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The Bulletproof Musician podcast

The Bulletproof Musician

Ever wonder why you can practice for hours, sound great in the practice room, and still be frustratingly hit or miss on stage? Join performance psychologist and Juilliard alumnus/faculty Noa Kageyama, and explore research-based “practice hacks” for beating anxiety, practicing more effectively, and playing up to your full abilities when it matters most.

Ever wonder why you can practice for hours, sound great in the practice room, and still be frustratingly hit or miss on stage? Join performance psychologist and Juilliard alumnus/faculty Noa Kageyama, and explore research-based “practice hacks” for beating anxiety, practicing more effectively, and playing up to your full abilities when it matters most.

 

#252

Why Telling Yourself to “Calm Down” Backstage May Be Counterproductive

Most people intuitively assume that the best way to address performance anxiety is to calm down, but research suggests that this may actually result in worse performances (?!). A 2013 paper describes three studies in different performance domains that give us a counterintuitive - and more effective - way to respond to performance anxiety. <a href= "https://bulletproofmusician.com/what-leads-to-better-performances-telling-yourself-to-calm-down-or-get-excited"> Why Telling Yourself to “Calm Down” Backstage May Be Counterproductive</a> ==== Wouldn't it be nice to beat performance anxiety and enjoy playing more confidently on stage in 2023? Performing optimally under pressure isn’t about jumping from latest shiny practice hack to the next, no matter how much research supports the use of each one, and as tempting as that can be. It’s important to have an integrated system of tools that work together. For instance, it helps to be able to practice effectively. But it’s also important to practice not just for accuracy, but for flexibility so as to be prepared for the unpredictability of performance. And aside from making sure the physical skills are there, it’s also helpful to have tools that enable us to get into a more optimal mental state right before we begin playing - so that our thoughts aren’t racing, our mind isn’t blanking out, and we’re not worrying about all the worst things that could happen. And once we begin playing, it helps to have strategies for staying focused throughout the performance. So our mind doesn’t wander off and leave us hanging in the middle of a phrase, when we suddenly come to and realize we don’t know where we are. Or so we don’t suddenly start overthinking our fingering, or have one of those out-of-body moments where we see our hands jumping across the keyboard and wonder how our hands are doing that all by themselves. What I find really cool about tthe practice and performance strategies that research has revealed over the last few decades, is that they don’t just lead to more consistently high-level performances, but they result in more engaging practice sessions too. Because many of these strategies, even if they initially came from sports, actually contribute to becoming better musicians too. You’ll probably find yourself doing more listening and score study,  thinking more about the composers’ intentions, and your own musical intentions, and whether these intentions are coming across to the listener. It’s all part of the puzzle, so if nerves have been a lifelong challenge, the good news is that you probably already have many of the tools. There are probably still a few things remaining to add to the mix, but learning how everything fits together, and how to approach the work that happens before the performance, and having concrete strategies for what to do backstage, what to do on-stage, and what to do afterwards, can make a real difference. I’ve put everything you need to know about this into an online 6-part course called Beyond Practicing. You’ll learn about effective practice of course, but then we’ll go beyond that into building confidence, beating anxiety, getting into the zone, becoming fearless on stage, and building resilience. There are weekly practice plans to guide your practice, with worksheets and cheat sheets to help you put each new skill into action. There are even live add-ons, like quarterly cohort-based bootcamps, if you enjoy working alongside other musicians and learners like yourself. But starting December 1st, for 4 days only, when you enroll in the course, you’ll get a second account for free, that you can gift to a practice buddy, relative, student, teacher, or anyone else that you’d like to go through the course with, or share the experience with. Like going to the gym or on a run with a friend, it can make for a funner and richer experience. So if you’ve been thinking about signing up, now would be as good a time as any! You can learn more about the course and the 2-for-1 offer at <a href= "https://bulletproofmusician.com/beyondpracticing">bulletproofmusician.com/beyondpracticing</a> ... Read more

27 Nov 2022

11 MINS

11:42

27 Nov 2022


#251

Why Trying to "Think Positive" All the Time Could Make You Feel Worse

We are often encouraged to maintain a positive mental attitude. And there are tons of books and blog posts devoted to explaining how important this is as well. But sometimes it can be exhausting to keep it up! So how important is it really, to maintain a positivity 24/7? Or could there be some hidden downsides? A 2018 study provides some counterintuitive findings, related not just to overall mental health and well-being, but performance as well. ... Read more

13 Nov 2022

09 MINS

09:07

13 Nov 2022


#250

Kim Laskowski: On Developing a Beautiful Expressive Sound and Teaching Yourself How to Learn

Kim Laskowski has been the associate principal bassoonist of the NY Philharmonic since 2003, winning her position at age 48 - without a prior symphonic background. She shares her story in this episode, as well as tons of insights on practice and preparation, from how to listen, how to do repetitions in your practice without going on autopilot, and more. <a href= "https://bulletproofmusician.com/kim-laskowski-on-developing-a-beautiful-expressive-sound-and-teaching-yourself-how-to-learn"> Kim Laskowski: On Developing a Beautiful Expressive Sound and Teaching Yourself How to Learn</a> ... Read more

06 Nov 2022

45 MINS

45:36

06 Nov 2022


#249

How Important is Listening to Recordings, Really?

You've probably had teachers who encouraged you to listen to recordings, and one of the Suzuki method's core elements is the importance of listening to recordings. But does this actually help learning? Or is it just one of those things that we do because it sounds like the right thing to do, and we've always done it that way? A 2012 study provides some answers - and additional insights on different types of listening: passive listening and distracted listening. <a href= "https://bulletproofmusician.com/a-simple-way-to-keep-music-in-your-fingers-when-practicing-more-isnt-an-option"> How Important is Listening to Recordings, Really?</a> ... Read more

30 Oct 2022

08 MINS

08:04

30 Oct 2022


#248

The Practice Strategy That Could “Bulletproof” Your Memory Under PressureThe Practice Strategy That ...

