Know the world is a good place to be right now

Dear #ClassicalMusic Fan,

Happy New Year!

That’s it.

Letter done.

Oh wait, that’s not a “lesson” though, is it?

I mean, how does me wishing you a Happy New Year help you accomplish far more than you ever thought possible?

And I promised you a lesson every weekday.


So here it is:

Regardless of what you have going on today, find yourself five minutes and lock yourself away somewhere – even the bathroom if you have a crowded house.

Take your phone with you, plug in your headphones.

Sit back, relax, close your eyes, and listen to this piece of music:


Now you can get on with your day refreshed, with more focus and energy, and knowing that the world is a good place to be right now.

Do this regularly, particularly on Holidays and during dinners with relatives, and you’ll reset yourself to accomplish far more, than had you not taken that little break.

For more tips like these on a regular, more personal basis that work for you, sign up for my coaching:


What’s good and what’s not about that performance?

Dear #ClassicalMusic Fan,

I’m going to do something really very special in the New Year.

In my monthly printed bulletin for performing musicians (full-time, part-time, hobbyist), I’m going to demonstrate one aspect of my coaching: the Performance Review.

Let’s look at a video on Youtube or Vimeo of a recital.

(A music recital consists of performances by one performer at a time, or perhaps a performer with a piano or guitar accompaniment.)

And I’ll review it.

At first I thought I’d just pick a video at random, but that doesn’t give you any confidence because it might not be all that “random” in reality, so how about YOU pick a video for me?!

It can be a video of your own performance if you’re brave enough, or of anyone’s: Do a search on Youtube for “recital” (you might want to add the name of an instrument as well, such as violin or marimba or something), and pick one of those videos that is at least 10 minutes long. Clearly they have put themselves “out there” in the world for all to see so they should not mind if I make a comment or two, right?!

Email me the video’s URL link.

And I’ll add it to my list for review.

When I review their performance, we’ll get it transcribed for my bulletin so that subscribers can actually see the kind of things to look out for in their own performances – recital or otherwise.

Hopefully you’ll be one of them.

Of course, if you want me to actually review your own performances without sharing it with the World of SPB, then that’s actual coaching which you’ll have to pay for.

You can do that from this page:

Otherwise, send me a video URL and then sign up for my monthly newsletter when it’s published next month.

I’ll let you know when you can do that 🙂


Careful you focus on the right things

Dear #ClassicalMusic Fan,

Have you gotten goose-bumps during a concert?

When you perform, have you experienced them spine-tingling thrills, or hair-raising moments?

It is very likely you did at some point.

And when you think about it, those are the moments in live music we crave, right? Doesn’t matter if they occur in concert, in rehearsal, during a lesson, or when we’re practicing at home… we love those moments!

So how come we don’t get them as often as we’d like?

  • One reason is that we think they are easy to come by.
  • Another reason is that we think once we’ve experienced them we now know how to get them again, and all we have to do is repeat the steps that created them last time.
  • Another reason for some is that those moments have become the ultimate goal – the purpose of live music.
  • Another reason could be that we chase those moments so hard that we don’t actually allow ourselves to experience them. Musicians who are exclusively technical have that problem.

So what’s up with that?

We’ve become goosebump junkies.

There’s nothing wrong with goosebumps – they are great, wonderful, terrific and downright beautiful moments.

Much like coffee.

But too much coffee, and too much watered-down coffee, we no longer feel its effect and taste its marvelous subtle tastes. We become junkies needing more and more, with stronger artificial flavors, and eventually we need medications to help us stop twittering and shaking from too much caffeine.

Same with those musical goosebumps.

Instead of making those moments the ultimate goal, we need to make music – and the sharing of it – our ultimate goal. When we do that to the best of our ability, those goosebump moments occur more often, mean more, are much stronger, and are a pure delight.

But they are not our focus, they are not our goal, they are not ‘the reason’ for sharing live music with each other.

As Tim Keller inferred: Exuberance without discipline is futile.

Joy without effort is pointless.

We must focus on letting our music speak to the world.

When we do so together with others, the result is often a few goosebump moments. But look for and expect those moments to happen, and your music-making is worthless. Pointless. Ain’t gonna happen.

Focus on your technique, give attention to listening, exaggerate what needs to be expressed, and let your instrument (including the voice) sing.

I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about what happens when you do!

We all need help balancing our effort with our desire for pleasurable experiences. Teachers can often hint at such matters, but that’s the primary domain of coaches. A coach helps you keep things in balance, and helps you accomplish far more than you ever thought possible.

Don’t believe me?

Book a free 30-minute consultation with your favorite US-based classical music coach from the UK who’s been around the block a few times, and you’ll be pretty convinced, I’m sure:

Sign up now for a session next week:


Did you learn by trial and error too?

Dear #ClassicalMusic Fan,

You know, most of the time music teachers teach instrumental or singing technique.

Which is very important.

But students tend to learn performance etiquette and techniques by watching, following, and trial and error.

What a pity!

