Justine Playing

What my clients say…

After a few in-depth conversations it became clear that this was someone with not only a vast knowledge of music and the different career paths that are associated with it, but also of the wide range of issues involved with the occupation of being a professional in this field.

We both approached this in a very collegial way, and a mutual sense of respect – I was not sure what this would be like, but was totally open to trying things out, expressing certain fears, issues I was facing – to give just two examples, I was very overworked and found it hard to focus or enjoy music sometimes…another example, I was often in the position of having to lead groups and my natural soft spoken-ness and sensitivity of character made it a challenge for me. Now I realise those two things can also be used to my benefit!

Justine is a fantastic listener, and her experience in so many different fields of music – solo, chamber, orchestral, leading, teaching – have given her access to a veritable mine of ideas and methods to deal with so many things. I guess, at the end of the day, she gave me invaluable and extremely creative tips how to deal with myself. We are, oftentimes, our own greatest enemies!

Particularly helpful was her idea of how to get out of our heads (we are often very analytical and this may cause us to stiffen up) by raising a huge sense of physical awareness – concentrating on breathing, a sense of ‘centre’, etc. This, when practised as dutifully as string players practise their scales – eventually supports our bodies and minds as a whole, and not as two separate entities.

Furthermore, she taught me how to develop inner confidence, and to use my natural qualities instead of criticising them, to extend myself as a person and musician. 

This is a lady of integrity, of experience, and with an open, creative mind that will be able to work with all types of musicians – should they also be open to share their experiences freely and openly.

Tim Sutton - Trombonist, Auckland, NEW ZEALAND

Principal Bass Trombone, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

Justine is a trustworthy, confidential, patient and caring person. Her kind, nurturing nature and respectful communication skills lend perfectly to supporting high level performers to achieve confidence and freedom from performance stresses.

When Justine launched ListenFeelPlay it felt like she was speaking directly to me and that she had the answers to my lost freedom of music making without self-imposed judgment and stress. 

In our sessions together I’ve been made to feel instantly at ease and supported to be able to share personal feelings around a craft that is very much a part of who I am. She understands my performance issues and challenges at a deep level having worked to such a high level herself in many different professional settings.

Not only has she provided me with some techniques to use when I’m feeling pressured but in the bigger picture some skills to find that simplicity and joy of playing a musical instrument like when you first started.

The idea of a music performance coach is long overdue. I love knowing that I can call on Justine for a quick pep talk if needed, she has always checked in on my progress and ListenFeelPlay is there to encourage, guide and support my musical life.

Megan Molina - Violinist, Wellington, NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Justine has a confidence and calmness about her that makes you feel at ease. No question I had was silly and no problem too small. The ultimate goal is to ensure your music making is as enjoyable as possible and her approach makes you feel empowered to take that control of your musicianship.

Following 8 years as a full-time violinist in the NZSO, as well as a busy family life raising two small rambunctious boys, all whilst rehabilitating for that last 2 years from a non-music related wrist injury, I was struggling with my focus as work. My confidence was also waning and I was losing touch with my enthusiasm and enjoyment for playing.

Justine sensitively helped me to discover what was causing my lack of focus, then skillfully supported me to regain control and reconnect with my love of playing and performing.

I learnt how to consciously build my confidence, as well as trust myself and my creative ability.

Discovering my centre created a wonderful new feeling of space within my playing. I now consistently find comfort within cramped orchestra quarters and am able to support myself to feel all the space I need to perform at my best.

My quality of listening also evolved – much more attentive to character, tone, timbre, articulation and colour. As a result, I’m thrilled to be achieving so much closer to my expressive potential.

I have rediscovered enjoyment in both my practicing and performing and I am now able to consciously focus my attention where it really counts.

My sessions with Justine have been invaluable for me and my career as a violinist. Approaching music from the standpoint of curiosity and creativity, playing the violin is now so much more than just a ‘day job’!

Thank you Justine!

Malcolm Struthers - Wellington, NEW ZEALAND

Double Bassist, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

In a few short sessions Justine transformed my outlook and approach to playing in an orchestra. Her insightful and practical coaching gave me new ideas and tools for extending and self-managing my playing, both physically and mentally.

It’s been two years now since Justine worked with me. I find I am continuing to gain new insights through applying the ideas and techniques I learned with her. I am more assured, resilient, and a great deal happier as a player than I was back then.

As musicians, I think we all need some fresh input from time to time. Justine has real integrity both professionally and personally, so her ideas and techniques come from true understanding and experience.

