Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stagefright Cures - reimaging the outcome

Dear Musicians,
It's not often that I post on science topics, but the mind-expanding ideas available at Ted Talks are too good to miss!

I think all musicians and artists can really benefit from combining ideas from other sciences and arts. Today I'm combining the idea of stagefright with the idea of using your neurotransmitters well.
Read on:

As music teachers and performers, we're often asked about dealing with stagefright.

One of the simplest methods of overcoming natural stagefright is by imaging a performance as a "happy" one, instead of one of "I'm being judged on my entire life and talent and I'm probably going to only display my weaknesses." If you image your performance as a chance to unite the emotions and optimism of every listener, and to fill the hall with light and love, your mission is less about being judged, and more about sharing the joy.

That's why in answering questions about stagefright, I always recommend the book The Performer Prepares by Caldwell, as he leads you to discover your own creative visualizations of an enriching and happy performance, and then to project them during that upcoming performance.

Well this topic is approached by people who are studying "Happiness design" and even human-brain-science and is aptly explained by Don Norman on a recent Ted Talks video.

Norman says that when you are fearful and anxious the brain focuses intensely,in order to accurately complete a project on time. But when you're happy and optimistic, you're very much more sensitive, creative and enchanted about the outcome, and you come up with new ways of creating solutions.
So as performers, I would think, we need just a little fear to keep us organized and on target, but we also need a whole lot MORE of the happiness dopamine chemicals to allow us to be open to change and to allow fresh creative bursts of insight.

This fine balance ties in very much with some of the issues that face orchestral musicians in a work environment that may make them fearful, that I discussed with Michael Goode on Fluteloops Radio Show.
What Goode and I spoke about has to do with allowing optimism and safety in creativity for performers, so that there is no antiquated system of domination (like cruel critical colleagues playing the one-up-manship game) over the creative spark that keeps us loving and giving onstage.

So do please go ahead and listen to the great ideas at Ted Talks, and feel free to generate your own, and use the comment button (below) to add your own insights.

Also, while I was there at I really enjoyed the optimism of the latest Al Gore climate change video as well.

I think that if we ever break free of the limitations that musicians have perhaps bought into through the old competition system, we could finally begin to help.
Musicians and artists could help by uniting the vision and emotions of the people who vote for changing our world.
By spreading our creativity and sense of unity, perhaps we could actually help the scientific community to integrate their discoveries into the present world. The audience just has to know to VOTE for it. :>)

Here's for optimism and happiness,
Jen :>)