Powerful Questions to Ask about Your Performing

Have you had a problem performing well when you are under pressure at competitions or at auditions? Have you been so anxious before or even during a performance that it adversely affected your performing? Has your critical voice ever overpowered you with doubts and anxious thoughts?  Have you ever been so concerned with what others think about your performing that you felt unable to perform confidently?

If you have experienced any of these issues, you are like many performers.  What if these issues or problems weren’t really problems at all?  What if these problems are really questions—questions about yourself and your performing that need answers.

Many performers who experience or identify an issue or a problem, just hang onto it.   Hanging onto your problem means you carry it around with you.  You name it or label it.  You let it label you. You can even start getting comfortable with it.  You show it to your friends and talk about it with them.   If you just hang onto your problems and talk about them, then nothing will change. You’ll just have to live with it!  Nothing will change until you get an answer and you can’t get the answer until you discover what question your problem is prompting you to ask.

Let’s take Ron, for example, who auditioned last week for a prestigious summer program. He’s quick to tell you that he just doesn’t audition well, but he did his best to prepare. When he got to the audition, lots of other performers were already there. This immediately caused his heart to start racing. As he looked around for the practice rooms, a few doubtful thoughts started popping into his head, “What am I doing here?” “I’m not as prepared as I should be.” “What if I don’t measure up?”

So what is Ron dealing with here?  First of all, auditions seem different to Ron.  He doesn’t seem to be able to bring his best playing to the audition hall.  He also tends to doubt his ability and preparation when he’s under pressure.  Whether you think these are problems or not, Ron sure does.  Ron thinks that auditions are different from other performance situations and his performing shows this.  When he sees or hears other performers, he often gets tense and anxious and the doubts and fearful thoughts begin to fly.  What are the questions that Ron’s issues are prompting him to ask?

Problem 1:  Viewing Auditions as “Special” or “More Difficult” Performances:
Are auditions really different from other performances?   If so, how?
What thoughts go through my head when I’m preparing for an audition? 
Are these helpful thoughts?  If not, what thoughts do I need to be thinking?
How could self-talk help my preparation for and performance at auditions?
How could visualization or mental rehearsal help my preparation for and performance at auditions?
Problem 2:  Lack of Trust in Self, Abilities, and Preparation:
Do I practice and prepare enough?
If so, am I using the best practice strategies to prepare?
If so, what is causing me to doubt the effort I am putting in and the strategies I am using?
When I am preparing for an audition or when I arrive at one, what triggers my doubtful thinking?
How can I combat each of these triggers to keep my focus on trusting myself and my preparation?

When Ron turns his problems with auditions into questions that need answering, it causes him to examine what he is doing and to take action.  He needs to keep asking the questions—keep seeking answers.   When Ron finds answers to these questions, he will feel empowered and he’ll probably feel that his problems have lessened in intensity.   Asking relevant questions, allows you to solve your problems because you are focused on finding the answers—your solution.

Think about an issue or problem you have been experiencing.  If you have trouble discovering the questions your problem is prompting you to ask and answer, here’s a way to jump-start the process:

Step 1:
Describe the problem: define it in 2 sentences or less. (Make it crystal clear so anyone can understand it.)

Step 2:
Problem-Solving Questions: (Write these down—answering these in your head can keep you going around in circles.)
1. What can I learn from this?
2. What is great about this? (Answer can’t be “Nothing!”)
3. What’s not excellent yet?
4. What am I willing to do to change and make it the way I want it?
5. What am I willing NOT to do to change and make it the way I want it?
6. How can I enjoy the process?
Step 3:
Provide at least three solutions:
1.  What resources (effort, time, strategies, plans) will be required to implement this?
2.  What are three intelligent, viable solutions you believe will solve this?
You need three choices because one choice is no choice and two choices is a dilemma. Until you have three choices, you really don’t have a choice.

Many performers focus 95% of their time on their problems and 5% of the time on finding a solution.   Turn that around. Take the amount of time you would usually spend talking about your problem, what caused it, how bad it is, how bad it makes you feel, and spend that time on finding your solution.

What does the future hold for you and your performing? What problems or challenges are preventing you for performing your best when it really counts? What questions do you need the answers to in order to make changes that will enable you to perform better and enjoy the process more?

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 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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