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...]

Focus for Peak Performing

focus time zones

In the recent post, Focus On What YOU Can Control, we discussed the kind of focus many performers have that makes them fearful, anxious, and distracted by things that are outside of their control.   When you focus on what is within your control, you will feel more confident and calm and ready to face performance challenges with a clear and present focus. What kind of focus do you need to … [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...]

Mental Toughness in Performers

Fleming as Borgia

A powerful force in the life of your performing will be your level of mental toughness.  This toughness comes from responding to negative messages (thoughts & emotions) in an appropriate way.  Being a mentally tough performer means that under the pressure of competition you can maintain a present focus and continue to think constructively, non-defensively, positively, and realistically--and … [Read more...]

Focus On What YOU Can Control

Archer

If you are a performer who struggles with performance anxiety or you can't seem to perform as well as you practice, you may want to take a look at to what and where you are paying attention.  Most performers who are anxious or fearful are paying attention to things outside of their control.  The ability to concentrate in the present and to focus on the specific task at hand is extremely … [Read more...]