Psychology for my students # 27
Does a little voice inside your head ever say: "Unless it's perfect, it's nothing"? Or: "Unless I'm the best, I'm no-one"?
If so, where did the thought come from? Did someone say those things to you? Or is it just that our society is filled with such ideas and we pick them up, unawares, from the thought-cloud that we all live in?
A society filled with these thoughts would be excessively driven, have major issues with performance anxiety, many stress-related illnesses as well as deeply depressive thoughts such as "What's the point of it all?" "Who am I anyway?" "Stop the world! I want to get off!". It could feel endless. Hell.
Rather than thinking of, and scoring, musical performances on a linear scale of best or worst, perfect or nothing -with the non-rational undercurrent that it's a case of survive or perish, shouldn't we be focusing on music as a means for inclusion, communion, making whole, healing and being fully centred in this moment now?
Bring to mind anything that you enjoy, makes your life worth living and gives meaning and purpose to your existence: Such things engage us fully in seemingly timeless moments. We are at one with them. In tune. Heaven.
At these times, if you checked in to your body, you would notice that you were completely connected with your stomach. Warm. Secure. Enwrapped (enrapt).
Just so with satisfying musical performances.
And it's our stomachs which tell us how a performance is going -whether as performer or audience: Are we feeling comfortable and at one? Or uneasy and at odds? In which case (as the performer) we need to focus on recovery and re-connection.
So, rather than worrying about wrong notes, or how the adjudicator or audience is judging you, concentrate on connecting with the moment: Tune in to yourself, the audience and the music. Play the way that feels right now (not necessarily the way that felt right on the last occasion), aiming for warm, physical security and beautiful, musical sound.
And have you ever tried taking the opening thoughts to their logical conclusion: Only "perfect" performances (whatever they are) are acceptable? And only the "best" (whatever that means) person is fit to play? -Who would ever subscribe to such daft ideas?!