workshop topics


Performance Enhancement and Topics Related to The Balanced Musician

·The Musician as Athlete: Implementing Research on Imagery and Mental Rehearsal from Sport Psychology into Music

While detailed practice leads to polish and preparation, musicians need a different set of skills to attain a more holistic mindset for peak performance. Beginning with a discussion on the similarities between athletes and musicians, the presenter will explore techniques used by sport psychologists to help athletes reach peak performance. These strategies lead to dependable memorization and the attainment of “flow” during performance when combined with the often-neglected areas of wellness such as sleep, proper diet, and self-care. 

·Performance Enhancement: Strengthening the Mind/Body Connection through Imagery, Meditation,  and Relaxation Techniques   

The best "practicers" are not always the best "performers." Learning to distinguish between these two mindsets can help musicians to achieve flow, spontaneity, and confidence in approaching a performance. To perform at their peak, musicians must develop the correct mindset to stay in the present and trust the body to react as it has been trained. This experiential workshop leads participants through cognitive strategies including imagery, meditation, and relaxation techniques.                   

·Yoga for Musicians: Research on its Physical, Cognitive, and Emotional Benefits

With the number of musicians suffering from injuries or performance anxiety on the rise, the practice of yoga offers promise to help musicians cope with the demands of their profession. Yoga can instill the skills for efficient, healthy, and mindful practice and can reduce performance anxiety by teaching the skills for relaxation and mindfulness. Furthermore, the body awareness and anatomical understanding built through a regular yoga practice helps musicians develop an efficient technical approach to their instrument. In addition to discussing research findings, the presenter will demonstrate some yoga postures that have particular benefits to performing musicians. 

·"Performance Anxiety": Learning to Use Nerves to Your Advantage for Peak Performance

The term "performance anxiety" can instill fear in anyone who believes they "suffer" from it. Yet, it is normal to get nervous before a performance, and it is not necessarily anything to be scared of. Relaxation techniques help musicians to reduce levels of arousal that are overly high so that they can use these symptoms to their advantage. Better concentration, more sensitive listening, and increased awareness can all be achieved to help musicians achieve the special spark that only happens during a live performance.

Other Pedagogical Workshop Topics

·Mobile Learning: Apps for Student Independence and Motivation

Having grown up with smartphones and IPads, millenial students and young "Gen Z" students are always connected, they learn by doing, and they expect fast results. Their multi-tasking lifestyle seems to contradict the focused, detailed practice required of developing musicians. Yet, they have far more access to information that allows for self-study at an individual pace. Apps provide a resource that can be used anywhere for any of the following: note reading, playing in an ensemble, reinforcing rhythm, keeping a practice journal, studying technique, sight-reading, organizing sheet music, and composing. 

·Positive Teaching: Getting the Best Out of Every Student 
Very rarely do we come across the “ideal student” who learns quickly, focuses during the lesson, practices well, and sounds musical. Instead, teachers often find that they need to be flexible in their approach to serve the unique needs of a diverse population of students. This requires CARE: Concern, Authenticity, Respect, and Empathy. With a consideration of the factors affecting student success and the symptoms of particular learning disorders, the presenter will share teaching strategies to help even “problem students” improve and stay motivated.     

Other workshop topics include:

·The Magic of Making Music in Groups: Teaching Group Piano to Beginners      

·A New Way of Listening: Twentieth-Century Compositions for the Elementary-Level Student

·Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness

·New Strategies for Dependable Memorization

·The Music of William Gillock     

·Music and Movement: Combining Yoga with an Early Childhood Music Curriculum           





·McAllister, Lesley Sisterhen. The Balanced Musician: Integrating Mind and Body for Peak Performance. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2013.

·Upcoming: “'Eine Kleine Yoga Musik:' An Early Childhood Music Program Utilizing Yoga Postures and Breath Work," accepted for publication in upcoming issue of American Music Teacher

·McAllister, Lesley. “Playing Healthy, Staying Healthy: Bringing it Together: What Are the Key Wellness Principles for the Music Teacher?” American Music Teacher 4, no. 3 (April/May 2015): 9-11.

·McAllister, Lesley. “This and That: Effective Motivation Strategies and Techniques.” American Music Teacher (June/July 2015).


·McAllister, Lesley Sisterhen. “Keeping the Fire Burning: How Overworked, Underappreciated Music Teachers Recover from Burnout.” Clavier Companion 4, no. 3 (May/June 2012): 40-42.


·McAllister, Lesley Sisterhen. “Positive Teaching: Stategies for Optimal Learning with ADHD and Hyperactive Students.” American Music Teacher 61, no. 4 (February/March 2012): 18-22.


·McAllister, Lesley Sisterhen.  “Should Music Be Fun?” American Music Teacher 59, no. 4 (February/March 2010): 16-19. Winner of the MTNA Article of the Year Award.


·McAllister, Lesley Sisterhen.  “The Benefits of Stretching for Musicians.” MTNA E-Journal 1, no. 2 (November 2009). (accessed July 17, 2010).


·McAllister, Lesley Sisterhen. “Evaluating Teaching Effectiveness in Applied Music.” American Music Teacher 58, no. 1(December/January 2008/2009): 14-17. 


·Sisterhen, Lesley. “Teaching Musicality in Group Piano Classes.” Piano Pedagogy Forum 10, no. 2 (July 2007) (accessed July 17, 2010).


·Sisterhen, Lesley.  “Enhancing Your Musical Performance Abilities.” American Music Teacher 54, no. 1 (August/September 2004): 32-36. 


·McAllister, Lesley Sisterhen.  “Keeping the Fire Burning: How Overworked, Underappreciated Teachers Recover From Burnout.” Clavier Companion (May/June 2012).


·McAllister, Lesley Sisterhen. “How Do You Develop a Sense of Rhythm in Your Adult Students?” Keyboard Companion 19, no. 3 (Autumn 2008): 42-43.