Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fearless Performance

I went to a workshop called Fearless Performance. It was presented by Jeff Nelsen, horn professor for  Indiana University. He has played for several symphony orchestras, soloed with others, and was the horn player for the Canadian Brass.

(About this picture: Nelsen said it was not edited nor was the horn suspended. He actually tossed it in the air for the pic. He said the hardest thing was putting his hands down so the pic could be taken. I am curious how many "takes" it took to get this one.)

Obviously throughout his career he has had to audition for many positions. He admitted that he had auditioned for many positions that he didn't get in addition to the ones he was successful with.

Before every one of these performance opportunities he would get nervous to the point of anxiety.  This prompted him to look into the concept of performance anxiety...or stage fright.

He mentioned that the only difference between how you play backstage and playing on stage is that you had to walk onstage thereby crossing the magical line between practice and performance.

Here are some notes from the Fearless Performance workshop
  • Sometimes the chains that prevent us from being free are more mental than physical.
  • You cannot control perception. You can only control presentation. (Meaning you can't control what the audience is going to think. They will think it anyways. But you can control what they hear.)
  • Fearless performance occurs when you make what you are doing - in that moment in time - the only thing that matters.
  • Performing music is a FANTASTIC laboratory.
  • Through studying performance in music we can get great at life!
  • 3 Keys: Love well, Learn, and Let Go
  • Have patience with all things, but first of all, with yourself.
  • You and only you are responsible for every decision and choice you make, period.
  • Know 1) Where we are; 2) Where we want to be; and 3) How we are going to close the gap.
  • Build: Diligence (care); Intelligence (know); Management (balance); and Courage (act)
  • Share: Perform (perform); Perform (perform); Perform (perform); Perform (perform)
  • Create Inspirational sheets to encourage you when your courage starts to falter.
  • No one can make me feel anything without my consent.
  • The difference between Practice and Performance. In Practice there is a past and you can go back and fix it. In performance it is all now, Now, NOw, NOW! No going back.
  • Growth is dependent on Success-Based Practice
  • Don't troubleshoot - solution find.
  • Know why you're practicing.
  • Set Goals
  • Ask yourself, how was it better?
  • You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way.
  • Practice performance opportunities.
  • Say something positive 100% of the time. "I played _______________ well."
  • Strive for: Mastery, Meaning, and Autonomy
  • Every note is going toward something or going away from something.
  • Mark your music - "More destructive than clutter on the page is clutter in your mind."  The marks are there to help you. You should not be struggling to remember what you were to remember just because you don't want to mark your music.

Finally, Fearless Performance is the choice that there are things more important than fear.

I'm glad I went to the workshop. It did give me some things to think about and apply to my own teaching and performance.  Many things I have been doing but Nelsen just put it into a format that is easily understandable.

Please forgive this note-based blog post. Posting my notes will make them readily available wherever I might be as well as maybe inspire some reader.

Aside: About Jeff Nelsen. His presentation style is rather frenetic. He reminds me of Robin Williams. Constantly following the thought in his head regardless of whether it is on topic or tangential. This is not meant as a criticism more an observation. His presentation was organized and well-planned - it just came off this way to me.  It is all about performance, after all, isn't it?

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