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The Mind Over Finger Podcast

Sep 7, 2018

In this episode, international violin soloist James Ehnes talks about what the essence of mindful instrumental practice is: having a clear goal, work efficiently, listen intently, and connect with others.

He elaborates on:

  • His artistic journey – growing up in Brandon Manitoba, the practicing habits he developed as a child that helped him succeed, and the mentors that helped shape his career

  • Practicing efficiently – how practicing should be goal oriented, how we should practice practicing, the importance of identifying and analyzing problems

  • Competitions – how they can be beneficial for one’s career

  • How we should have a performance mindset while practicing

  • Figuring out how to find balance in our life and career

  • His process to learn a work and to prepare for a performance

  • The importance of developing the skill to truly listen to ourselves objectively while we play

  • How music really addresses our humanity and brings us together




James’ discography:

His recording of the Aaron Jay Kernis Concerto

Beethoven Celebrations – Recital with Andrew Armstrong at Northwestern University on January 13, 2019

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens



James Ehnes has established himself as one of the foremost violinists of his generation. Gifted with a rare combination of stunning virtuosity, serene lyricism and an unfaltering musicality, Ehnes is a favourite guest of many of the world’s most respected conductors including Ashkenazy, Alsop, Sir Andrew Davis, Denève, Dutoit, Elder, Ivan Fischer, Gardner, Paavo Järvi, Noseda, Robertson and Runnicles. Ehnes’s long list of orchestras includes, amongst others, the Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, New York, London Symphony, Philharmonia, BBC Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, DSO Berlin and the NHK Symphony orchestras.

Ehnes has an extensive discography and has won many awards for his recordings including a Gramophone Award for his live recording of the Elgar Concerto with Sir Andrew Davis and the Philharmonia Orchestra. His recording of the Korngold, Barber and Walton violin concertos won a Grammy Award for ‘Best Instrumental Soloist Performance’ and a JUNO award for ‘Best Classical Album of the Year’. His recording of the Paganini Caprices earned him universal praise, with Diapason writing of the disc, “Ehnes confirms the predictions of Erick Friedman, eminent student of Heifetz: ‘there is only one like him born every hundred years’.” Ehnes’s recent recording of the Bartók Concerti was nominated for a Gramophone Award in the Concerto category. Recent releases include concertos by Britten, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Khachaturian and sonatas by Debussy, Elgar and Respighi, and his recording of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Andrew Manze will be released in October 2017 (Onyx Classics).

Ehnes began violin studies at the age of four, became a protégé of the noted Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin aged nine, made his orchestral debut with Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal aged 13 and graduated from The Juilliard School in 1997, winning the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and in 2010 was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada and the Artistic Director of the Seattle Chamber Music Society.

James Ehnes plays the "Marsick" Stradivarius of 1715. He currently lives in Bradenton, Florida with his family.



Most sincere thank you to composer Jim Stephenson who graciously provided the show’s musical theme!  Concerto #1 for Trumpet and Chamber Orchestra – Movement 2: Allegro con Brio, performed by Jeffrey Work, trumpet, and the Lake Forest Symphony, conducted by Jim Stephenson.

Also a huge thank you to producer, Bella Kelly!

If you enjoyed the show, please leave a review on iTunes!  I truly appreciate your support!

Visit the website and the facebook page for information about past and future podcasts, and for more resources on mindful practice.