How the Things You Think about Backstage Could Affect Your Emotional Experience on Stage

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes If you’ve ever recorded yourself performing (and listened back) you’ve probably noticed how in many cases, your performance sounds a whole lot better than it felt like things were going in the moment. And that’s certainly helpful to know - but it’d be nice if our experience in the moment wasn’t quite so crummy, no? Unfortunately, those days when we’re having a really positive experience onstage seem to happen so randomly… Is there anything we…


A Mental Time Travel Technique That Could Reduce Anxiety and Enhance Performance

A Mental Time Travel Technique That Could Reduce Anxiety and Enhance Performance

Subscribe to the weekly “audio edition” via iTunes Every kid has probably had that moment on the playground, where they imagine hitting a home run to win the World Series, making a shot at the buzzer to win the NBA Finals, or throwing the game-winning touchdown in overtime to win the Super Bowl. These types of fantasies seem to be a pretty natural part of being a kid, but you’ve probably heard many athletes, coaches, and sport psychologists swear by this sort of thing too.  Of…


How to Keep Bad Dreams From Freaking You Out in the Days Before a Big Performance

How to Keep Bad Dreams From Freaking You Out in the Days Before a Big Performance

If you’re a fan of the show Friends, you may remember the episode where Phoebe is mad at Ross, and nobody - including Phoebe - knows exactly why (click here for a short video of the key scenes). And when they finally figure out a strategy to find out why she’s mad, it turns out that she was mad because Ross said she was boring - as they were playing chess on a frozen lake, right before he took off his energy mask, revealing that he was actually Cameron Diaz. Needless to say, this is…


How Do Fear, Anxiety, and Other Negative Emotions Affect the Learning Process?

How Do Fear, Anxiety, and Other Negative Emotions Affect the Learning Process?

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes I once read a story about the violinist Isaac Stern, in which he was confronted by a fan backstage after a concert. Gushing at how beautifully he played, she exclaimed “I’d give my life to play like you!” To which Stern curtly replied, “Lady, that I did!” Studying music - especially in the context of summer festivals and school - can of course be an incredibly positive experience with many meaningful, inspiring, and fun moments. But there can…


Quirky Pre-Performance Rituals: Do They Really Work?

Quirky Pre-Performance Rituals: Do They Really Work?

Subscribe to the weekly "audio edition" via iTunes A student recently told me of an old Italian tradition among singers, where some would not go on stage to perform until they found a bent nail backstage. Even Pavarotti is said to have engaged in this ritual. Other musicians like Led Zeppelin, John Legend, and Beyoncé have described their own quirky pre-show rituals. And many athletes are known for their unusual game-day or pre-shot rituals as well. Most of the pre-performance rituals that…