Performers, Today is a Gift!

Yesterday is history, tomorrow’s a mystery, and today’s a GIFT—that’s why we call it the PRESENT!

You, no doubt, have heard this saying.  With the holiday approaching, I thought that this quote was particularly appropriate.   It certainly does not have to be a holiday for this saying to have significance for performers.

How many times have you caught yourself worrying about performing as well as last time or living up to your own or others’ expectations of you and your performing?  Have you been in the middle of a performance and made a mistake, had a memory slip, or nearly missed an entrance and let it sabotage the rest of your performance?   Do you have a hard time sleeping the night before a competition or audition because you are worried about how it will go or whether you will be able to perform well if you can’t get to sleep.

If you’ve experienced any of these scenarios, you already know that focusing on the past or on the future is not time well spent.  As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for you?”

Focusing on and in the present moment truly is a gift—a gift that keeps on giving.  A present focus is sharper and more keen than any other.  It shows in your practice and also in your performing.  When you keep your mind in the present, your thoughts stay positive and on task. In practice, staying in the moment allows you to develop a more effective and lasting trust in your skills and abilities.   In performance, staying in the moment allows you to accept your performing in the moment, as you are singing or playing.  This attitude and performance skill of acceptance is certainly an important asset for performers.  When you time travel back to that last mistake or forward to that difficult passage coming up, you cannot be fully engaged in the present measure which is all you really have.

Stay with me here:  when you think about it, the past and future are just mental concepts.  They are not real.  The past is memory, while future is imagination.  The present moment, although fleeting, is the only moment over which we have any control.  Of course, it is totally up to you on which moment you choose to focus.

When you accept that your past is not necessarily your future, and that today—this moment—is a gift,  you take the first positive step in creating a better future for yourself and your performing!  Gandhi said,  “The future depends on what we do in the present.”

Decide to give yourself, your friends, your teachers, your castmates, your stand partner, your audiences the most valuable gift you can give—the present—your presence in this very special moment.  You won’t regret it.

Want to learn more about how to develop your own unique pre-performance routine and your most effective mindset?  Then, check out The Relaxed Musician:  Mental Preparation for Confident Performances, a 14-Day Plan   Download Day 1 of the workbook and audio to see how the program can work for you.  With purchase, you will receive 2 great bonuses—Your Pre-Performance Checklist and the e-book, Letting Go of the Need to be Perfect!

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  1. Dear Dr.Allan

    Your article is the best gift!
    When I am in a trouble with something(wrong thought) that makes me nervous, the best gift is your email that introduce a new article! I cannot tell that how much your article helps me. Thank you so much Dr. Allan.

    I have an exam and all the time I am thinking about the result of my performance, The problem is that this time i feel that I am not prepare enough for that exam but What does bother me that much is thinking about the future. It makes me nervous so I cannot concentrate on what I practice. So I will tell my_self :

    I must practice KNOW. I can practice more in the present moment, and I must stop thinking about unreal and destructive thought. It is a possibility that the result will be not good enough BUT I must use all of my potential and think positively to give my best. Stress and fear can reduce my ability know. So as you said present is a gift and I use it to the fullest to have a better future. It is logical !!

    Thanks for your help.

    • Dr. Diana Allan says:

      Dear Simin,

      Thank you for writing. I have been thinking of you. It is gratifying to hear that the things we discuss on the website and in the monthly emails is of some help to you.

      When we focus on results or performance outcomes it is easy to start doubting our preparation, our practice, and our skills. Nothing takes the place of great preparation, but making sure our focus is on what will helps us best, is the next best thing! It is very common for performers to keep their eyes and focus on the outcome of a performance or exam, but doing so certainly does not help us in any way. In fact, focusing on the outcome makes us much more nervous.

      Be sure to PRACTICE performing. That is, simulate the exam conditions as you prepare. Perform the same repertoire at the same time of day in front of those who may make you feel nervous as you will be feeling at the exam. Practicing performing will start to boost your confidence in a way that will help you trust your process so you can keep your focus on it!

      Keep me posted, Diana

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