I love meeting performers, students, and teachers, and I especially enjoy working with them on topics of peak performance and anxiety management. I have the most fun working in an interactive setting with performers and teachers who are active and engaged participants, but I also enjoy giving more formal lecture presentations.
My group classes incorporate such topics as mental skills training, mindfulness, contemplative practices, creative visualization and imagery, cognitive restructuring, flow states of consciousness, and the pedagogy of optimal performance. These can be designed for groups of performers, including students, amateurs, and professionals, or they can be geared towards the teachers of these performers.
What follows are some examples of classes I have offered in the past, to give you an idea of my areas of focus. Topics which work better in a one-on-one setting include personal consultations, hypnotherapy for performance confidence and/or anxiety management, and personalized mental skills training programs; these are listed at the end.
Performance Anxiety Management
This workshop introduces a variety of techniques which help musicians, actors, and public speakers cope with stage fright. The effects of the body’s acute stress response are examined in detail, with several hands-on exercises which work for students as well as professional performers. This session is a good introduction to the causes of performance anxiety and the most effective solutions for long-term anxiety management. A related workshop, Performance Anxiety Workshop for Educators, includes effective solutions for anxiety management in the teaching studio or classroom.
Mental Skills for Performance Anxiety Management and
Sport Psychology Principles for Musicians
These workshops focus on cultivating the mental skills necessary for performance anxiety management and optimal performance. We will examine the research and practice of the best sport psychologists, and learn to apply mental skills used by successful Olympic athletes. When these sessions are adapted for teachers, I emphasize ways in which instructors may adapt their pedagogy to include specific mental skills activities and assignments.
Mindfulness Practices for Performers
Psychologists have recently suggested that mindfulness practice holds tremendous promise for musicians with performance anxiety. Research suggests that both cognitive-behavioral interventions and practices such as mindfulness meditation have similar goals and effects on anxiety sufferers, such as the focus of attention and direction of consciousness. Learn a variety of mindfulness techniques which work particularly well for performing artists. Related workshop: Mindfulness for Academic Anxiety, designed for high school and college-aged students struggling with test anxiety.
Performance Psychology (You Are What You Think)
Human beings have the most powerful brains on the planet. We are the only animals on earth who can evaluate and change our own thinking. How we talk to ourselves and how we think about music both have a profound impact on our ability to perform effectively. This workshop introduces performing artists to practical applications of cognitive restructuring and sport psychology. With these simple concepts, the mind can adjust to a new reality of thinking and performing.
Consciousness and Artistic Performance
During those magical moments of “flow” onstage, we feel connected to our art, our audience, and ourselves. But how can we consciously get there? Research into the field of cognitive psychology can help us learn to control our own levels of consciousness. Performers and teachers can safely and effectively apply concepts of cognitive behavioral therapy, learned optimism, and advanced techniques for imagery and self-hypnosis.
Creative Imagery for Peak Performance
Studies prove that the brain and nervous system cannot distinguish between an event that was keenly imagined and one that actually occurred. This session incorporates a variety of guided imagery exercises which can help bring out the best performances in musicians of all ages.
Stress Management for Performers
What do bounced checks, road rage, and recitals have in common? They are but a few of life’s many intense stressors! Learn to dramatically reduce the effects of tension and anxiety in your life through breathing exercises, autogenic relaxation techniques, and biofeedback. While the emphasis of this session is on enhancing artistic performance and decreasing stress, these techniques will work in almost any stressful situation.
Mental Wellness and the Whole Performer
The psychological health of creative artists is crucial to their success and wellbeing, and attention to mental wellness is essential to a performer’s quality of life. Explore the most current research in the fields of sport psychology and contemplative studies, and learn practical holistic techniques to combat stress and anxiety, depression, and distraction on stage and off.
Mind Your Heart: Music and the Brain’s Emotional Response System
Like language, music is a human experience. It has become clear that how we experience the world emotionally has a profound effect on our physical and mental health. Recent studies in neuroscience and psychology suggest that emotions guide us in making decisions and that subjective feelings are absolutely necessary for rational behavior! Explore music’s ability to affect mood, arouse emotions, and intensify memories; and discover what it means to channel emotions for peak artistic performances.
Introduction to Mindfulness
This class is an introduction to basic contemplative practices, with or without specific applications for performers. I offer a broad perspective of mindfulness, extending these practices beyond seated meditation, and focus instead on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition of mindfulness as the gentle, deliberate focus of awareness, without judgment, on the thoughts and events of the present moment.
