contact ME

Use the form on the right to send me an email and I will get back to you as soon as possible.



123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789


You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: productivity

Seven Tools I Used in 2014 that Made It My Most Productive Year Yet

Andrew Hitz

Looking back on 2014, I am happy to report that on many fronts it was the most productive year I've ever had.  When things are going well in any aspect of my life I try to notice what I'm doing so I can continue doing those things.  As Mr. Jacobs would say "Catch yourself doing something right."

The following is a list of tools (most of them apps) that I used all the time in 2014 that helped me to stay organized, stay inspired, and kept me productive.  If you have any tools or apps that you use to stay productive I would love to hear about them in the comments!





I use Evernote to keep track of absolutely everything.  I have music stored here, notes from practice sessions, notes I've taken in master classes, important paperwork for gigs, EVERYTHING.  The best part about having everything in one place is that you always know right where to find whatever you are looking for.  You can even take a photograph of a document and it is completely searchable by text - even handwritten! 

Evernote seamlessly syncs across the desktop, phones, and tablets so whatever you are looking for is always where you need it.  I can't imagine my life as a performer, teacher, or entrepreneur, without Evernote.


Wunderlist is the best app I've found for making lists - and I've tried a whole lot of them.  Like Evernote, it seamlessly syncs across all platforms and you can also share lists with other people, as I do with Lance LaDuke for our Pedal Note Media action items.  You can set reminders for individual tasks and also "star" important ones.  This app keeps me focused on the important tasks I have in front of me.


The Due app is what I use whenever I need to quickly set a specific reminder for a task.  The best part of this app is that when a reminder goes off, with one tap you can either "snooze" the reminder 10 minutes, 60 minutes, or 24 hours.  It dings every minute until you tell it to go away or until you tell it when to bother you again.  

I am always nagging my students about setting reminders specifically for when they can actually accomplish what needs doing.  This app is perfect for that.  It is also great for setting regular alarms for things like paying your credit card bill, quarterly IRS payments, even remembering people's birthdays.

Unroll Me Logo 2.png


I have only been using for a few months and it is awesome! You log into your email account (or accounts like I have) and it scans them all for any email subscriptions you have signed up for.  It found over 100 in my inboxes! Some were things like Jeff Nelsen's Fearless Performance Newsletter which I am happy to be signed up for (and you should too!) Others were multiple lists that the Toyota dealership where we bought our minivan (yes, I am officially old) signed us up for without asking.  This service lets you deal with each one individually. gives you three options for each subscription: unsubscribe, add to roll up, keep in inbox.  Unsubscribe is one click! No more going to websites, finding where you have to click, entering the right information, etc. takes care of all of it.  I don't know how and I don't care but it's awesome.  Anything that is added to your "Roll Up" comes in one message that is sent once a day at a time you choose.  This means you still receive them but your phone or desktop is not dinging or vibrating all day long.  It has helped me to write, to practice, to be present as a father, all due to not diving for my phone every 10 minutes due to an email alert.  And you can always choose to have any important subscriptions go right to your inbox as they always have.  This thing is magic! 


Audible has been enormously helpful to me.  Now that I am chasing an eight-month-old around the house I don't ever have time to sit and read a book.  But with Audible, I am able to listen to all kinds of books and am actually consuming more of them than I did before I became a new dad!

In the past year I have listened to countless great books relating somehow to my approach to my profession: The Talent Code, Mindset, Never Eat Alone, Outliers, Blue Ocean Strategy, and many more.  I doubt I would have gotten through a single one of those books with my current schedule if they weren't audio books.


Mailbox is an app available for both iPhone and Android phones as well as a brand new version for the Mac.  It enables you to get to "inbox zero", which is something I thought made no sense until I got there myself and felt a weight lift off of my shoulders.  By simply swiping, you can "snooze" an email by having it come back to you on a specific date at a specific time when you will be able to deal with it.  You can also easily separate your emails into lists.  I know it doesn't sound all that impressive but the ease of use and how organized it can make you are worth checking it out.


Insight Timer

I finally stumbled upon the benefits of meditation once I hit my mid-30's.  What a difference even five minutes of simply sitting quietly can make on my playing, my teaching and my life in general! This app keeps track of your stats of how many days in a row you have meditated and how long your sessions have been which has been a great motivator for me.

If you've never tried meditating before, it is hard! A healthy brain is an active brain and it can be hard to shut it off.  One nice thing about this app is that there are guided meditations, some as short as five minutes long, that have a narrator help you along.  If you have any problems with performance anxiety I can not recommend meditation any more highly.  It has been incredibly helpful to me in all aspects of my life.

Setting Goals

Andrew Hitz

As with any pursuit, one of the most beneficial things a musician can do is to set goals. All musicians, regardless of their ability level, must constantly be evaluating themselves as players. The setting of goals is how even the very best of the best in the music business seem to be improving all the time at their craft.

The first week of my freshman year at Northwestern University our teacher, Rex Martin, made the entire studio write down our goals on a piece of paper. He had us separate them into three categories: short term, medium term, and long term. He told us that the more specific we were with what we wanted to accomplish, the easier it would be to formulate a plan to achieve those goals.

He encouraged us to redo this exercise every year for two reasons. First, we could check back on our previous list of goals to see if not only we achieved them but if it happened on the schedule we had laid out. Second, we could add new goals to our list as our abilities and desires within music changed.

Here is a breakdown of the three categories:

Short Term Goals:

These should be things that you can accomplish within days, weeks, or a few months. Examples could be memorizing an etude, recording a video of yourself and posting it on YouTube, or learning harmonic minor scales in thirds.

Medium Term Goals:

These should be goals that might take you anywhere from 6 months to a few years. If you are an undergraduate this might include which graduate school you want to attend. It also could be starting your own blog or website, playing in a summer festival, or increasing the speed of your double tonguing by 20 bpm.

Long Term Goals:

These should be things that you would hope to accomplish in three or more years. These could include being a tenured professor of tuba at Northwestern (the one goal Mr. Martin told us we weren’t allowed to have because he didn’t want us taking his job!), playing trumpet in the Boston Symphony, or taking my gig in Boston Brass. You should think really big for the long term goals because you will only ever achieve what you set out to achieve!

Everyone knows that making goals is important in every aspect of life. But if you can quantify those goals you will find an enormous benefit down the road. I encourage my students to set up a Google document detailing their goals that they can add to every year at the beginning of school. This is a great way to keep track of their progress and can be accessed from anywhere.


Organization=Productivity and Productivity=Eventual Success