Daring Greatly—The Vulnerable Performer

Vulnerable Singer

I recently watched Brené Brown’s 2012 TEDTalk called Listening to Shame.  I am one of 2,785,867 people who have viewed this video since.  I don’t know how many of those nearly three million viewers were performers so here I am passing this message on to you. Brown is a research professor who has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame.  She … [Read more...]

Performers, Today is a Gift!

images-2

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 … [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 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...]

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...]

Strategies for Becoming a Mentally Tough Performer

Itzhak Perlman

You, like many musicians, may have heard things like, “You gotta be tough!”  “You have to grow a thick skin!” or “Don’t wear your feelings on your sleeve!”    At the same time, performers are supposed to get their TOUGH selves onto the stage and become vulnerable artists in order to share their music with the audience.  Seems like a paradox?  Let’s see if we can figure this … [Read more...]

Resilience—Bouncing Back from Setbacks

joplin_tornado

Being back in Joplin, my hometown and site of the deadliest tornado in recent American memory that hit last May 22, 2011, is both heartbreaking and uplifting.  When we were in Joplin one year ago, only days after the EF-5 twister hit, it was a scene of devastation that one only sees in movies or in your worst nightmares. When in Joplin helping my family and when reading about the efforts to … [Read more...]

Knowing when you’ve practiced enough!

decide

Practicing is a way of life for musicians.  Not only are we expected to perform at consistently high levels, we are constantly learning new music, improving our skills, and reaching for new heights.  Let's face it, we want to play or sing well.  We want to make great music and we certainly want to avoid embarrassment, disappointing ourselves and others, and, of course, we want to avoid mistakes … [Read more...]

Mental Rehearsal Can Work For You, Pt. 2

visualization

Mental rehearsal, or vividly visualizing yourself practicing or performing difficult passages, preparing yourself to be confident, or reviewing a memorized section or a past performance are all effective supplements to the physical practice you or your students engage in prior to performance.   Some may also call this type of practice imagery.  Whatever you call it, vividly seeing, hearing, and … [Read more...]

Mental Rehearsal Can Work For You, Pt. 1

Mental Reh

When preparing for an upcoming performance performers work diligently by practicing and rehearsing.  As we've talked about before, musicians spend the majority of their time in the practice room or in rehearsal rather than on the stage and can be more readily characterized as practicers rather than performers. You would think that would make us experts at practicing.  However, many musicians … [Read more...]