Friday, April 06, 2018

Positive Practice

Turns out I'll be stationed in Naples, Italy!!! 

I couldn't be more excited. Part of the job will be to play in the touring quintet which will take me to all sorts of countries all over the world, including Africa!! I can't wait to see Paris, and the Swiss Alps and Rome and so much more!!!!

Back-tracking to the audition preparation, when preparing for the Air Force and Navy auditions, there was a lot more to my process than was listed in my last post. Here are some more details about that experience and what I learned from it all and how I played my inner game.

While recording I tried to separate the creative process from the critiquing process. This is a mental technique I learned about from books like The Inner Game of Music and Performance Success. The first book states that the critiquing and creating processes cannot happen simultaneously in the brain. So I began actively trying to separate those two processes.
So when I was "creating" I was ONLY focusing on producing the sound. When listening back on the recording, I was "critiquing" by isolating what I wanted to fix. I did not critique while playing.
I tried to keep my criticism constructive and focused on what I wanted to do better.  So instead of beating myself up because I played something wrongly, I would isolate what I didn't like and set positive goals for my next performance every time I listened to the recordings.

An example of a positive goal would be "sustain pianissimo" or "use harder articulation."

What I did not do; I did not hear a bad take and tell myself what an abject failure I was at life, which anyone can do for any reason, or dwell upon all of my life's short-comings. It took years to let myself practice positively but it's been worth it. It's also much more objective to say "I didn't like my pitch on that note" or "I didn't like that articulation" rather than turning into an unproductive session of self inflicted injury like the monks below.

Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem...

An unintentional side effect of positive practice was that I found myself performing with a type of determination that was fueled by all the goals I had set for myself while listening to my practice takes. This focused determination was the perfect antidote to stagefright, which used to be quite severe for me.
The type of mental direction created by aiming for positive goals gave me a sense of fearlessness that cut right through stage fright. It was a 180 degree game changer and all started with how I practiced on a psychological level. It's cliche to talk about the power of positivity but practicing positively instead of negatively gave me the mental fortitude to play excellently under pressure.

Check out my bio on the UT Austin alumi page. I'm famous now y'all!

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