchestra for two seasons. During that time, I invented a stringless platform for learning the violin (the bracket violin). This event--without pause--was the most significant pivot in my life! While in pursuit of patents, I developed conceptual, technological designs for stringless electronic training aids and musical instruments (beyond structural models), or more specifically, stringless controllers/synthesizers for advancing pedagogy, furthering artistic capabilities, and real-time electronic music making. Looking to make a professional fingerprint with my inventions, I took courses in "Leading Innovation in Arts and Culture" and "Teaching the Violin and Viola" respectively at Vanderbilt and Northwestern Universities (via Coursera). I also have had multiple "Stringless Technology" exhibits at the NoCo Mini Maker Faire and Violin Society of America, taught violin at the Boys and Girls Club, and developed therapy applications through volunteer hospice and palliative care. I can give paid private music instruction on flute, violin, and cello, or offer continuing education enhancement classes to professional musicians and teachers. I have performed/appeared on the stringless violin at Make Music Day Denver, Apogaea, Sloan's Lake Rehab, Denver Gay Pride, and Suncrest Hospice. I was a finalist for TEDx MileHigh, was recently interviewed for my ProBoPat Success Story (UPDATE: I received my first patent for "Stringless Bowed Musical Instrument" on Sept. 19, 2017), and am currently working on a targeted prototyping/beta testing/business plan (with SCORE Colorado and Mi Casa Resource Center). I have also swiftly returned to flute--after a lengthy retirement--and am already engaged in multiple performance opportunities!

28 thoughts on “The Bracket Violin”

  1. This analysis is thorough, comprehensive, and based on three years of extensive research into the benefits and rewards of the stringless approach. The findings are trustworthy through extensive virtual play, mental practice, and practical applications. These principles are brilliantly and perceptively well thought out. They are suitable for application by the experienced violinist and beginner alike.

      1. For anybody out there, if you have a student that suffers with ‘pain in their fingertips,’ send them to me! I myself had this overwhelming problem when I resumed my cello studies as an adult long after high school (with 11 years of inactivity between). None of my doctors–not even my dermatologist–was able to solve this elusive fingertip quandary. I understand very well that it can greatly affect your ability to perform, and consequently, negatively affect your mood. Meanwhile, other musicians around you act like it’s an excuse. It’s unfair to assume that you are a “bad player;” it’s a horrible and hopeless feeling! The truth is, I quit playing my cello as an adult because of the problem with my fingertips, but I have started to play again (as an adult) thanks to “the stringless method.” And honestly, I play better now… even with another 3-year hiatus as I have worked through the stringless method on the stringless violin. Go ahead and test me.

        The stringless method, for obvious reasons, may help to address the fingertip hiccup by focusing on the mechanical aspects of string playing without strings. And at the end of the day, a student may be able to play (at least I personally can) on high-action stringed instruments with improved capability and with no apparent pain – pain that would have otherwise interfered with optimal performance. Additionally, there is less residual pain (less recovery time) compared to past experiences. In other words, it allows you to practice healthily on a stringless technological instrument and perform on the strings for concerts, recitals, and the like or improves your technique so much that you will likely be able to play the stringed instrument correctly–that is, with less pressure, at the right angle, and with less muscular tensions (as you become more familiar with the complementary stringless instrument and setup)–all the time!

        Similarly, the stringless method may be more useful for boys in their youth than girls because boys tend to tense up rather than relax, which is especially true during the natural stages of physical human development, i.e., puberty.

  2. Neuroscience Sheds New Light on Creativity: What neuroscience reveals about how to come up with new ideas.

    “If you imagine something that you have never actually seen, like a Pluto sunset, the possibilities for creative thinking become much greater because the brain can no longer rely on connections shaped by past experience. In order to think creatively, you must develop new neural pathways and break out of the cycle of experience-dependent categorization. Only when the brain is confronted with stimuli that it has not encountered before does it start to reorganize perception.”