Here’s what someone said after their first coaching session with me:

“My first coaching session with Stephen was totally inspiring! Overall, I learned a bunch and was both challenged and stimulated to think differently about my approach to a concert career lifestyle!” Melissa Petrescue, piano

Melissa’s life has changed dramatically since that first coaching session, and I’m sure yours might, too.

No matter if you want to perform full-time, part-time, or just occasionally for fun…

Perform Better.


Get coaching!


Who’s telling your story?

Dear #ClassicalMusic Fan,

This holiday season did you watch any of your favorite movies?

I did.

More than a fair share, perhaps!

One was the original Broadway production of Into The Woods on Youtube, and another was The Muppets Christmas Carol.

Do you know what they both had in common with each other?

A narrator that bridged the story and the audience.

Many stage productions of Into The Woods dress the narrator up as a fairy-tale character, which actually takes away the connection that a regular jacket & tie narrator brings. And in the Muppets Christmas Carol the narrator Gonzo and his side-kick Rizzo are as much watching the action as you are, creating a marvelous bridge between the story and you.

Who’s telling your story?

Or, are you a narrator?

Depends what story you are trying to share with the world, right?

Some biographies are interesting, and we learn a lot from them, but it’s more exciting and engaging when the story is bigger than one individual. All the best plays, musicals, books and movies are about something bigger than the main character.

So, what if “live music” were our story?

That would make every performer a narrator of sorts.

And how can we best tell the story, bridging the gap between the music and the audience?

That’s the life-long journey we are all on.

And I’d love to help you along that journey.

Find out more about my coaching programs here:

Do you keep your promises?

Dear #ClassicalMusic Fan,

Why am I sending you a letter on a Holiday?

Because it’s a weekday, and I promised I’d write to you every weekday.

Almost 1/3 of the planet’s population (2.2 Billion)1 celebrate Jesus Christ’s birthday today, and 83% of the countries in the world have bought into the commercialized version of Christmas (which was originally a Mass for Christ, or Christ’s Mass) and for them, today is a National Holiday anyway2

Although I do have readers of these daily letters in Russia, China, Qatar, Israel and Tunisia, the vast majority of readers are, probably like you, in the West and therefore taking the day off.


I’m still keeping my promise that I’d write to you every weekday with a lesson that will help you accomplish far more than you ever thought possible!

So, here are the lessons for today:

  1. Keep your word, and
  2. The greed of consumerism has the ability to change the world dramatically.

I also believe the power of live music has the ability to change the world dramatically, and we can all play our own little part in our own little corner of the world.

Let me help you see that and accomplish that.

Get 30 minutes on the phone with me for free:







1. Source:World’s Muslim Population Will Surpass Christians This Century, Pew Says, accessed 12/24/17

2. Source: Countries That Don’t Celebrate Christmas, accessed 12/24/17

Why: Take it slow.

Dear #ClassicalMusic Fan,

See that punctuation in the title?

Punctuation matters.

Remember this one?

“A woman, without her man, is nothing.”

“A woman: without her, man is nothing.”

So it could be with today’s title.

Most people would want to read it as

Why take it slow?

Whereas the lesson I want to share with you today literally is about Why, and why you should take it slow.

For every goal you are planning for 2018 (forget “New Year’s Resolutions” – are you really going to resolve anything?!), I strongly recommend you figure out why you want to achieve that goal.

And I don’t just mean a quick, “I’ll be healthier,” (if your goal is to lose some weight… which in itself is not a goal).

But take your time to figure out the true Why.

For example, my goal to achieve a certain, very specific weight by a certain, very specific date actually has two Whys:

  1. My doc tells me I will be able to stop taking all my pills if I achieve that weight. YEY!
  2. I want to wear good fashionable suits again.

I’m fed up of walking past gentlemen’s boutiques simply because I know that my body type doesn’t fit into those nice looking clothes, like it used to. Experience has taught me that I’d have to get the designs custom made, and that is very expensive. Too expensive for my liking (Fashion is great, but not a very high priority in my budget!)

What’s your Why?

Take your time – days, in fact – to explore why you want to achieve something, because it will help motivate you over the next several months as you work towards your goal.

How do you find your Why?

It’s simple and monotonous: keep asking why…

I want to lose weight. Why?

  • Day 1 – Because it’s healthy for me. Why?
  • Day 2 – Because it’s what the doctor ordered. Why?
  • Day 3 – Because I want my body to be able to cope with its own processing and healing. Why?
  • Day 4 – Because I don’t want to take any more pills. Why?
  • Day 5 – Because we still don’t know what the lifetime effects of most manufactured pills are, so it’s a good thing to rely on real [organic, if affordable] foodstuffs if we can. Hmm… that’s important to me.

It took five days to find my Why.

The Why gives you the momentum to keep going.

So make it a good Why.

Take it slow when finding it.

Now on to the reason for my writing to you today:

A good coach will always help you identify the Why behind your intentions. It’s easy to find a Why for losing weight. It’s not so easy finding Whys for performing, teaching, or administration.

That’s why you need a coach.

If you learn from the lessons in my daily letters that are free, just imagine what you could accomplish working with me professionally!

Let’s get started – setup your free consultation: