Have a Tendency to Play “Too Safe” Under Pressure? Here’s a Daily Habit That Could Help You Play More Fearlessly on Stage.

Have a Tendency to Play “Too Safe” Under Pressure? Here’s a Daily Habit That Could Help You Play More Fearlessly on Stage.

I was going through some old home videos the other day, and came across some clips of my kids jumping off of the diving board at the pool for the first time. Well, not jumping, so much as cautiously inching their way to the edge of the board in a half-crouch positions with legs shaking and eyes wide open, and going into a full crouch before tottering over the edge into the waiting arms of their swimming instructor.

Of course, as they grew older and more confident in their abilities, these careful, tentative “dives” were replaced with cannonballs, belly flops, and a whole new repertoire of skills.

The same sort of evolution happens in our playing too, as our confidence grows over the years. Culminating in “one-buttock playing,” as conductor Ben Zander says in his 2008 TED talk.

But there’s a tendency for us to regress on stage. To revert to a more careful and cautious version of ourselves, focused more on avoiding mistakes than playing freely.

Yet there are some folks who seem to retain their one-buttock playing abilities even on stage. Whose seeming fearlessness and risk-taking makes the performance all the more captivating, and a real thrill to experience.

How do they manage to do that? And how could we all become more fearless, one-buttock performers?