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CONFIDENT MUSIC PERFORMANCE: Part 3 - Brain Power and How to Make it Work For You

Cracking the Code of Our Crazy Thoughts


As we stumble through this thing called life, it's crucial to unravel the mysteries of our thought patterns (and keep an eye out for any sneaky distortions). We all have that little voice in our heads that can go from cheerleader to critic in a nanosecond, especially in high-pressure situations. Let's dive into some common thinking habits that might be playing tricks on us and ways to outsmart them.


Thinking Habits That Hamper Our Performance

  • Filtering: Have you ever caught yourself focusing only on the negative aspects of a performance or rehearsal while overlooking the positives? Guilty as charged, right? You might replay every sour note in your head but conveniently forget the golden moments. Try not to use negative language like 'terrible' or 'awful' when evaluating yourself. Try recording your performances or rehearsals and revisit them later when you can be more objective. Also, consider whose feedback you value and take to heart.

  • Extreme Thinking: It's easy to fall into the trap of seeing things as either flawless or a complete fail. Maybe try thinking in percentages instead. For instance, “I nailed 95% of those notes” or “5% of the time I'm slacking, but the rest, I'm a powerhouse!"

  • Wild Assumptions: Jumping to grand conclusions based on a single mishap and expecting history to repeat itself. Remember, missing a note once doesn't mean you're doomed to miss it forever! Toss out words like "never," "always," and "everybody else." Opt for more bendy terms like "often" and "in some cases." It's all about finding that sweet spot in the middle.

  • Mind Reader Syndrome: Assuming we are mind-reading pros can dial up the unnecessary stress levels. If no one's throwing shade your way, maybe there's no shade to throw? When in doubt, just ask for feedback instead of conjuring up worst-case scenarios.

  • Disaster Fantasies: Always bracing for the worst-case scenario? Remember to challenge those doomsday fears and think realistically. Did that sniffle really morph into pneumonia? Probably not.

  • Me, Myself, and I: Taking everything personally and measuring ourselves against others can be a real energy drain. Keep in mind, people's reactions often have nothing to do with you. If someone's looking glum in the audience, they might just be having a rough day.

  • Control Freak Fantasies: Swinging between feeling like a helpless bystander of fate to believing you need to solve everyone else's problems. Remind yourself that you call the shots on your actions and reactions. You're in charge of you, not the entire world.

  • Fairness Fables: Sometimes expecting the same level of fairness in every situation can set us up for disappointment. For instance, assuming that if someone truly thought you were a wonderful vocalist, they'd automatically ask you to sing at their wedding or assuming you should get a solo because you are the most experienced performer in the room. Instead of fixating on what's "fair," it's best to lay your cards on the table and communicate openly about your desires. Life's not always a level playing field, so adjust those expectations accordingly.

  • Fallacy of Change: Thinking you can change others if you pressure them enough. For example, trying to make others change by blaming them, demanding things of them, or constantly arguing with them. Your happiness depends on you, not on changing others.

  • Feeling = Fact: Assuming that our emotions paint a true picture of reality. For instance, feeling like an incompetent failure just because you're having a clumsy or sluggish day.

  • Global Labelling: Slapping broad negative labels on people or situations based on a tiny snippet of info. For example, branding someone as a "bully" or "dumb" after a mere handful of encounters. Instead of jumping to conclusions, ask yourself if your label fits all the time, only in certain scenarios, or just in the heat of the moment.

  • Blame Game: Flipping between blaming ourselves to dumping responsibility on others for our mistakes and choices; e.g. blaming your teacher for not acing your audition. Own up to your choices and remember, blunders are part of the human experience, and learning to accept ourselves, faults and all, is key.

  • Mustered Should's: Feeling guilty for not meeting sky-high standards or being inflexible with expectations. Dropping 'should' and 'if' bombs left and right and setting up rigid rules for ourselves, like "I should never have made a silly mistake like that!" or "If only I had hit snooze one less time to warm up better." Stay flexible with your guidelines and values. Recognise that there are exceptions and unique circumstances to consider.

  • Being the Know-It-All: The constant need to always be right, even at the expense of relationships. Listening to others and entertaining different viewpoints is essential. Remember, most situations have multiple valid perspectives.

  • Heaven’s Payback Delusion: Believing that grinding non-stop guarantees a VIP ticket to success. If you're stuck in hustle mode without a breather, you're cruising for a burnout. Strike a balance between hard work and kicking back. Make sure to schedule time for relationships, recreation, and just live in the present moment.

How Our Mind Can Work for Us

Remember, these thoughts can sometimes lead us on a wild goose chase. By recognising distorted automatic thoughts, we can prevent them from taking over and guiding your actions. Acknowledge these thoughts instead of hiding them, then counter them with positive, proactive thoughts. Many top athletes attest to the power of mental preparation. In the showbiz world, we ought to tap into this tool more often. Visualising triumph can work wonders in dodging a failure.


Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

EFT is like a therapy sesh where you spill your guts and lace it with warm, fuzzy words. For instance, try, "Even though I trip up, I still love and respect myself." Voice these affirmations to combat self-sabotage. Program your mentality during preparation, and you'll find it responds more effectively under pressure. Learn to slow down internally and condition yourself to handle stress. Slow, deep breathing can help access coherent thought and make your brain work for you instead of against you. It might be a tough nut to crack if you're wired to be self-critical, but a healthy dose of self-love is the secret sauce for shining bright (and acing this game called life.)

Remember, you hold the power to shape your thoughts and reactions. Embrace these tricks to tap into your brain's superpowers and level up your performance.


TO BE CONTINUED... Part 4: Positive Strategies for Tackling Fear


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