When you perform do you experience:
Lack of Concentration…
Does it throw off your whole show if something doesn’t go quite right?
When you get nervous do you speed up, get louder or boost your energy level too much?
Do you feel that when you are spontaneous you lose focus and control?
Dips in Confidence…
Do you wince at every mistake or make excuses and apologize for yourself onstage?
Do you have difficulty relating to people after you perform?
Do you feel like you aren’t yourself when you’re on stage?
Are you afraid that someone will figure out that you’re a fraud or not really a musician?
Reluctance When Relating to Your Audience…
Do you have a hard time looking at or talking to your audience?
Do you feel like you don’t have anything original or unique to say, or maybe that your music is too different and that people don’t really get it?
Do you feel like you have to do something flashy to get people’s attention? Like you need to reinvent your show every time you perform?
Lack of Satisfaction or Connection with Music…
Do you feel like you’ve lost touch with the music itself and why you play?
When you practice do you experience:
Lack of Focus…
Do you feel like you can’t focus? Like you don’t know what to do? Aimlessly wander from subject to subject? Can’t settle in or get into the vibe?
Difficulty Relating Practicing with Performing…
Do you feel like what you are practicing isn’t related to what you are performing? Like you just rehearse songs to memorize them? Avoid practice/rehearsal because you don’t want your material to become stale? Feel like practicing is pointless because you really need an audience to really work on what you are doing?
Do you get tense and frustrated? Feel guilty because you don’t practice enough or do something else while you practice, like watch TV or text? Make yourself play something several times in a row with out any mistakes before you can move on? Feel like you’re not a “real musician”?
All of these scenarios were easy for me to list. I just listed the sticky situations I’ve come across as a singer/songwriter, guitarist and bandleader. It’s tough work. When I play a show I want to be prepared but not stiff, comfortable but not lazy, spontaneous but not flakey. In a rehearsal or practice session I want to be focused and not rigid, loose and not mindless, goal oriented and not trapped. I guess I want it all. Like you, I chose to do something that takes a tremendous amount of time and energy, even though there is a good chance that I won’t get fully paid for that effort, all because I just love music. I love it whether I should or not.
Most of the time I just want to get closer to the music. To get that feeling that I’m a part of it, that there’s nothing separating me from what I’m doing; riding the music. Nothing is more disappointing for me than feeling like I’m only on the surface, not being able to access the music as an experience.
I found that practicing the elements of music (technique, fingering, tempo, theory, etc.) didn’t really address the psychological situation of performing or the actual physiological experience of playing. Practices seemed like work and performances sometimes seemed like a crapshoot. I wanted a way to work with my body and my state of mind, to stay loose and focused and to come back to that when I got distracted, discouraged or just downright freaked out.
Along the way I began practicing meditation and developed a way to combine mindfulness and awareness from meditation into music practice and performance. This site is an exploration of that topic and an offering to see if this helps others, too. This site and practice are not about practicing meditation while listening to music.
Get more information about classes, private courses and workshops here.
Please check out the articles, exercises, practices and discussions. Try them on for size and if you feel inspired, please leave a comment as to what you experienced. I would very much like to hear your story…