Summer Program

Mindfulness, Confidence & Performance:
A Transformative Program for Musicians

at Edinboro University, Erie, PA
July 22 – 29, 2017

The Institute’s annual summer program, Mindfulness, Confidence, & Performance, takes place at Edinboro University, in Erie Pennsylvania. It offers instruction in mindfulness techniques, discussion groups, and music workshops, culminating in a final concert. The program has attracted musicians from across the US, Canada, Iceland, Kenya, the Netherlands, Kosovo, Korea, and Israel, including current students and graduates of the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Yale University, and the San Francisco Conservatory.


To musicians who want more confidence in performance:

No matter how much we prepare for a performance, when the moment comes to step into the light onstage, we may lack confidence and fail to shine our brightest. Passages we’ve practiced hard may even fall apart, and we may not know why, or how to do better the next time. We may wonder how some musicians rise to the occasion and radiate confidence in performance—how that scary moment in the spotlight brings out their very best.

We try many things to achieve confidence in performance. We push ourselves to practice extra hours. We repeat tough passages countless times in a joyless, desperate way to gain technical security. We give ourselves energetic pep talks backstage. Or we take pills before going onstage to slow down our racing heart and to prevent our hands from shaking.

The problem in each of these approaches is that we are run by fear. It is fear and desperation that drive us to overexert, to over-think, or to cover up our symptoms with medication. And as long as we approach performing in this way, we remain victims of our fear instead of learning to rise above it and master it. We never find out how proud and powerful we could really be in performance.

To master our fear we need to strengthen our presence of mind—to free our mind of distraction and judgment. Then we can use our mind to focus on what really matters: our connection with our instrument, with the music, and with ourselves—with our deepest musical feelings and our innermost motivation to perform. When our mind is fully engaged with all of these things, we can then fully engage with our audience. We can fulfill our musical gift by giving it to others in performance.

Tuesday - Lara 3You can strengthen your presence of mind through a practice called mindfulness. Mindfulness means noticing what’s happening in the present moment—both within you and around you. It includes observing the details of how you use your body with your instrument, and focusing intently on how sounds affect you. It also includes tuning into your body before you practice, and tuning into your deep intentions before you walk onstage. As you practice such awareness, your instrumental technique, your musicality, your stage presence, and your communicative power all grow stronger. In fact, they begin to outweigh your fear, and you become fearless in performance.

Since 1985, I’ve helped thousands of musicians fulfill more of their potential by using mindfulness techniques—in workshops, summer programs, and private sessions, and through my highly acclaimed book, The Art of Practicing. And since 2006, I’ve helped hundreds more musicians find powerful confidence onstage through my unique mindfulness technique, Performing Beyond Fear. You, too, can learn these techniques to bring out more of the music that is within you and to give it fearlessly to your audience.

Mindfulness, Confidence, and Performance is a weeklong summer program designed to guide you toward a new level of confidence in performance. In workshops with and without your instrument, you will learn simple, potent techniques that will transform your practicing and performing. The non-competitive environment, daily discussion groups, and ample practice time will enable you to absorb what you have learned and deepen your understanding.

Even if you’ve never done mindfulness techniques before, this program will give you the instruction and experience you need to apply these techniques directly to your preparation for performance. Whether you are a concert artist, an aspiring performer, or a dedicated teacher, Mindfulness, Confidence, and Performance will open your mind to surprising, new possibilities, and take you to a whole new level of confidence onstage.

I invite you to join us on the beautiful campus of Edinboro University for this exciting, transformative week this summer.

Madeline Bruser
Director of The Art of Practicing Institute

You’ll come away with

  • A reliable method for practicing with more ease and focus
  • The ability to play with more emotional intensity yet less physical tension
  • Greater access to your deepest musical potential
  • Stronger stage presence
  • A potent three-step technique for unlocking your communicative power and transforming stage fright into confidence


“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

“The summer institute really started the ball rolling for me. My voice continues to improve and my upper range has expanded. I didn’t think I’d get those notes back.”

Kathy Keegan, soprano, New York City

“Practicing this way cuts to the core rather than working on the surface. I have much more ease in playing; tension is falling away.”

Cathy Baerg, flutist, Ottawa, Ontario, Faculty, Carleton University

“It made me become a more genuine person, and that extends to my musicianship. I felt more at ease being myself onstage.”

Nora Krohn, violist and teacher, New York City

“My confidence has soared.”

Martha Sanders Brandt, pianist, Florida

“My time at API this summer gave me the courage and support to do what I have always wanted to do with my piano students. Every one of my students has been open to this process and it is transforming our time together. The approach has transformed not only my own playing, but theirs as well. I feel empowered and strong.”

Tracy Stuchbery, pianist, Artistic Director, Penticton Academy of Music, British Columbia

“I played tremendously better while practicing, with more energy and way less  physical tension. . . . The world needs this.” 

