LM001: William Westney

William Westney Interview, Lean Musician, Music, Mistakes, Practice, Performance

Today's guest is William Westney. William is a concert pianist, professor and artist-in-residence at Texas Tech University & the author of ‘The Perfect Wrong Note’ a book about – as the subtitle says – ‘rediscovering your musical self’. He’s a perfect guest for episode number one & of course that’s no accident.

During the episode we discuss his life’s work in education, as well as his deep exploration of practice & performance. At first glance, the concepts that William explores here are non-traditional, but as you will hear – they are from a tradition and musical wisdom that has been around for a long time.

What you will learn in this episode

  • Numerous principles and simple distinctions that will help enhance your practice
  • A deeper look at what is meant by the ‘mechanics’ of practice – or as William calls it – ‘neuro-muscular work’.
  • How to turn technical difficulties into pleasurable experiences and unlock their potential
  • The radical mindset shift that helps thinking about mistakes differently
  • How important it is to distinguish between practice and performance
  • Why we should think clearly and carefully about what are goals are in practice
  • How William thinks about performance & what ‘the zone’ is for him
  • How to turn nerves into valuable food for your performance
  • How the appropriate balance of risk & enjoyment actually encourages your brain to learn better


“[Mistakes] are not just about forgiving ourselves and saying ‘let me try that again’, it’s totally embracing the mistake and saying ‘what’s the information in that mistake?’”

“You have to make a thorough/physical commitment to every note”

(in thinking about how to practice) – “How can everything I do feel great?”

Links & items mentioned in this episode