Going on stage is an adventure. As my teacher Sarah reminded me last week, every time we tread the boards we are making ourselves vulnerable. Let’s see if you can relate to this: when you have to play for an audience, all your emotions show up to the party, including those who weren’t invited. You’re equally excited, nervous, anxious and looking forward, both before and during the concert. It often happens to me that I have thoughts like “Wow, that was beautiful, but this note was out of tune and I rushed in those triplets, but now comes my favourite part and I’m going to give it all.” Within this chaotic landscape, it’s hard to be in control of what thoughts are louder, isn’t it? I would certainly love to kick all the insecurities out of the equation, so I’ve been looking for ways that could help me with that.
It may sound very obvious, but something I'm realizing more and more these days is that the mindset means everything when I go on stage. The more I believe in all the hard work I’ve done, in the message I want to share, in how grateful I am for having opportunities to play for other people, that this is a life-long learning journey… the more I can beat all the negative thoughts that cross my mind. Therefore, why not remind myself of it every time I need it?
I’ve recently read The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green (which I can’t recommend enough) and it inspired me to write a decalogue that would boost my self-confidence and determination. Doing this has allowed me to organize my thoughts and choose what I want to tell myself before going on stage, but also when I have a hard day or I need a little reminder of how much I love doing music on top of anything. For those of you familiar with the book, I’m basically allowing my Self 2 to take control over my Self 1. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, here's how Barry Green defines these two concepts:
“Self 1 is our interference. It contains our concepts about how things should be, our judgements and associations. It is particularly fond of the words 'should' and 'shouldn’t', and often sees things in terms of what 'could have been'. Self 2 is the vast reservoir of potential within each one of us. It contains our natural talents and abilities, and is a virtually unlimited resource that we can tap and develop. Left to its own devices, it performs with gracefulness and ease.” (B. Green, 2015, p. 28)
If you relate to the way I feel, I’d like to encourage you to write your own decalogue. You can download mine for free (in English or Spanish) via the button below and use it as a reference to create yours. Remember that we are in a process of constant evolution, so you can always modify your decalogue according to what you need to remind yourself of lately or the kind of concert you’re playing. You can use it as a cover picture of your phone or tablet, print it and put it in your case, on your wall, in the stand next to your music when you perform… Use your imagination!
Here’s a sneak peak of the first point of my decalogue:
I play the violin for myself, not for anyone else. I can play the violin, I am in control of the sound that is going to come out from it the very first second my bow touches the strings. I am not scared of making mistakes and I have the tools to correct whatever does not go as I planned. I am going to learn from what does not work in this performance to make it better in the next one.
Do you want to know how it follows? Then click the button below to subscribe and get a free copy of my decalogue!
This decalogue is part of my ebook about artistic identity, which is already available in Kindle version: Find Your Artistic Identity - A guide to become the artist you want to be. If you like the decalogue, you can buy my ebook by clicking the button below.
What do you do to boost your confidence before going on stage or when you're feeling down? Let me know in the comments! You’re also very much welcome to share parts of your decalogue if you want to.
Green, B. (2015). The Inner Game of Music. London: Pan Books