    “By deploying your attention differently, the frontal cortex, which contains rules for decision making, can reconfigure neural networks so that you can see things that you didn’t see before. You need a novel stimulus — either a new piece of information or an unfamiliar environment — to jolt attentional systems awake. The more radical the change, the greater the likelihood of fresh insights.”

    “Novel experiences are so effective at unleashing the imagination because they force the perceptual system out of categorization, the tendency of the brain to take shortcuts.”

    Adapted from the book Iconoclast, by Gregory Berns, by permission of Harvard Business Press. Copyright 2008 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. All Rights Reserved.

  3. Hola! I’ve been following your site for some time
    now and finally got the bravery to just give you a shout
    out from Austin Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up to date the great work!

    1. Hola, are you in the field of music? I’m getting ready for my next big exhibit at the NoCo Mini Maker Faire on Oct. 8 + 9 – if you wanna see the latest in stringless innovations. Thanks for your interest!

  4. Umm, virtual play is also positively effective because it extracts the audience and/or teacher. Both observers are innately judgmental, even if they have good intentions. By taking away your audience–including the aware or conscious self–you may take away possible negative sympathetic (internal) responses – which ‘is’ useful for practice in helping one to enthusiastically make it through a routine or piece of music. And later, the student can enjoy positive sympathetic mechanisms, induced by his/her audience, during performance. Removing audiences, furthermore, is especially beneficial to classical improve when working towards arts creation or technical refinement and technical expansion of string playing capabilities.

  5. I realized tonight–again, going against the grain of tradition–that sensing pressure along the fingerboard also captures the surface area of the fingers… so, that is useful for providing technical feedback to the student – in virtual effort to correctly condition the fingers to land on their (fingertip) pads. This affects the grips of both the left-hand and neck (balancing the violin on the shoulder)… thereby affecting the angle at which the bow approaches the strings, too. Consider that this can all be achieved mentally via experiential processes. Again, the stringless advantage offers less psychological and physical aggravation – the physical part being especially advantageous because a stringless platform requires less stress/work on the body – meaning stringless can reduce the chances of injury. (Remember to apply even and light pressure most of the time and relax all three grips (neck and hands).)

  6. Hi again,

    Today I am happy to announce that I just started working on a stringless platform for cello. I guess I needed to make sure that my tech and methods truly worked*–as any good scientists and entrepreneur would do–before investing in more expensive products. Lemme start off first by saying what a richly emotional and powerful experience it is fingering and bowing (stringlessly) along to Jaqueline du Pre’s recording of the Elgar Cello Concerto… (I had done it before on the stringless violin and cried, but it’s nice to play through the music on the intended platform). In doing so, I can reaffirm the points listed about the bracket violin. Though there are no strings and no acoustic feedback to give an artist a learning proxy, it helps move attention from exactly those points to other equally important contributors of string playing. For example, it helps to feel out the swing of vibrato… how well controlled vibrato is across all five fingers (unlike the violin, the cello makes use of the thumb), and especially in, the higher positions…. it gives you tactile feedback as to how you are doing in distributing pressure across all five fingers… the tendency is to mostly push on the string with the index finger, carrying with it the weight of the hand. So, even though in virtual play I am not entering a coherent motor program (because I have not gone through mental practice yet on my new stringless training aid for cello), I am improving dexterity, strengthening my fingers, feeling out the motion of vibrato in all hand positions, distributing pressure evenly across all five fingers, feeling out the grips in both hands, predicting body movements through transitional breaks (moving into different positions), syncing to good rhythm, and forming a better proximal memory of the music I am working on/listening to/experiencing which serves me well when I crossover to strings – IMPROVED OVERALL COMPREHENSION. I look forward to applying my fingerboard template and working more logically on fingerings and bowings. I’ll see you on stage soon… and more importantly, hopefully, you’ll begin to believe in yourself! I am not a prodigy, but if I become one… then so can you. God bless!

