Passionate, irreverent and often opinionated discussions on all things piano related as well as interviews, news, tips and reviews.
United Kingdom
19 episodes
since Aug. 24, 2018


I was so excited about interviewing Karen Bulmer that it only very recently occurred to me after recording the interview that Karen is not actually a pianist! But every musician will get so much from listening to this episode, and I think particularly us pianists who often have to juggle so many things happening at once in our music will really benefit from so much of the conversation between me and Karen. Karen is an incredibly clear thinker and communicator, with thoughtful responses on some of my favourite topics such as skilful use of attention in practice and performance, narrow and wide focus, internal and external focus, perfectionism in classical music, meditation and music, beginner’s mind, movement and music, and all that good stuff! I very much recommend all musicians to check out the Music, Mind, and Movement Podcast that Karen runs- she’s had some amazing guests and all the interviews are fantastic. In episode 9, Karen actually got a student to interview her, so you can hear a lot about her background and work there. Rather than repeat that format for this interview at Heart of the Piano, I thought it would be interesting to have more of a two-way conversation and go deeper into many of the topics dear to my heart that I’ve heard Karen’s guests discuss on her podcast. Show Notes A brief ‘taster’ of Karen’s background and biography- check episode 9 of her podcast for more information- link below! [1:20] Feeling and controlling the the flow of attention when practising [4:40] Switching between narrow and broad attention in an agile way Embodied attention Tactics for becoming embodied when performing [10:50] Sports psychology, and external vs internal focus for musicians [12:20] Narrow focus, posture and movement [19:00] Focus and the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), including effects on anxiety Neurofeedback West/East cultural differences in perception- object based vs. relationship/contextual ways of perceiving Perfectionism in classical music [30:10] Meditation, open awareness, ‘just sit’, non-striving [36:10] Effect on music making Practising the perfectionism on/off switch when practising classical music [46:20] The concept of holding lightly Beginner’s mind [54:10] Movement techniques and strategies for musicians [46:40] Being efficient with movement and expression What to do with stiff, non-moving students [1:02:20] How can we nurture heartfelt musical expression in students? [1:05:50] Links: Karen’s interview on her own Music, Mind, and Movement Podcast: https://musicmindandmovement.com/podcast-2/2018/12/14/ep-9-turning-the-tables-withme-karen-bulmer A research paper that describes the exact external focus strategies Karen was referring to in this episode, including details about the experiment that showed a difference between instructions on pushing your foot against the floor vs focusing on calf muscles: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153816/ Publications by Gabriele Wulf who studies the effects of different attentional styles in sports and music: http://gwulf.faculty.unlv.edu/publications-2/ This paper in particular is a useful summary of the field of research of external vs internal attention and includes studies on musicians: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271992035_Attentional_focus_and_motor_learning_A_review_of_15_years Karen’s interview with Vanessa Mulvey on the Music, Mind, and Movement Podcast, where Vanessa describes the process of widening the visual field: https://musicmindandmovement.com/podcast-2/2019/1/11/ep-10-with-vanessa-mulvey The Open-Focus Brain by Les Fehmi: https://www.amazon.com/Open-Focus-Brain-Harnessing-Power-Attention/dp/1590306120 as well as some of his guided meditations: https://openfocus.com/shop/ The Muse neurofeedback headband I use for meditation (and sometimes practising the piano!): https://choosemuse.com/muse/ A compelling review of the research showing the differences in perception and focus styles between Westerners and East Asians: https://www.pnas.org/content/100/19/11163 And another interesting paper on this topic: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894690/ Research showing two types of attention involving different brain circuits: object-based attention, and spatial attention: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410141912.htm ‘Music is the silence between the notes’- quote by Debussy: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/673391-music-is-the-silence-between-the-notes The practice of the ‘just sit’ meditation in the Triratna Buddhist Order: https://thebuddhistcentre.com/text/just-sitting Karen’s interview with John Morrison on the Music, Mind, and Movement Podcast where they discuss a similar ‘just sit’ zen meditation: https://musicmindandmovement.com/podcast-2/john-morrison Different meditation techniques can have very different effects! https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140813103138.htm Research showing the importance of visual cues such as movement for the perception of expression in musical performance: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0305735607086046 and https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1994-16090-001 Notes: The intro/outro music is ‘Pulleys, Gear, Cogs, and Levers’ by Ben Miles, played by Karen Bulmer
Disclaimer: The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from Bob Rose, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.


Why to claim podcasts?

If you are a podcaster, the best way to manage your podcasts on Listen Notes is by claiming your Listen Notes podcast pages. It is a great, free way to engage the podcast community and increase the visibility of your podcasts.
After claiming your Listen Notes podcast pages, you will be able to:
Manually refresh the RSS feed to sync up
Get a verified badge (
) alongside with your podcast name on Listen Notes
Post classified ads for sponsorship, guests, co-hosts, cross-promotion...
Coming soon:
Self-service promotion on Listen Notes
Use speech-to-text techniques to transcribe your show and edit transcripts
Improve the presence of your podcasts, e.g., self served podcaster interview...
Respond to listener comments on Listen Notes
Track your podcast stats on Listen Notes, e.g., listens, page views...
Manage episodes


Thank you for helping to keep the podcast database up to date.