What Is Your Performance Anxiety Trying to Tell You?

Different Mindsets

Does your heart race or do your hands shake prior to an important performance?  Do you get into your head and wonder what the audience or judging panel is going to think of your performance?  Do you feel so nervous that your head is full of chatter that distracts you from focusing on or enjoying your performance?  Do you feel confident and perform well in rehearsal and recital, but auditions … [Read more...]

Release Yourself from Perfection’s Grip

barbrareleaseme

Did you see the recent Associated Press article about Barbra Streisand's new album, Release Me?   It seems that during the heyday of her recording career, if she made a mistake or found a single problem while recording a song, she'd toss the whole thing.  Because of this perfectionism, she ended up with a whole case full of unreleased material.   "If I didn't like that one word, I wouldn't … [Read more...]

What About Your Inner Game? (corrected)

musician's brain

As a musician you have spent, and may continue to spend, a great deal of time improving your technique and preparing to perform.  There are countless nuances in your technique that you count on to reliably work well for you when you perform.  We might (actually Barry Green with Timothy Gallwey of The Inner Game of Music fame might) call this your outer game.   This outer game is what we … [Read more...]

The Audition Illusion

illusion

What are illusions?  Illusions are tricks our eyes and minds play on us.  They trick us into perceiving something different from what actually exists.  What we see often does not correspond with reality.   The funny thing about optical illusions is that what we perceive seems very real until we view it in another light! Look at the black and white picture to the right.  What do you see?  … [Read more...]

What Motivates You—Being Good or Getting Better?

Same Old thinking

Has anyone ever told you to "lighten up" or "go easier on yourself"?  Have you every asked yourself why it seems so difficult to stick to your goals, especially when the going gets tough?  When people tell you "it's about the journey, not the destination" and "enjoy the process," do you wonder, "how in the world am I supposed to do this?"? The way you answer the question, "What motivates … [Read more...]

Don’t Believe Everything You Think!

violinist2

Most performers have had a big audition, that important performance, or the competition that they've worked six months to prepare for, raise their anxiety level.   This anxiety level can be manifest in one of several ways:  in your body (somatically), in your mind (cognitively), and ultimately, in your performances. Somatic or bodily symptoms of music performance anxiety are a result of the … [Read more...]

Past Performances—Check Them or Carry-On?

pile_of_bags

If you have read or heard of the 2008 New York Times bestseller, My Stroke of Insight, you know Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s story—a Harvard brain scientist experiencing her own stroke and then, living to tell about it.  Yes, she survived, but the left side of her brain did not.  That meant that all her language, scientific training, and memories of her past life were gone.  After a period of … [Read more...]

Freedom From Performance Anxiety

Black Door

When was the last time you felt anxious about an upcoming concert or audition? When was the last time you backed down from a challenge? Most performers have experienced these butterflies or anxiety prior to performance. This is not always a bad thing, but sometimes these feelings cause performers to pull back and can point to a common fear for performers—the fear of the unknown. The nature of … [Read more...]

The ABCs of Self-Talk for Musicians

Image credit:  z_i_b_i

As we discussed last time in Self-Talk—Friend or Foe?, chatter constantly runs through our heads as automatic thoughts, or as conscious thinking playing inner critic or inner coach to bolster our performing confidence. Greek philosopher, Epictetus said:  “We are not disturbed by things, but by the views which we take of them.”  Let’s really look at this statement.  What if this is … [Read more...]

Your Self-Talk—Friend or Foe?

Silhouette Self-Talk

Everyone has an inner dialogue of little voices—that steady stream of on-going thoughts and images—that constantly goes through their minds on and off the stage.  This dialogue can be your most reliable and best encouragement or can be your worst criticism. If you have been watching the Olympics, you have witnessed one incredible example after another of performers whose self-talk works … [Read more...]