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March 8, 2024

I went to a concert Sunday, something I rarely do anymore, and it did not disappoint! On the contrary, I found it one of the most moving and beautiful concerts I’ve ever attended as an audience member (and as you can imagine, I’ve been to a LOTTTT of concerts in my life, so this is saying a LOTTTT!).

I attended the concert with my son, Rafael, which is always a special joy. We went to hear the Rosamunde Quartet – mainly to hear my friend Noah Bendix-Balgley (1st concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic); along with Noah’s wife Shanshan Yao, concert violinist and former member of the Pittsburgh Symphony and New York Philharmonic; Teng Li, principal violist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; and Nathan Vickery, cellist in the New York Philharmonic.

So much about this concert was stellar:

  • Each musician was fully present, engaged, inspired, flexible, and emotionally available.
  • The repertoire was well-chosen:
    • Haydn Op. 20, No. 2, with a gorgeous Adagio
    • Credo, a fantastic piece by NYC composer Kevin Puts
    • Beethoven Op. 132
  • The slow movement of the Beethoven, with tastefully vibrato-free, pure chorales that literally caused the tears to flow with the transcendent beauty that surely uplifted the spirits of all present… SO beautiful – this was pure prayer!

The lively engagement and excellent ensemble, playful and responsive communication, and clearly communicated LOVE from each musician was reflected with an instant and universal standing ovation at the end, which was absolutely deserved. I shouted “encore” a couple times, hoping… but the concert was quite full as it was.

I was so happy to connect with Noah again, whose father changed my life with those first Alexander Technique lessons I took here at the Bendix-Balgley home in Cincinnati in 2003. I wrote quite a bit about that experience in my book, ‘Make Great Music with Ease! The Secret to Smarter Practice, Confident Performance, and Living a Happier Life’.

It was a real pleasure to meet Noah’s wife, Shanshan, for the first time, and it was fun to be able to give each musician a signed copy of my book. 🙂

I also enjoyed giving my book to another colleague I bumped into in the audience, and also a lovely young violinist aiming to go to medical school soon, who studied violin in the same violin group as Rafael when they were kids.

Here are a few pictures: an old picture of Noah and myself when we played together for an Apollo’s Fire concert years ago (he was performing the Beethoven violin concerto, and then sat in the first violin section with us for the remainder of the concert!); a picture of the quartet playing Beethoven yesterday; and a picture of Sophie with my book! 🙂

Going to a concert like this feeds the soul. I’m feeling so grateful for MUSIC and FRIENDS today!! ❤️

On a related note…

My students sometimes ask me for examples of musicians who play without tension. Well, there really aren’t any! (Though Yehudi Menuhin immediately comes to mind when I think of violinists.)

In itself, there’s nothing wrong with tension. In fact, we NEED tension, or we wouldn’t be able to function!

However, excessive or inappropriate tension can be a real problem, because it interferes with optimum performance in many ways. It can show up as pain or physical discomfort, performance anxiety, mind-wandering, problems with technique or musical expression, dampened enjoyment, and so much more.

Excess tension is an insidious, common, subtle (or not so subtle), problem that is rarely recognized as the source of most of our other, more “popular” problems as musicians.

It was a real pleasure to see the musicians from the Rosamunde Quartet playing with relatively less tension than what is commonly seen amongst musicians, in my experience. There was a great deal of flexibility, and when there was too much tension, there would often be some kind of release from that coming soon.

The best part, though, was sensing how much they were enjoying the music they were playing, and the other musicians they were playing with.

If you’re feeling like you could benefit from learning how to play with less tension (or pain, performance anxiety, frustration, etc.), please don’t hesitate to contact me and we can have a chat about how I might be able to help you.

I promise what I can teach you will make a HUGE difference – in both your music-making and your whole life. I’m not exaggerating.

(Even Noah took an Alexander Technique lesson with me once!  😉  Why not see what’s possible for you??)

May you learn to play with more and more ease, enjoyment, and LOVE… like the wonderful musicians I heard Sunday afternoon! ❤️

With Joy & Enthusiasm,

p.s. Just send me a message if you’d like to learn more about how I can help you play pain-free, tension-free, stress-free… and with a LOT more enjoyment and ease! 🙂






instruments, learning, musicians

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