“There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.”
When I say to people that I love music I mean music rushes through me like a river re-soaks dry land. I can feel my legs, my stomach, my fingers, my throat and my thoughts get quiet. Ahh:) What a relief. But there were and sometimes still are instances when this isn’t the case. I don’t normally talk about it but 5 or more years ago I started to become deeply interested in performance anxiety, performance stress and any other type of jitters. At the time I found that most of the writing was and continues to be focused on athletes as opposed to artists. But as we all know artists have a historical and even mythological reputation for mistreating their performance nervousness. I wanted to know how other people negotiated the negative voices in their head with the desires in their heart…or their inner voice with their outer voice.
I was performing a fair amount and noticed that the transition from the role of mother/wife to the role of bandleader/performer/vocalist was…stressing me out. I wasn’t proud of it but that was the truth. I needed more time to let the responsibilities of one role go and changeover into the duties of another. There was almost a feeling of radio static that would build in my head before each show. “Would there be enough people in the audience for me to pay the band?”, “Did I make enough set lists?”, “Did I have enough music prepared?” and so on. Not to mention the more specific self critiques like “I sound too nasal there”, “I’m still messing up that one note” and “why did I pick this outfit?” Thankfully I had several decades of performance experience to keep me hoofin’ even when I felt shaky. But I wanted something more reliable, something that could make me feel more self assured.
Eventually my investigations lead me down a new path. A path that focused on enjoyment. Imagine that:) Through writing and my skills in awareness from the Alexander Technique I began to practice redirecting my attention to the pleasure of music as well as my performance strengths. This helped me to hear my inner voices (which included my inner critic but wasn’t limited to negative criticism) and the music without getting knocked over by what my inner critic had to say.
I speak to so many people (professional performers and non performers alike) who tell me that they can’t get out of their heads. I totally know what that feels like and yet personal experience and exploration has taught me that there are practices available to strengthen not only your outside voice but your inner voice as well. I believe we need both to feel the fullness of what music and art have to offer. Are you feeling any of this? I would love to talk with you. Leave a comment, send an email, "DM me" or even better schedule a lesson. 'Til soon:).