    Oh please don’t forget how economical my bracket designs are! It’s at a price point most ppl can afford… if we invest in touchscreen products and high quality lasers/speakers… then we worsen the inequity problem in the arts. I am willing to further all iterations but please understand that if a touchscreen cello were to be put out on the market tomorrow, I would not be able to afford one… me as the inventor! So, please consider how important dreams are before putting price tags on and deciding which product is more “viable” than the other. I will not change my position on this… even if politically pressured. (Please remind me I said this if I do something different in the future.) Let’s release both the training aid concept and the sound-generating concept at the same time, at least. Unless you can make me laser violins and cellos at an excellent starting price… then that’s ok too.

    * I am able to play vibrato (more specifically, elbow/arm vibrato which I would vehemently argue requires greater mastery than wrist vibrato) now on the violin with a certain level of control that leads me to believe, and based on my past experience playing other instruments leads me to believe, that I will eventually have total control over this ultimate measure of violin playing, i.e., the balance and technique of violin vibrato. (Please see my Facebook page for video evidence @ Additionally, the open fingerboard has without a doubt improved my dexterity in the left hand… (and of course we knew that the bowing platform effectively conditions perpendicular movement and sense of grip in the right). And of even greater importance, I’d say, is that creative fingerings have become increasingly logical over time while licensing further control over finger patterns, that is, the spacing between digits. My pinky finger, for example, is becoming stronger and more curved when stopping strings, and I can “reach” whole steps in relation to the third finger as well as control whether my pinky lands a half step or whole step ahead of the third – which was really hard to do when I started 4 years ago as an adult, and is tough regardless of age. This means that my/our modern theories about learning have a decent shot at becoming accepted or adopted, especially if I can influence more learners or pros to follow my lead… and allows me to feel like spending a little money on a stringless cello training aid is worthwhile (since I have very limited money to work with). Who knows, maybe I will focus more on becoming a solo cellist now instead of putting all my energy into the violin =)

  7. My violinist friend suggested that I comment on how virtual play, in particular the VP of high-ceiling repertory such as the Tchaikovsky violin concerto (in my case, in other words, high-ceiling doesn’t have to be that high since I studied flute at the conservatory level), has affected me beyond training. So, attentively listening to standard violin & cello rep has transferred over to my listening experience and subsequent dance interpretations of modern music… When I dance to music, whether at home in private or at the club in public, I feel as though I can better comprehend rhythm and flow. Consequently, I feel as though my dancing and creative gestures have improved, and I feel more comfortable expressing myself through dance than I have in past years. We, my violinist friend and I, strongly feel that these emotional and physical effects should have valuable applications in music therapy.

  8. I am realizing that creativity allows a student/player of music (not neccessarily of the violin family) to exceed his or her capabilities/current potential and develop certain skills like: dexterity, reading comprehension, rhythm, intonation memory, and more. After creative development, the player should return to her or his instrument of choice with greater ability and confidence. I hope I get a flute to prove this point!

    Creative Utility = Greater Ability

  9. Also, we tend to get too caught up on the technicalities–the acoustic feedback–which can disrupt our flow and ability to advance. I hope this knowledge becomes widespread bc servicing dreams is just as important as servicing basic needs and desires.

  10. You know, I recently decided to switch back to my primary instrument: flute. In a letter I wrote to Friends of Flutes Foundation I said, “Now, this all pertains to the flute because my innovative technology and methods–as evidenced by my independent “stringless study”–have transformed my overall enthusiasm for music as well as my skills. For example, my dexterity, reading comprehension, “intonation memory,” flow and movement, listening, rhythm, and ability to improvise have all dramatically improved over the last five years. As a result, I feel confident that my recent musical development will transfer over to flute playing. This gives me newfound hope for realizing my initial dreams to play flute professionally in a symphony orchestra.”

