“Quiet Eye”: A Technique to Enhance Performance When You’re Nervous

Whether it’s sight-reading a tricky piece in rehearsal, playing our least comfortable excerpt in a big audition, or doing a run-through for a colleague whose opinion we respect, most of us are more likely to rush than to drag when the going gets tough. And sometimes, we rush before we even play a note. We walk hurriedly onto the stage, tune quickly, and start to play before we’ve taken a moment to get our thoughts in order.

None of which makes logical sense. I mean, why would we make things harder for ourselves at the worst possible time by depriving ourselves of the time we need?

Of course, it’s not just musicians who tend to rush when anxiety kicks in. Athletes and surgeons (for instance) are prone to this as well. Yet somehow, the very best performers never seem rushed, and always seem to find ways to slow things down and perform at a high level.

How exactly do they do this?

Prone to Procrastinating? Why the Way You Set Deadlines Could Make Things Worse, Not Better.

Prone to Procrastinating? Why the Way You Set Deadlines Could Make Things Worse, Not Better.

When it comes to being productive and getting work done, do you like to set deadlines? Or are you more the kind of person that just goes with the flow?

I have a kid who seems to be allergic to calendars, and philosophically opposed to setting times for when to do things. He explains that putting things on the calendar doesn’t work, and he responds better if he just does things on his own internal calendar.

Which of course makes me nervous. I mean, if things aren’t written down on the calendar, will anything ever get done?

I tend to write everything down. From what to buy at the grocery store, to how many socks to pack on a trip, to what books I want to read and Netflix shows I want to see, to when the dog should be given his heartworm medicine, it all gets written down on the calendar or a todo list, with dates and reminders and priority flags and everything.

But in all fairness to the kid, I have to confess that most of the items on my todo list don’t actually get done on the schedule I set for myself (if at all!). And I still totally procrastinate on things.

Which is to say…could the kid be onto something? Could deadlines make us even more prone to procrastinating? 

Is it possible that his seemingly loosey-goosey approach is actually more effective and less self-delusional? 🙄

Having a Bad Practice Day? Turn It Into a Good One With This 3-Step Self-Coaching Technique.

Having a Bad Practice Day? Turn It Into a Good One With This 3-Step Self-Coaching Technique.

As a kid, I remember enjoying lessons much more than I enjoyed practicing. After all, practicing was always a little unpredictable. I never knew if it was going to be one of those “good” practice days where I improved and sounded better – or one of those “bad” days where I got stuck on a plateau.

But in lessons, my teacher would always seem to be able to coax a higher level of playing out of me, and I’d usually leave lessons feeling much more encouraged and optimistic about my playing.

At the time, it seemed like one of those undefinable qualities that made teachers teachers, and students students. But I knew better, as I had a teacher who told me from an early age that her goal was to help me learn how to teach myself. And that this was something she fully expected me to get better at doing from week to week, as I continued my violin studies.

But how exactly are we to do this?