Roger Farwell, classical guitarist, Master of Music, Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore

“It is nearly impossible to encapsulate the magnitude of the transformative experience of the API summer program with a few words. Madeline and her assistants were profoundly intuitive, kind, brilliantly insightful, and artfully skilled in connecting us all together in a non-competitive, warm atmosphere. My body has begun to unwind years of physical muscle tension and clenching, and I am able to breathe more easily and freely. My musical soul has begun to resurface, and I am reconnecting to the joy of being a creative, artistic musician, both physically and emotionally. I am so incredibly grateful for Madeline’s profound wisdom, and for having had the privilege of personally experiencing her seemingly magical teaching expertise.”

Pamela Smitter, Principal Trumpet, West Michigan Symphony

“The API summer program was one of the most enriching and special events of my life. I learned techniques that transformed my playing, and I believe that all musicians and teachers should have these techniques. Meeting so many of my peers from all around the world and sharing our experiences was also so wonderful and enlightening. I highly recommend this program to musicians everywhere.” 

 Njomza Kastrati, pianist, Kosovo

“Before I came to the API summer program, I felt very alone with music, not understanding why I was so afraid about performing. The teaching and the wonderful community at this program helped me understand and appreciate myself, so I was able to put all of my own colors into the music. Madeline helped me realize that the connection between music and the player’s spirit is more important than playing perfectly, and I gave the best and happiest performance I’ve ever played on the closing concert. Since this program, I am able to continually come back to a really human and fulfilling way of practicing.” 

See Young Song, flutist, Korea


“This work is magical. I have better tone and a clarity that is beyond anything I ever imagined. I didn’t realize I could still make this kind of transformation and progress.”

 Tang-mei Shieh, pianist, graduate of Manhattan School of Music

“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, Cambridge University Alumna

“The Art of Practicing Institute changed my life as a musician. After earning a master’s degree in piano performance from a major conservatory, I struggled for years with debilitating performance anxiety and frustration. This work has enabled me to recapture my earlier love and enthusiasm for music and performing, and to raise the level of my playing to an astonishing degree. It has provided an oasis for my musical struggles.”

Timothy Mueller, pianist, graduate of Eastman School of Music


Program Director

Madeline Bruser, pianist and author of The Art of Practicing, will be the Program Director. She will teach the main music workshops and will co-lead the discussion groups each day. Click here for her biography.

Assistant Teachers

Six Assistant Teachers will work with five selected non-performing participants in a second set of workshops:

Tal Varon, saxophonist, Tel Aviv, Israel. Faculty, Israel Conservatory. Authorized Meditation Instructor. Certified Focusing Trainer.

Stephen Burns, trumpeter. Artistic Director, Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Former tenured professor at the Indiana University School of Music, visiting lecturer at Northwestern University and Amici della Musica in Florence.

Nora Krohn, violist, New York.

Cathy Baerg, flutist, Faculty, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario

Tracy Stuchbery, pianist and choral conductor, British Columbia


You can enroll in the program at one of two levels of participation:

1. Performing Participants

Six musicians will be selected by application to play or sing in the daily music workshops. Each performing participant will have three individual sessions with Madeline Bruser, and all other participants will observe the sessions. In each session you will learn mindfulness techniques for playing with less tension and more expressive freedom and authenticity. Pianists will also receive some instruction in easeful posture and movement. All performing participants take part in the daily discussion groups, and will be invited to perform in a public concert on the last night of the program. Download the application form.

2. Non-performing participants 

As many as twenty musicians may enroll as non-performing participants. Non-performing participants may be musicians at any level of study or expertise. If you choose this option, you will learn all of the techniques in the program and will have the opportunity to apply them in daily practicing with your instrument. You will also take part in the daily discussion groups, which will be led by Madeline Bruser.

Six of the non-performing participants will be selected to participate in workshops with the Assistant Teachers. These teachers all have significant prior experience with the techniques taught in the program. Each non-performing participant who is selected to work with one of these assistant teachers will receive guidance in two 45-minute sessions. If you are interested in working with an assistant teacher, please e-mail the Program Director, Madeline Bruser, at

Housing and Meals

Participants will stay on campus in dormitories, and meals will be served in the campus dining hall. Refrigerators are available in dormitories. Special diets can be accommodated by the dining hall with advance notice.

Traveling to Erie, Pennsylvania

Erie, Pennsylvania has an airport, train station, and bus station. For directions to Erie by car, plane, train, or bus, please contact the Administrative Director of the program, Daniel Burdick, at

Program Fees

Performing Participants: $950, plus housing and meals. Although tuition covers only 50% of the program expenses, some scholarship assistance will be available for qualified applicants. Please indicate on your application if you will need a scholarship. We also encourage participants to raise funds through

Non-performing Participants: $400.


Housing and Meals Costs

Total housing and meals cost will be $450.

Dates and Times

The program will begin on Saturday evening July 22 at 8:00 pm. It will end after a celebratory lunch on Saturday July 29.

If you have any questions about the program, please contact the Program Director, Madeline Bruser, at