    These are true statements. Even though I do not have a flute (let alone a high-quality flute) in my possession, I have already started to practice via virtual osmosis. (By the way, I did go to the music store to try out Yamaha flutes, and after almost 10 years without playing, I thought it went fairly well. E.g., I could play low B and high D clearly.) Anyhow, going back to virtual osmosis, I hold my recorder in a transverse position and simulate (correct) fingerings and blowing like I do/did on violin, with less creativity since I know the key codes well. Ummm, anyhow, the point is I have played through Mozart flute concertos, flute orchestral excerpts, Paganini Violin Concerto, Saint-Saens Intro. and Rondo Capriccioso and “Birds” from the Carnival of the Animals, and so on (on “stringless flute”) and already sense that my music comprehension is much better now than when I was a student in school. It’s as if all the tangled connections in my brain have made new pathways for me to understand most of the info on the page, like my dyslexia has virtually dissolved. Again, try telling me that is not worth sharing, investing in, and proliferating!

    Here are some notes from my virtual session tonight while playing through Brahms Violin Concerto on stringless flute:

    “Do not hear what’s wrong, only listen to what’s right.”

    [2nd Movement, Intro] “Think of the support behind the wind pressure of the oboist [as oboists in my experience are usually the most consistent in the woodwinds].”

    “All sound should come from the core [like a singer] – not the fingers.”

    I really look forward to proving my concept – I’m in the process of trading in my cello (which is unfortunate) for a high-quality flute. Soon!

  11. So, I’m in the midst of a “flute trial” with the incredible Flute Center of New York – trying out different brands of flutes before I purchase “the one.” I’m very pleased to say that I was pretty much able to “pick-up-and-play” the flute after about 9+ years of retirement. I of course credit this ability to my five year stringless study on the bracket violin. In addition to being able to pick-up-and-play, I have progressed in at least three noticeable areas: music comprehension, improvisation, and dexterity. For example, I can read difficult passages with more correct notes and rhythms in comparison to when I was a flute major at CCM and UNLV, I can improvise at length on double-tonguing exercises, trills, scale (finger) patterns, and so on, and my scales and arpeggios as well as my solo music work is much more controlled (again, after my stringless study and in comparison to my years as a student of music). My return to flute is happening at a much quicker rate than I had even anticipated. I am not at all afraid to showcase my progress in public after I have selected a flute for purchase (or in my case for trade (cello)). I will be performing live through my current volunteer work and am looking for open chairs in band and orchestra, until I am ready to audition for paid posts in orchestra. Also, I think stringless study on inexpensive bracket violin models might be a wonderful course for continuing education – for professional musicians in band and orchestra. I’m ready when you are.

  12. Wanted to follow up on the above post (transferability of abstract-musical skill from the stringless practice violin to other instrument(s) – not of the violin family) with respect to ‘self-awareness’ and ‘memory.’ While I feel I am qualified to offer my thoughts on awareness and not academically qualified to speak on the topic of memory, I will touch on both. It seems that in addition to acquiring new skills in specific areas like dexterity, music comprehension, rhythm, flow, and intonation memory, for example, my awareness to fix mistakes–or as I like to say, “iron out mistakes/inconsistencies”–has also improved. In a book I am reading (Notes from the Green Room: Coping with Stress and Anxiety in Musical Performance by P. Salmon & R. Meyer – Lexington Books:1992) the authors talk about “troublesome learning” where students or professional musicians ignore or lack the “self-awareness” to problem-solve weak areas in their performance – which can then become a contributing factor to performance anxiety on-stage. True, for a vastly complex set of reasons, I remember experiencing this same pitfall in the practice room and consequently on stage. As a result, I believe that the deep listening exercises I engaged in with synced and creative movements in either hand on the stringless violin helped me to develop those mechanisms in the brain that control and develop awareness (and/or focus) and accordingly the ability to act on weak areas in need of improvement (“deliberate practice” (Eddie O’Connor) is discussed in further detail below). This is proving to be extremely beneficial to my current study on the flute and my professional outlook in music (not as an entrepreneur of Stringless Enterprises, but as a prospective paid flutist in some capacity).

