I have been a performer since about the age of 14 when I first entered a music competition and experienced the excitement and terror of standing in front of an audience and sharing my music. For more than 30 years this has been my office; a place I feel comfortable and at home in. This familiarity is the product of thousands of performances in a myriad of settings all across the globe. From a tiny theatre in rural Scotland seating no more than 50 to a televised Charity Concert in a Mumbai arena playing to millions and all points in between. There have been phenomenal highs and debilitating lows along the way.
Being a performer is not something we are born to do, although there is frequently a fearlessness in the very young that belies this statement. As a teacher I have come to explore the Art of Performance and Performance Practice and understand that it is often neglected in most learning settings. In recent years my teaching practice has brought me into contact with students who were showing signs of acute performance anxiety. Young musicians who love playing their instrument but who dread standing up and performing in front of an audience. Adults who work in the Performing Arts and never suffer from stage-fright but who get nervous performing music as a hobby. More and more young people in particular seem to be struggling to balance the demands on them; school-work, exams, peer pressure etc. and turn to music as an escape or a way of blending into the background. We all have a different motivation for taking up a musical instrument and perhaps do not have a goal in mind but it seems such a shame to me that many teachers and performers do not take time to understand that learning mastery of an instrument and performing are not the same thing.
Having been introduced to the rudiments of mindfulness and meditation whilst working on a contemporary opera project I started my own research into different disciplines and teachings that tackle the psychology of performance. Contemporary Sports Psychology, Mindfulness and Martial Art techniques all advocate the practice of ‘centring’, ‘visualisation’ and ‘focus on the breath’. By blending the wisdom of these different art forms and reframing them in the sphere of musical performance practice, it is possible for me to help musicians build better systems for practice, performance and gaining control over the effects of overwhelm and anxiety.
To book a session to find out more or work on performance practice drop me a line
Here are some basic resources I recommend to anyone:
5-minute guided mindfulness TED talk (something you can do literally anywhere, anytime)
Mindfulness of Breath Meditation (longer guided meditation - audio only)
Musicality Podcast : Mindfulness and Musicians