Thinking and Playing Music

Thinking and Playing Music

Intentional Strategies for Optimal Practice and Performance

Sheryl Iott


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Thinking and Playing Music: Intentional Strategies for Optimal Practice and Performance distills cutting-edge teaching and learning methods for musicians of all levels, investigating topics in cognitive science that apply directly to musical development. Containing over one-hundred musical examples, many from the standard piano repertoire, Sheryl Iott uses accessible language to impart practical suggestions that anyone can incorporate into their practice.

Maximizing efficiency and effectiveness while cultivating an observant, experimental approach can help musicians make the most of their time and potential while avoiding tension, injury, and burnout. Aligning efforts with inherent mental processes can make learning faster, deeper, and more secure while freeing up attentional space, allowing for creative, personal expression in performance. The book addresses:

  • Beginning musicianship, covering relevant cognition topics such as language acquisition, aural processing and development of audiation while cultivating a playful, relaxed approach to the instrument
  • The intermediate musician, presenting more advanced cognitive topics such as visual processing, chunking, and early problem solving
  • The advanced musician, addressing increased demands on working and long-term memory, how to maximize transfer, a creative approach to problem solving, and strategies to tackle the most difficult repertoire

Also included are sample lesson plans, workshop templates, and sample practice assignments.


Sheryl Iott:

Sheryl Iott is an active solo and collaborative performer, speaker, and adjudicator. Iott is on the faculty of Interlochen Arts Camp and has served on the faculties of Grand Rapids Community College, Hope College, Michigan State University, and Calvin College. She is also a member of the College of Examiners for the Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto. Frequently published in music education and piano pedagogy books and magazines, Iott’s current research is focusing on music cognition and cognition-enhanced practice strategies.