    With respect to memory, I bring this topic up because I have been able to miraculously “pick-up-and-play” the flute again after more than 10 years of retirement. I stopped playing the flute 2x in my life: once after leaving CCM (2001), and again after graduating from UNLV (2006). After each example of resting or quitting (however you perceive it), I was not able to successfully pick-up-and-play. For example, after CCM, I was NOT able to cover the tone holes or develop a consistent and clear tone until years later at UNLV – after I switched my major from architecture back to music. And that last (second) time I stopped playing (after graduation), it was so disastrous that I stopped believing I had the basic skills to ever become a professional musician of my desired stature (orchestra musician). Now, in 2018, I am able to advance through my ongoing flute trial where I have been able to immediately cover the tone holes (suggestive of advanced dexterity) and play with quickly improving tone (which I think relates to memory). I’m saying that while decoding music on the flute may be like relearning to ride a back, picking up a musical instrument after a prolonged rest or retirement is not so easy in general due to a number of other factors like the shape and fitness of the player and his/her’s elasticity of musical brain function and memory… But, it has been as easy as relearning to bike–only after my stringless study–and my progress is unusually swift! This ultimately suggests, that my memory bank, through creative play and conditioning, was also stimulated during my independent stringless study and that it reinforced older information-based memory and physical memories alike (like embouchure placement and advanced fingerings). I could elaborate more on this topic–like discussing the memory of specific persons that have influenced my style of playing–but again, I am not a neuroscientist or the like.

    On an important side note, as a mature adult musician–where natural maturity may or may not have derived or stemmed from stringless study–I am improving at an accelerated rate on the flute due in part to the fact that I am paying attention to and am subsequently ‘working’ on areas that I lacked proficiency in during my youth. In other words, I am spending time on specific weaker areas of my performance (e.g., double-tonguing, note cracking, and phrasing) that I admittingly avoided/neglected when I was younger because I feared those weaknesses would perceptually undermine my musical confidence (due to frustration/lack of rewards) and cause me to quit, because I lacked the knowledge to correct them, or because I simply wasn’t aware of them yet due to a lack of maturity. Moreover, I recall that I started much later on the flute than my peers and often felt rushed while a student – another contributing factor. Interestingly, my progress is much quicker and more observable than when I was younger, however. So perhaps there is credit where credit is due for stringless technology and methods in that transferable skills, enhanced awareness, enhanced memory, and enhanced musical maturity are both directly and indirectly related to my 5-year independent stringless study*!

    Again, I think the inexpensive bracket violin concept and accompanying materials/methods would be an excellent option specifically for professional musicians and teachers as a continuing education class or as an advanced class for students in higher education music schools.

    I’m ready when you are.

    * Setting aside the fact that I am now working from home at a comfortable pace without school/program pressures.

  13. In addition to the above readings, I am watching a lecture series on “The Psychology of Performance: How to Be Your Best in Life” by Eddie O’Conner (The Teaching Company: 2017). I’m sorry Eddie, but I disagree that “deliberate practice” is the primary key to success. I have come to understand, have proved, and am proving that creative practice or “experimentation” (as cited by Salmon and Meyer) is equally as important – or is at least equally as important for creative-minded people, i.e., peeps that are not entirely motivated/excited by logic.

    Creative practice, in addition to deliberate practice, has the power to enhance motivation while prepping performance or conditioning the mind (gray matter, myelin, etc.) and body (musculature and fine motor movements). Moreover, there’s not much a student can do to improve in music without dexterity, for example, no matter how much they invest in practice time and deliberation – same with intonation. Creativity can better solve this sort of lack of “gifts” or “talents,” aside from starting in music early. Is sports and music, furthermore, only for those who are fortunate enough to have parents who started them early and subsequently properly invested in their child’s set-up? I don’t think so! Creativity can allow others to start later and still be successful… allow kids to have a normal childhood and explore multiple facets of life without the burnout/pressure of music and/or sports, and allow players of all ages and levels to take well-needed and well-deserved breaks. It doesn’t have to be a painful process or the ultimate sacrifice, not for the coming generations anyhow! For us, on the other hand, it has been I know…

    I hope that I have earned a platform to teach these concepts. Recognition would be nice too, despite my lack of credentials for which there are none since creative play combined with metal practice/imagery is novel (I do have a patent)! If I am not going to be given a platform, and if I’m not going to receive academic/professional recognition or the like, then please know I am only moderately (at best) motivated to continue trying at this point.

