A Performance Review Technique to Strategically Build Confidence (yet Avoid Devolving into a Cocky Bastard)
I grew up in a small town about 30-60 minutes away from the nearest metropolitan area, so most performances were followed by a long, quiet drive home with not much to think about other than the performance that just took place. This wasn’t such a drag after the occasional good performance, but it wasn’t so pleasant after mediocre to face palm-range performances (which was most of the time).
My parents would sometimes take me on drives in the countryside, with the intention of getting lost and finding their way back home. It always worked out fine with my dad at the wheel, but it seems that I did not inherit his good sense of direction, and given a choice, will tend to take the exit or fork in the road that takes me further away from home.
Let’s say you have to learn a few short pieces in the next 24 hours, and have 4 hours to practice. How would you approach this task? Would you just dive right in and spend all 4 hours reading through the parts and working out the details? Or would you hop on YouTube and spend 30-60 minutes listening to some recordings first before doing any work on your instrument?
As a young Suzuki kid, it was always the latter.
Whether it was studying for a biology test, writing a philosophy paper, or prepping for seating auditions, I was always that student who seemed to be cramming all my preparation into the last possible moment. Furiously scanning notes until the teacher said “put your books away.” Or pulling an all-nighter and typing madly until the deadline gave me no choice but to finish up whatever I had and click print.
The new year is typically a time for looking forward. For embarking on new paths, and creating new habits.
But in doing so, it’s easy to miss an essential step in the looking-forward process. That of looking backwards.
We know from our experience in the practice room, that repetition on autopilot isn’t particularly effective. That saying “I’ll get it next time” without reflecting on what just happened, and what we plan on doing differently next time, won’t lead to the results we’re looking for.