Currently, 75% of classical musicians develop practice-related injuries, and most rely on drugs known as beta blockers to reduce symptoms of stage fright. The Art of Practicing Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of music education and performance for the benefit of musicians and their audiences. Through innovative teaching methods, our unique programs and products get to the root of musicians’ problems and help them reduce physical and mental tension, recover from practice-related injuries, eliminate dependence on drugs to combat performance anxiety, and perform with ease, confidence, and communicative power.
The Institute was founded in 2002 by pianist Madeline Bruser, author of The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart. Acclaimed by world-renowned musicians and translated into three languages, this groundbreaking book outlines a comprehensive, step-by-step approach to practice and performance that integrates mindfulness-awareness techniques with healthy body mechanics and rhythmic principles. The Institute supports the educational activities of a network of music teachers trained in this unique approach, so that their students can develop physical, mental, and emotional freedom in making music, and thus bring greater joy to themselves and to their audiences.
“When I enrolled in The Art of Practicing Institute’s summer program, I hoped to expunge a paralyzing performance anxiety that had plagued me for over a decade. The experience was transformative: I performed a solo work on the final concert without the aid of beta blockers — something I had not done for over four years — and the outcome was deeply satisfying. I fell in love with my cello all over again, finally reclaiming the music for myself!”
Ruth Ann Scanzillo, cellist, Erie, Pennsylvania
“I began working with the Art of Practicing approach after a performance-related injury. Almost immediately, my whole physical approach to the piano became lighter and freer, and I could play again without aggravating the injury. Even more importantly, my mental and emotional attitudes have improved—I have been enjoying practicing again.”
Cathy Corcoran, accompanist and teacher, New Jersey
Founding teacher Madeline Bruser, a graduate of the Juilliard School, began her training in mindfulness techniques at 29, after achieving a fair amount of success as a young artist but still feeling dissatisfied with how she felt on stage. Practicing mindfulness meditation resulted in a profound change in her practicing, performing, and teaching. She began giving seminars called The Art of Practicing in 1985, and musicians of many different instruments soon sought her help with problems of tension, injury, and performance anxiety. Her book was published in 1997, has sold over 80,000 copies in English, and has been translated into Korean, Chinese, and Italian.
- Over 2,000 musicians have benefited from working with our faculty, through our annual summer program, workshops, and private lessons, including online instruction
- Performers and music teachers from eight countries have received training at our summer program
- Hundreds of music students have been learning our techniques from these teachers.
- Music students at colleges and conservatories in four countries have attended workshops with our senior teachers in those countries
- 18 pianists with practice-related injuries have retrained their technique with founding teacher Madeline Bruser, enabling them to resume their performing careers
- Musicians in six countries and four continents now participate in our three online video group workshops, each meeting twice monthly, where they are receiving valuable, ongoing guidance and support from our faculty
- One day of video shooting has been completed for a major educational video on the Art of Practicing which will reach thousands of musicians
- We have audio recorded Madeline Bruser’s 2016 instruction in the Performing Beyond Fear Exercise, for public distribution
” The API summer programs gave me a safe place to voice my fears of failure, inadequacy, and vulnerability, and provided the support, empathy, and compassion, as well as tremendous practical tools, to move beyond those fears. As a result, at the closing concert, for the first time in my life, I felt free and joyous throughout my performance. The question I had been asking for over 20 years, throughout my university and professional career – Is it possible to be unafraid, centered, and free during a performance? – has been answered with a resounding YES. Working with Madeline and her teachings has given me great insight into the human condition and has made me a better teacher, a better musician, and a better human being. I am honored to now be on the API faculty and am 100% committed to this way of teaching and playing.”
Tracy Stuchbery, pianist, British Columbia, 2017 API Assistant Teacher
Through our unique and comprehensive mind-body approach to practice and performance, we aim to revolutionize the teaching of music throughout the world by
- Training more teachers
- Conducting more workshops in college music departments and conservatories
- Creating and distributing audio and video teaching materials
- Developing more online instruction programs
- Lengthening and expanding our summer institute to include more faculty and students
- Establishing our own accredited, year-round music conservatory
2017 Projects include:
- Completing shooting for a major educational video on the Art of Practicing
- Providing scholarships to worthy musicians for the 2017 summer program
- Editing and distributing the audio of Madeline Bruser’s instruction in her unique exercise, Performing Beyond Fear, from the 2016 summer program.
“Doing the Performing Beyond Fear exercise before each performance quite honestly transformed my experience of performing. I actually found myself enjoying the moment, and feeling like I could lose my ego to some extent and just give the music to the audience.”
Felicity Corrie, cellist and teacher, Bedford, UK, Cambridge University Alumna
We envision a world in which musicians are free to play with tremendous confidence and communicative power, allowing them to transmit immense joy and brilliance to their audiences, and greater wisdom to the next generation of musicians.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Madeline Bruser, President and Artistic Director
Paul Walker, Secretary
Amy Lam, Treasurer
Daniel Burdick, Administrative Director of Summer Program
BOARD OF ADVISORS