Photo credit unsplash-logoHello I'm Nik 🇬🇧
You know how it is, you meet new people and the question “What do you do?” gets asked.
Now I could answer that in a number of ways, “I read A LOT!”; “I walk in the park”; “I like to daydream”…
Yet I know that what they’re really asking me is “What do you do for a living?” On answering “I’m a Music Performance Mindset Coach”, I’m usually met with slight hesitation, then “Wow! That sounds really interesting. So…what is it you do, exactly?”
Understandable really, I guess. It’s not exactly an 'off the shelf' job title.
So…I thought I’d go into a little more detail about HOW I work.
A beautiful concert hall. A full house, all tickets sold out. A prestigious orchestra, all dressed in their formal finest. A virtuoso soloist, poised…
Or how about a packed stage, an excited crowd drunk on sunshine, sound check’s done, band’s on stage, the singer walks out to the mic at the front…
This could be any performer, in any venue, playing any style. The principles behind how I work are still the same.
Now, for the purposes of this explanation, I work with the soloist in our picture. Our performer could be concerned about a number of things and could therefore have 101 thoughts going through their mind:
“How will the audience respond?”
“What do the musicians behind me think of me?”
“I hope that section goes well.”
“I hope the set list is pitched right”
“I wished I hadn’t argued before leaving”
“Did I lock my car?”
“Why was the train delayed?”
“I hope… I should have… What if?… Why?...”
Let’s have a look at each of these things one at a time.
Let’s start with the audience. Can our performer affect their reaction in any way? No. Let’s remove them from our picture.
How about the musicians? Can our performer affect their opinion somehow? No. So let’s remove them as well.
What about the argument before they left home? In this very moment, can they do anything to change it? No.
Are you sensing a theme here yet?
When they strip back everything that they have no influence over, or they can’t affect in THAT MOMENT, what is our performer left with? Their thoughts, beliefs and emotions.
That’s where I come in. That’s where I can help.
I work with the MINDSET of each performer, whether they’re a soloist or not.
To adapt and paraphrase a passage from Captain Correlli’s Mandolin – Mindset itself is what is left over when everything else is stripped away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
(Well…it’s an art and a science, really. There’s nothing accidental about it, but it seemed sacrilegious to edit de Bernières too much. Want to read the beautiful passage I mentioned? Find it here).
When you remove the physical things that you CANNOT change and you’re just left with your thoughts about them, your beliefs about them and your feelings about them, you’re left with your MINDSET around them.
And THAT’S what I work with because those - the thoughts, beliefs and feelings - you CAN change.
It may be challenging, no-one said it would be easy. Having someone hold a mirror up to you and your beliefs can be incredibly uneasy. But on the other side?
On the other side of that lies beauty, freedom and peace…if you’re willing to work for it.
And that’s just for starters.
How do you find your thoughts affect you onstage? Can you switch off completely? What are your thoughts around performance mindset? Please comment below. I’m interested to hear your thoughts.