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— a violinist, teacher, performance coach, writer, clinician, yogi, wife, mother, aspiring hiker, and personal growth junkie.

Mind Over Finger is my passion project: the place where I can nerd out about all things mindful, efficient, creative, and enjoyable. When I’m not performing, teaching, or practicing, I love to spend time with my family and see the world through my children’s eyes. Explore the site to read the blog, book a coaching call, and look at my upcoming performances.


In the meantime, I hope you’ll check out and subscribe to The Mind Over Finger Podcast, your resource for knowledge, insight, tips, tricks, and inspiration on how to practice mindfully, perform optimally, and build a fulfilling musical career.

Image by Weston MacKinnon


Dr. Renée-Paule Gauthier
Violinist & Educator

Renée-Paule Gauthier is a passionate performer, coach, and teacher whose career has taken her across the United States and Canada as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral leader. She performs in the second violin section of the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra, is a member of some of Chicago’s finest ensembles, including the Joffrey Ballet Orchestra, Elgin Symphony, and Chicago Philharmonic, and is a substitute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

A devoted educator, Dr. Gauthier is the String Area Coordinator, Co-director of the Chamber Music Program, and Violin Instructor at North Park University. Dr. Gauthier is also Concertmaster and faculty at the Birch Creek Performance Center, and is an occasional coach and clinician for the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, the University of Chicago, and several schools and organizations in the Chicago area. 

An accomplished concert artist, Dr. Gauthier was mentioned as one of the "best upcoming violinists of the new generation" in the book Violin Virtuosos, from Paganini to the 21st Century (Henry Roth). Dr. Gauthier has won awards in several competitions, including the exclusive three-year loan of the Taft Stradivari violin through the 2009 edition of the Canada Council for the Arts’ Musical Instrument Bank Competition. She made her Kennedy Center solo debut in April 2014.


Dr. Gauthier was Concertmaster of the New World Symphony; Assistant Concertmaster of the Calgary Philharmonic; a member of the first violin section of the National Arts Centre Orchestra; and is the Founding Artistic Director of the Rendez-vous Musical de Laterrière, a chamber music festival in the province of Québec.

Her dissertation, The Mind First and Foremost: An Exploration of Mindful Practice Techniques and Strategies for Violinists, explores how cutting-edge research on mindfulness and personal growth can help violinists in the practice room.


She blogs about creating a meaningful practice at her website, Mind Over Finger, hosts the Mind Over Finger Podcast, and travels throughout the United States giving masterclasses and clinics on the topics of mindful practice, audition preparation, and anxiety management.


Dr. Gauthier is a graduate of the University of Montreal, the Eastman School of Music, and Northwestern University. She performs on a modern violin by Canadian luthier Marcel Nadeau, and a 19th century Auguste Barbé bow.

Mind Over Finger
The Story

Mind Over Finger is my passion project.  It grew out of my desire to help my students develop the skills to practice more mindfully.

As we know, the biggest obstacle between a musician’s artistic vision and its ideal realization onstage is poor quality practice. (That is IF there is an artistic vision of course! But that is a discussion for another day…) When I started teaching at the college level a few years ago, I realized that, often, students play in a default mode: they move the bow on the strings for hours and call that practicing. They practice without enough intention and focused awareness. Unsurprisingly, this slows down the process and leads to performances that are not up to their potential.

To help these students raise their awareness and efficiency in the practice room, I developed a system combining a deliberate practice frame and three specific mindful mindsets (bare awareness, beginner’s mind, and self-compassion), and I have seen the quality of my students’ practice improve.

In my studio and my online presence, my goal is to invite young musicians to pause and reflect before jumping into mindless action while practicing - to work in a more deliberate, purposeful and effective way, and realize that they can enjoy the process by bringing creativity in their problem-solving approach.


The art of practicing is so often associated with grueling, painful, unpleasant work - a necessary evil to get from the starting point to the concert stage. It doesn’t have to be this way! By being intentional, fully aware, and by feeling free to get as creative as we want in our practice, we can make practice itself become one of the most rewarding and fun parts of being a musician. And when the practicing part is handled this way, the performing soars like never before!


With Mind Over Finger, I hope to create a community of people who are able to bring purpose, mindfulness, and (dare I say it?!) enjoyment in their practice and their performance. It is actually possible to get great results, progress rapidly, perform optimally, AND enjoy the process!

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