Practicing for Peak Performance

Music Department Practice Rooms 2

In How to Face Your Fear and Perform! we talked about getting in touch with the reasons why you perform, the importance of preparing well and learning to trust your preparation, and the importance of learning the other mental skills it takes to perform without fear. I don't know about you, but I find that when the word "practice" is brought up many people have adverse reactions.  These … [Read more...]

How to Face Your Fear and PERFORM!

hornist

Musicians often live (and perform) in constant awareness of how they are being perceived by peers, teachers, audiences, and judging panels.  Let's face it, our whole society is built on getting ahead, striving to succeed, and BEING THE BEST!  There is nothing wrong with the striving thing.  It is a good thing to want to be your very best.  Where this kind of focus derails your performing is … [Read more...]

Perform with Confidence!

Lang-Lang

Oh, ok!  Did you know that your confidence IS up to you and nobody else.  The number one mistake many musicians make with confidence is that they do not take full responsibility for their confidence on performance, competition, or audition day. Take a moment to think about it. . .  Do you have to wait until you warm up to see if it is going to be a good day?  Do you have to wait until you … [Read more...]

What if anxiety or ‘nerves’ is NOT the problem?

Mind's Eye

Q: How do I not let my nerves get to me? If I feel nervous, I don’t think I can perform well and if I don't feel nervous, then I think my performance would go as I practice, but it doesn’t.  What can I do? A: This is an interesting question that came in as a result of our survey on the use of mental skills.  If you haven't taken the survey and would like to, it will only take a few … [Read more...]

10 Mantras for Fearless Performing

Nervous_on_Stage

In a recent session I conducted with performers on what they wanted out of their performances, I found that many of the performers in the group were big believers in the Perfectionists' Creed: Perfectionists' Creed: "If I try hard enough and I am very careful and I follow all of the rules, everything will go right and everyone  will love me and I will feel good all of the time." In my best Dr. … [Read more...]

Lies of Perfectionism, Part 2

itzhak-perlman-cropped

In Lies of Perfectionism, Part 1 we examined several misconceptions perfectionists have and the stories perfectionists keep telling themselves.  If you feel like what you accomplish is never going to be good enough, or you often procrastinate engaging in important tasks like practicing or preparing for events, or you feel you must impress others or you set standards that are impossible to … [Read more...]

Lies of Perfectionism, Part 1

black-swan-poster

Many of you may have seen the recent psychological thriller, The Black Swan.  In this fictional portrayal of perfectionism, Nina, a promising ballerina, pushes herself beyond the bounds of her mental and physical health to be perfect.  It is very tiring, discouraging, and often destructive to continually attempt to impress others, avoid making mistakes, and perform perfectly all the time.   … [Read more...]

Trust and Play

playground

As youngsters we are in the habit of being creatively engaged.   This is the experience of play.  Dr. Stuart Brown, the author of Play:  How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, explains that “when we play, we are open to possibility and the sparks of new insight and thought.” This sounds very much like the definition of mindfulness.  Leading expert on … [Read more...]

I’m Practicing, So What’s Missing?

practice-piano

Musicians and performers, in general, spend hours, months, and years of their lives diligently working on technique and skills that are necessary for success in performance.   We spend much more of our time practicing than we ever will performing on stage.   Because of this we get really good at practicing—monitoring ourselves for correctness, at self-coaching, and at analyzing cause and … [Read more...]

Your Chatter Matters!

selfTalk_illustration

Words can be wonderful things.  Think of Shakespeare, Goethe, Whitman, the Beatles, Tori Amos, Lady Gaga, and YOU.  Words help us express ourselves and communicate with each other.  The words we use influence the way we think about ourselves and tell others a lot about us .   The words we use most often and the mental pictures we create can also be damaging to us and negatively impact our … [Read more...]