Can’t Stop Worrying About an Upcoming Performance? Here’s Why Practicing More Might Not Be the Answer.

Can’t Stop Worrying About an Upcoming Performance? Here’s Why Practicing More Might Not Be the Answer.

I was watching blogger Tim Urban’s TED talk about procrastination with my kids this morning, and we all laughed at the part where he described the panic monster, because I think we’ve all experienced the elevated level of stress and anxiety that kicks in as a deadline approaches.

I don’t know what it is, but there’s something that happens, perhaps no matter how well prepared we are, where about a week or two out from a performance or audition, there’s an increase in these nagging, repetitive, negative thoughts as the impending moment of truth draws nearer.

Like an escalating series of “what if’s.” And a regret-inducing avalanche of “should have’s.”

These difficult-to-shut-off repetitive negative thinking patterns, or rumination, is one of the hallmarks of depressive and anxiety disorders. But even if this doesn’t get to a clinically concerning level, it still makes for a lot of stress and anxiety during the countdown to an important audition or performance.

Which for me at least, would contribute to a sense of desperation or frantic-ness in my practice, which would often exacerbate an already crummy-feeling week. And not do a whole lot to make things better on stage.

So is there anything we can do to reduce this repetitive negative thinking phenomenon in the leadup to a performance? Other than ramping up our last-minute panic-practicing?

What’s the Best Type of Feedback to Provide, if the Goal Is to Increase Students’ Intrinsic Motivation?

What’s the Best Type of Feedback to Provide, if the Goal Is to Increase Students’ Intrinsic Motivation?

Getting myself to practice was always a challenge, for as long as I can remember. I mean, I always did get around to it eventually, because there were plenty of extrinsic motivators like lessons, rehearsals, performances, and competitions on the horizon that helped to spark some motivation.

But whenever I had a longer break between lessons, or if there weren’t any performance-like events on the calendar, finding the motivation to practice was a lot tougher. And I often went through many periods of time in which I didn’t feel a ton of intrinsic motivation to practice my scales, etudes, and work through the repertoire on my list.

Extrinsic motivation isn’t all bad, of course. So it’s not like we need to get by on intrinsic motivation alone – but it’s nice when we can rely on both, and not extrinsic motivation alone. Because the research suggests that there are some pretty meaningful side benefits of being more intrinsically motivated. Like increased levels of effort and persistence, and a tendency to experience less anxiety in performance.

So…how can we increase intrinsic motivation? Especially in our students, who might be more accustomed to relying on extrinsic motivators to keep themselves going?

Lori Schiff: On Adapting to Remote Instruction, and Learning to Teach Alexander Technique Online

Having to suddenly transition to teaching online in March 2020 was quite a challenge for many (if not all!) of us. It’s looking like we may be able to return to live instruction soon, but this seemed like a good time to reflect on what we’ve learned, and how we’ve grown in the months since.

To that end, here’s Alexander Technique teacher Lori Schiff’s story of how she went from believing that Zoom was not a viable medium for teaching Alexander Technique, to finding ways to adapt and grow as a teacher, discovering that she could indeed make online Alexander Technique lessons a meaningful experience for students.