Stress and nerves have a tendency to disrupt our memory, but a 2016 study suggests that this isn't inevitable. And that if we integrate a particular kind of practice into the learning and memorization process, we can make our memory more "bulletproof" under pressure. <a href= "https://bulletproofmusician.com/stress-impairs-memory-but-heres-a-way-to-make-your-memory-more-anxiety-proof"> The Practice Strategy That Could “Bulletproof” Your Memory Under Pressure</a> ... Read more

23 Oct 2022

09 MINS

09:08

23 Oct 2022


#247

A Better Way to Do Mental Practice

Most musicians (and athletes) have heard of mental practice, and have probably been encouraged to do it. But have you ever been taught *how* to do mental practice? Most research centers on whether mental practice works, or what type is best, but today's study looks at a strategy for learning how to do mental practice. And it describes a technique for how to get better at mental practice - and see changes in performance - even if you've never been very good at imagery in the past. <a href= "https://bulletproofmusician.com/get-good-mental-imagery-even-youve-never-able-visualize-worth-darn"> A Better Way to Do Mental Practice</a> ... Read more

16 Oct 2022

10 MINS

10:11

16 Oct 2022


#246

The Problem With Time and Repetition-Based Practice Goals (And What to Do Instead)

As common as it is to create practice goals centered around time or repetition (e.g. practice scales for 10 minutes every day), a 2012 study suggests that there could be a better way to set practice goals, that could lead to significantly greater improvements in the same amount of practice time. <a href= "https://bulletproofmusician.com/which-promotes-more-productive-practice-practicing-for-time-or-for-a-set-number-of-repetitions"> The Problem With Time and Repetition-Based Practice Goals (And What to Do Instead)</a> ... Read more

09 Oct 2022

07 MINS

07:48

09 Oct 2022


#245

When is the Optimal Time to Start Doing Performance Practice?

We all know how valuable practice performances and mock auditions can be - but I think it's probably human nature to wait until everything is "ready" before we start recording and playing for others. Of course, how far in advance of an audition or performance should we be playing for others? Is it important that we wait until things are pretty close to being performance-ready? Or should we be aiming to play for others much sooner than we might otherwise assume? <a href= "https://bulletproofmusician.com/helpful-harmful-perform-piece-performance-ready"> When is the Optimal Time to Start Doing Performance Practice?</a> ... Read more

02 Oct 2022

10 MINS

10:24

02 Oct 2022


#244

What Is More Effective for Learning - Praise or Criticism?

Ever wonder what role praise and criticism plays in learning? Like, is there an optimal ratio of positive to negative that seems to work best? A 1976 analysis of legendary basketball coach John Wooden's coaching provides some surprising insights into what might actually work best. <a href= "https://bulletproofmusician.com/what-is-more-effective-praise-or-criticism"> What Is More Effective for Learning - Praise or Criticism?</a> Also, if you've been wanting to feel more comfortable performing, but aren't sure how to go about it, you might be interested in the live online 4-week class starting in October. Get all the details here: <a href= "https://members.bulletproofmusician.com/edu/performance-psychology-essentials-for-learners/?icn=ppe4l&icm=&ics=podcast"> Performance Psych Essentials (for Musicians)</a> ... Read more

25 Sep 2022

10 MINS

10:11

25 Sep 2022


#243

Is It Possible to Increase Your “Immunity” to Nerves? The Research Suggests Yes - And Here’s How to ...

Ever wish there were a way to be less affected by nerves under pressure. Like, if there could be a flu shot equivalent for nerves to help "inoculate" you to pressure? Researchers have wondered this as well, and a pair of studies suggest that we totally can! <a href= "https://bulletproofmusician.com/research-suggests-that-you-can-learn-to-perform-well-even-when-youre-nervous-heres-how"> Is It Possible to Increase Your “Immunity” to Nerves? The Research Suggests Yes - And Here’s How to Do It.</a> ... Read more

18 Sep 2022

06 MINS

06:57

18 Sep 2022


#242

Wish You Could Memorize Better? Why a Little Bit of "Verbalization" Might Be the Missing Ingredient....

Fear of memory slips is a common issue for many musicians. But I don't know that many of us have ever been taught specifically how to memorize either... Turns out there's a relatively simple strategy we can use to significantly improve how much of the new music we're learning "sticks" in our memory. <a href= "https://bulletproofmusician.com/wish-you-were-a-better-memorizer-why-a-little-bit-of-verbalization-might-be-the-missing-ingredient/"> Wish You Could Memorize Better? Why a Little Bit of "Verbalization" Might Be the Missing Ingredient.</a> ... Read more

11 Sep 2022

07 MINS

07:06

11 Sep 2022


#241

David Juncos & Elvire de Paiva e Pona: On ACT and a New Approach to Overcoming Performance Anxiety

Eliminating nerves, or staying positive and turning your inner critic into an optimist can be difficult, frustrating, and exhausting. But what if we didn't have to? What if there were another way, another path to performing optimally where we didn't have to fight our nerves quite so much? Today's guests share insights into a relatively new approach to managing nerves and performance stress that is gaining increasing interest in both sport and music circles - ACT. <a href= "https://bulletproofmusician.com/david-juncos-elvire-de-paiva-e-pona-on-act-and-a-new-approach-to-overcoming-performance-anxiety"> David Juncos & Elvire de Paiva e Pona: On ACT and a New Approach to Overcoming Performance Anxiety</a> ... Read more

04 Sep 2022

51 MINS

51:14

04 Sep 2022