  14. “Imagery can be a powerful tool for enhancing skills, particularly when the performer cultivates sensitivities in auditory and tactile as well as visual modalities.” (Salmon & Meyer)

  15. I just watched Dr. O’Connor’s lecture #9 on Imagery (as cited above). Apparently, there are numerous studies that relate to my creative work which clearly validate my authentic claims – teachings that I have been trying to share and inspire the public with. For example:

    “The more intrinsic motivation, the better.”

    “90% of athletes use mental imagery” because “they believe it enhances their performance.”

    “Brain changes occur when imagining [physical practice].”

    “A combination of physical practice and imagery yields the best results.”

    “Imagery – real skills – not a fantasy.”

    “Imagery improves musical performance” and “can reduce the risk of pain and injury without sacrificing performance.”

    “Imagery is a skill that can be developed.”

    “20 minutes is optimal.”

    Dr. O’Conner used examples of pianists and a drummer who use similar mental techniques as described above and throughout. He also went on to say that excellence, as a result of imagery, requires work and commitment. In other words, you cannot dismiss the overwhelming evidence that imagery works without putting in the work yourself to yield positive results. Dr. O’Connor also mentions that imagery exercises should be programmed according to the participants’ current level of skill in real-time, i.e., graded imagery. I mostly agree; however, I have run through violin concertos with early youth (ages 5+) at the Boys & Girls Club and at my exhibits over the years with some success. The goal was to familiarize beginners and early youth with the standard rep (difficult music) and to improve their dexterity in preparation for later performances. This is not something that I would omit from programming as long as instruction is guided, motivating, and nurturing (i.e., rewarding) through the process.

    Unfortunately, other programmers are inpatient and brag about their own quick results. And time and again, string teachers, string players, and other constituents of the violin community have tried to suppress my teachings or instruct their students of the violin to dismiss my work. What a shame!

  16. Just watched O’Connor’s 13th lecture on flow and mental toughness. Though my focus is somewhat absent (due to recent sleep disturbances), I am pleased to report that I did not find any holes in the field’s current understanding of flow and its usefulness toward achieving excellence. I will proudly reiterate that the bracket violin is the 1st invention if its kind–that I am aware of–to allow elite players in music to consistently access flow while conditioning/refining technique along with evolving their comprehension of music.

    Also, I have found that flow is especially helpful in reducing performance anxiety. To illustrate, I had to perform on flute and piccolo for the first time (after 10+ years of retirement) for a flute expert – as part of the flute trial process. On the way there, my heart starting racing and feelings of panic–FLIGHT–started to creep in. In a desperate effort to redirect my attention, I engaged in virtual play while listening to music in the car (luckily my good friend Paul Langley was driving). While I did not have my bracket violin with me, I was able to draw on all my years of experiential flow on the bracket violin by practicing violin finger patterns on my right forearm – like a cellist. As I mentally and creatively flowed–while listening to Classical Colorado Public Radio–I was able to focus on those violin fingerings/patterns instead of the what-ifs and fears of not playing flute well in a semi-public/judgmental setting. Rewards came as well because my understanding of violin fingerings is always improving (even though I have not been practicing the violin lately due to my shoulder injury – which, by the way, signals the importance of rest between either deliberate or creative practice sessions and the concept that more practice does not necessarily lead to superior results*). I thought to myself, “this is really helpful, I bet I can use this mental exercise before an audition to calm my nerves down and ultimately play my best.”

