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From Studio to Stage: psychology for performers

This course has no current classes. Please the waiting list.

Many of us play well when we practice yet worry, tremble, feel sick, make mistakes or just feel our performance is not “up to scratch” in recitals and exams. We are not alone. Chopin dreaded performing, Pablo Casals often threw up back stage and Barbara Streisand did not perform for twenty years after experiencing a memory lapse in a New York concert.

It is estimated that up to 70 percent of musicians believe their public performances are not at the same level as their studio practice. To play as well in public as we do in private, musicians need to be in peak condition, psychologically, physiologically and creatively. Sports psychology provides us with a wealth of applicable evidence-based strategies to decrease our performance anxiety and maximize performance quality.

The presenter’s doctoral research integrated sport psychology literature and current psychological treatments to develop simple but effective strategies to strengthen performance. These were trialed empirically with 80 musicians. Results showed that participants were empowered to more successively project their creative voice in the public arena.

This workshop, presented across two sessions, will provide participants with a series of easy to implement steps, both in practice sessions and in public performance.

Session 1: Practice and Preparation – Being a Musical Athlete

Applying strategies from sports psychology this session focuses on practice and preparation. Musicians will be shown how to develop optimum practice skills both in the practice studio, and in everyday life.

Included in the workshop will be:

*The “P” Bomb!

  • Playing fit, not flat (self care for musicians).
  • Goal setting and motivation.
  • Mental imagery.
  • Focus leads to flow.
  • Anxiety de-sensitizing.
  • Acclimatizing to the performance situation.

Session 2: Performance – "Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative"

Applying strategies from clinical psychology and the principles of cognitive behavior therapy this workshop focuses on performance. Neurobiological techniques will show musicians how to restructure the negative thoughts and feelings that so frequently sabotage their performance. Exposure hierarchies and subjective units of distress (SUDS) will be introduced to support musicians to develop an individualized plan to enhance performance and eliminate performance anxiety. Finally, participants will apply what they have learnt and perform for their peers in a relaxed and supportive environment.

This will be a collaborative workshop and participants are asked to prepare a short performance (maximum 2 minutes) to share with the group.

The presenter will utilize experience as a performer, teacher, examiner and clinical psychologist. Both workshops are experiential and participants are encouraged to be prepared to play a little (in first session), then play quite a bit more (in second session), take part in some “slightly” heart rate increasing physical activities and, play with some fun “stripy” straws! Strategies are applicable from the earliest beginner to the experienced performer. The workshop may be of particular interest to AMEB candidates, HSC and Tertiary students, their teachers and community music makers.