If I had a penny for every time I heard someone complain that their performance was great in the rehearsal room, but then fell apart when they got on stage… It is usually uttered with an incredulous look that says ‘I don’t understand what went wrong!?’, but unfortunately, the answer is pretty simple!
So many people train the part of their brain responsible for playing their instrument, but forget to train the part that is controlling their performance. We assume that our fingers, lips, tongue or vocal chords won’t work with the speed and accuracy required unless we train intently, and yet we expect to handle the pressures and adversities of performance situations with little to no training at all. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if we were naturally equipped to handle the pressures of performance - but we aren’t! Let me explain…
This is what you want:
To be the best performer you can be; to confidently perform at your best every time. You want to reach the pinnacle of your field; to be successful - maybe even famous! Easy, right?!
It’s not hard to see that the constant exposure, pressure, vulnerability, judgement and comparisons experienced as an elite musician requires a mental strength, focus and dedication beyond the norm. But here’s the catch...
This is what your brain wants:
Safety, stability and social approval - three things that performance continuously challenges - because this is what's required for survival. After all, where would we be if we didn't worry about having a roof over our heads, enough food to eat and someone to mate with us? Life as a performer requires us to go against our every evolutionary desire: to be vulnerable, to accept instability and to risk rejection.
There is a huge gap between what your brain wants, and what you want!
We need to somehow bridge this gap but we aren’t naturally equipped to do this, so we need to learn the skills. Yet, so many performers try and go it alone, putting up with disappointing results, wondering why they haven’t ‘made it’, and assuming it is a sign of weakness if they need guidance on how to prepare themselves for something that challenges their evolutionary desires!
Ask any athlete if they would attempt something as challenging, nerve wrecking and belief crushing as the Olympics without the guidance of a sports psychologist: they don’t, and yet so many performing artists attempt their own Everest flying solo!
So what can you do?
There isn’t room in today’s society for the tortured artist. The industry is too cutthroat, competitive and demanding - we need to start looking after ourselves!
The good news is that when you learn to understand what your brain needs, you can learn to manage it to your advantage. When you master this skill, you can perform with positive excitement, without worry, anxiety, uncertainty or mental chatter. You can enjoy your career, and enjoy performing, as you always intended!
Doubting yourself, worrying about your performance, comparing yourself to others, and fearing failure will ultimately hold you back, but it doesn’t have to be this way! Performance coaching can help you to manage your thoughts, so you can have a career that is enjoyable and sustainable, as well as successful. It is useful for anyone who wants to be better tomorrow than they are today.
Take some baby steps…
• Try one of these books...
The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters
The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green
• Sign up for future blog posts and find out how you can help your performance instead of hindering it!
If you’d like to learn more you can sign up to receive blog posts direct to your email. Alternatively, please click the little ‘like’ symbol below. Or, if you're ready to tackle your inhibitions to performance head on, contact me to discuss your options and arrange an appointment.