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The Mind Over Finger Podcast

Mar 6, 2020

In this episode, we discuss many important topics, including curiosity and exploration in practicing, the importance of maintaining a strong technical regimen, strategies to learn and handle a lot of repertoire in the context of an orchestra job, and tactics to foster focus in the practice room. 

Robert also elaborates on:

  • How his career evolved into what it is today
  • The different elements he got from his various teachers
  • The importance of being eager to acquire more knowledge
  • How books inspired his practice
  • The importance of varying what we practice, and intentionally keeping practicing feeling rewarding
  • Curiosity and thorough thinking as a strategy to foster focus in the practice room
  • Using a script in practice

Robert is an incredible musician, with great wisdom and I know you’ll find much inspiration in what he’s sharing with us today!



Robert Hanford is concertmaster of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. During the summer, he is a concertmaster and instructor at the Aspen Music Festival. Previously, Mr. Hanford was the Associate Principal Second Violinist of the Minnesota Orchestra, a member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and a member of Chicago's Grant Park Symphony. He has appeared as soloist on many occasions with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony and other Midwestern orchestras, including the Chicago Philharmonic. He has performed with numerous chamber ensembles, most recently as a member of the Rembrandt Chamber Players. For many summers, he was concertmaster and violin instructor at the Birch Creek Music Festival in Wisconsin and performed and taught at the MidAmerica Chamber Music Festival, the Milwaukee Chamber Music Festival and the Roycroft Chamber Music Festival.

In addition to his professional career as a violinist, Robert has studied and performed on the theremin, one of the first electronic instruments. Robert is also an amateur artist blacksmith, having attended courses of study in Wyoming and Illinois. Other interests include table tennis, juggling, unicycling, and high-voltage electronics.

Mr. Hanford lives in Evanston, Illinois, with his wife Sheila, also a violinist. They have three sons.



Don’t forget to visit the Mind Over Finger Resources’ page to check out amazing books recommended by my podcast guests, as well as my favorite websites, cds, the podcasts I like to listen to, and the practice and podcasting tools I use everyday!  Find it here:!


And join the Mind Over Finger Book Club in the Tribe!  We meet HERE!


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



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 my fantastic producer, Bella Kelly!