    With respect to this lecture and my personal musical journey, I believe I have the capacity to excel in “mental toughness;” on the other hand, I recognize that I need to change unhealthy behaviors and habits to improve my “consistency” like prioritizing, regular sleep, good oral hygiene, diet, daily planning, regular exercise, healthy socializing, etc.. I really do not want to perceive personal achievement and excellence in music as an ongoing competition, however. Will our music culture ever change? I don’t know and will concede that this is an element outside of my control, but one that I can hope for change.

    One last thing, the author ended again with the importance of deliberate practice but failed to connect creativity as a viable route to excellence. Indeed, as noted by O’Connor, skills gained via deliberate practice are essential to an artist’s, athlete’s, or professional’s ability to enter flow, but with the invention of the bracket violin or like technology and/or methods, creative practice will undoubtedly complement and advance our current paradigm.

    * I think that myelin sheaths, neural connections, gray matter, musculature, etc. naturally grow/restructure/develop during wakeful recovery times and during restorative states of sleep. I have not, however, researched this claim as it pertains to neuroscience as it is common knowledge that rest is essential to bodybuilding. Intuitively, I would expect that temporal brain growth during recovery/periods of rest is something that cannot be rushed and will differ from person-to-person.

  17. Just finished Notes from the Green Room and the Psych. of Performance (cited above). Yes, I would suggest reading/watching them. I’ll leave you with these quotes from Notes from the GR:

    “Part of becoming comfortable as a performer involves knowing as much as possible about how you can best learn what will later be performed.” (pg. 203)

    “Develop a capacity for mental imagery, a technique that is very useful at virtually every state of practice, preparation, and performing. The ability to visualize music in great detail can improve the ease and dexterity with which it is performed. Visual imagery, auditory, [and] tactile modalities could form a very detailed composite of performing.” (pg. 207)

    There’s also an entire section on “Imagery” (pg. 182 – 187).

  18. “The technique of mental imagery [is] a fundamental tool for learning, memorizing, and performing music. You’ll discover how mental imaging can speed up the learning process and liberate your artistry.”

    – Gerald Klickstein (Author of The Musician’s Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness)

  19. While music seems to stimulate more areas of the brain than most other activities, the language center is not activated, according to some research (even though music is a language in and of itself). This explains why when we practice or perform, we can have everyday thoughts interfere with our music making – that have nothing to do with making music. Mental practice, particularly as described by G. Klickstein, is very helpful because it trains the language center of the brain to remain focused on the task at hand, i.e., music making. Instead of imaging words about what your schedule is like later in the week, we can count better (while playing) or anticipate more musical info. such as cues, dynamics, and so on. Consequently, mental practice also helps with memorizing music. By incorporating mental practice into practice routines, we then activate the full scope and potential of the musical brain for rehearsals, performances, lessons, and the like.

    You can view a video of me demonstrating mental practice on my Facebook page for wind players:

  20. Improvisation is useful because it covers more combinations and permutations than written scales, etudes, exercises, etc. Literature, in essence, can then serve as a baseline from which we can extend our individual creativity and improve our knowledge, understanding, and skills. Through improvisation, we can further customize music (internally) so that daily conditioning is better tailored to our individual needs. In doing so, we will discover (weaknesses in our playing) and can overcome (these) new challenges while playing beyond our current grade level; improvisation increases excellence. Advantageously, improvisation is flexible – allowing us to immediately change course in order to plunge deep into a solution(s).

    Therefore, improvisation is not necessarily arbitrary and can function as a deliberate form of practice in the fine arts. I mean this in terms of both silent practice, as illustrated on the bracket violin, and traditional acoustic practice (not to be confused with jazz/blues).

    “Students who lack improvisational agility often cave in… To acquire a fluid response, integrate improvisation drills into your practice… You don’t need the know-how of a jazz master to get through slips, but you can cultivate the tools to ad-lib out of trouble.” (Klickstein – The Musician’s Way)

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