I heartily recommend Justine to any player who is looking for a way to be refreshed, inspired, more productive and happier in their work.

Dr. Robin Wilson - Violinist and Pedagogue, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

Resident Violin Faculty, Australian National Music Academy (ANAM)

My sessions with Justine were incredibly helpful.

As a performer and a teacher, I am always searching for ways of tackling issues that commonly arise in my own playing, as well as my students. Justine’s method really increases one’s awareness of use and gives extremely effective and easy to implement methods of releasing tension and enhancing performance.

Her approach is supportive and encouraging and facilitates the performers ability to focus and realise their musical intentions without inhibition. The simple concepts and techniques that she teaches can even be used whilst performing on stage, to increase ease, comfort and ultimately confidence.

I highly recommend this to anyone wishing to improve their own performance or that of their students, and enhance their enjoyment of music making.

Dickson Fung - Medical Doctor and Violinist, Auckland, NEW ZEALAND

I have no hesitation in giving my full endorsement to Justine as an exceptional teacher, coach and performer.

I was fortunate to study violin with Justine for over 8 years, including during my undergraduate performance degree. Her holistic teaching methods helped me connect the physical, intellectual and emotional domains vital to successful creative thinking, skills which I continue to use in my musical and medical practice daily.

Additionally, I am constantly inspired by her drive to further her own creative musical discovery as a world class violinist. Her skills and experience would no doubt be of benefit to the development of any aspiring creative performer or artist.

My goal is to inspire and support you towards healthier and happier creative performance, fully unleashing your natural creativity and confidence – and LOVING it!

Silver linings the second time around

Having performed the complete cycle of Beethoven’s violin sonatas in February 2020 with American pianist Kate Boyd, we had originally planned to perform the cycle again later that year. But of course, COVID had other plans for us and the soonest that we could rearrange for our second cycle was for 10-17 January 2023 – almost 3 years later. With the first of these concerts now just a day away, I’ve been reflecting on the new opportunities that presented themselves because of the enforced ‘change of plans’, and the silver linings have been numerous and rather wonderful.

Building Confidence

Radio New Zealang Concert asked me for advice around confidence, and in particular if it can be built.

I believe it can.

You can read what I had to say about it all on their website: Confidence Tricks – some tips for musical performance.

Effort, Age and Survival  

It is over a month since my last blog post and with the 6 weeks that have passed, we are well and truly in mid-summer here in Central Otago.

I have been systematically working through the 10 Beethoven violin sonatas, regularly inspired by the awesome landscapes outside my window, and accompanied by my trusty sidekick – Coco the cat.

It turns out one of the biggest current challenges is physical fatigue.

A reset from the inside out

Having previously performed 6 of the 10 Beethoven violin sonatas more than 20 years ago, it has been a lovely process coming back to the familiar, as well as discovering the new. Primarily due to the work I have been doing over the last 2 years getting to the nitty-gritty of my performance philosophies, these incredibly pristine works of Beethoven are proving to be an absolute gift for me.

Where to from here?

The next three months are super exciting for me, with 3 concerts confirmed in Mid-Feb 2020 for the performance of all 10 Beethoven sonatas within three days…and all in my new gorgeous neighbourhood of Central Otago.

It’s quite possible that I am naïve to the full enormity of this project – but one thing is for sure, sinking my teeth into these works again is a true treat, and the magnitude of the project is just what I am now needing at this point in my life.

Mountains and overcoming self-consciousness

I love mountains - always have, always will. Having recently moved to live amongst the Southern Alps of New Zealand, I am lucky enough to interact daily with these magnificent mountains. I am acutely aware of the support and inspiration they give me as a creative...

Acknowledging the positive

Beware of your greatest strengths! Shakespeare is quoted as saying “your greatest strength begets your greatest weakness”.   As performers, one of our most valuable strengths is our skill in self-critiquing. We are highly trained in the ability to judge and...

Discovering whole-body awareness

Reflections from a piano classInvited to explore ListenFeelPlay philosophies in an Auckland University piano class, four talented young pianists and I experimented together, witnessing and demonstrating, on the spot, the power and relevance of whole-body...

Be true to your own creative voice

One of the lessons I have learnt over and over again through my career has been the importance of honouring your own voice, your own perspective and your own self-expression. In order to do this, you must pay close attention to your creative intuition, and have the...

Taking ownership of your confidence

I used to think of confidence as something you either have or you don’t have, but in fact confidence is something you 'do', or more to the point often ‘don’t do’…to varying degrees. Let me explain. It was somewhat of a lightbulb moment for me when I realised that...