Beginning classes in secular vipassanā (“insight”) meditation, or group practice and guidance for experienced meditation students.
Stage Fright and Self-Esteem: Helping Students Conquer Their Gremlins
This session focuses on a few specific psychological aspects of performance anxiety, including issues of self-esteem, the “inner judges,” and other negative self-talk. Suggested activities will help students and performers of all ages overcome the fears that hold them back.
Performance Anxiety Management: The Teacher’s Role and
Pathways of Music and Emotion: Mental Health Principles for Music Teachers
These workshops introduce a variety of techniques to help music teachers assist their students in coping with stage fright. We will explore the emotional and psychological challenges of being a performing musician, and we will emphasize practical and ethical teaching techniques for instructors who are not licensed mental health professionals.
Contemplation and a New Teaching Paradigm
Informed and enlightened teaching requires a holistic approach to music education. Studies suggest that contemplative practices can facilitate more positive performance experiences, greater self-awareness, and improved anxiety management on stage and in the practice room. Join us as we investigate the true meaning of mindfulness and explore the emerging academic discipline of contemplative studies. We will emphasize the seven tenets of self-awareness, and discuss the ways in which these can be applied to music study and performance, as well as our own mental health.
Teacher Burnout: Renewing Body, Mind and Spirit
Learn the top reasons why music teachers burn out so easily, strategies for saying NO, criteria for good psychological health, and effective techniques for physical, mental, and emotional stress reduction.
Nailing Jell-O to a Tree: Centering the Distracted Musician
Instagram, Snapchat, iThings…. Today’s students are rewarded for their ability to juggle small bits of information quickly using very short spurts of attention. Music, of course, requires a completely different quality of attentional training. Techniques from sport psychologists and contemplative educators can help distracted musicians learn to cultivate and sustain their focus.
Music and the Brain: Applications of Neuroscience for the Innovative Teacher
How does the brain process music, and how do students learn, remember, and emotionally connect to their pieces? An understanding of current scientific research can help teachers learn to structure the lesson more effectively, offer better practice strategies, help students conquer frustrations, and pave the way for a more enlightened piano pedagogy of the future. Discover the latest research on the amazing human brain and explore practical tips for more effective teaching and performance anxiety management. (LCD projector preferred)
Mind Your Heart: Music and the Brain’s Emotional Response System
Like language, music is a human experience. It has become clear that how we experience the world emotionally has a profound effect on our physical and mental health. Recent studies in neuroscience and psychology suggest that emotions guide us in making decisions and that subjective feelings are absolutely necessary for rational behavior! Explore music’s ability to affect mood, arouse emotions, and intensify memories; and discover what it means to channel emotions for peak musical performances.
Blurring the Boundaries of East and West: Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Education and Spiritual Wellbeing
Modern strategies for dealing with stress include Western (secular) cognitive-behavioral interventions and the more spiritual (Eastern) practice of mindfulness meditation. Both emphasize reflection and examination of the self, and both can help create a sense of peace and wellbeing. For young people, the concept of “wellbeing” can be interpreted in a religious, spiritual, or secular manner, or a personal combination of these. This blurring of boundaries between sacred and secular has found its way into modern research, with studies that suggest various mindfulness practices combined with cognitive therapy hold tremendous promise for those suffering from stress.
Other past classes:
- Performance Coaching Masterclasses for Musicians
- Performance Coaching Masterclasses for Actors
- Collaborative Improvisation Masterclasses
- Music as Contemplative Experience
- Mindfulness in Context
- Anything else (Let me know. I love a challenge!)
Students, educators, and career performers can all benefit from private sessions with a performance coach. Coaching is most effectively done in person, but I am also happy to give private consultations via Skype or phone. Please contact me if you have any questions or specific needs related to successful performing.
Mental Skills Coaching
Performing artists greatly benefit from the same type of mental skills coaching that athletes have used for years. Since no two performers are alike, the most effective training programs are those which are tailored to the individual. These coaching sessions are geared for highly-motivated musicians and creative artists who are interested in developing a mental training plan for use in and out of the practice room.
These coaching sessions are conducted on stage or in a private performance setting, and combine artistic performance with discussion, hand-on application of mental skills, and creative experimentation.
Depending on the venue, I am often able to offer individual or group hypnotherapy sessions, which generally last from 40-60 minutes each. One-on-one sessions are specifically tailored to the needs of the individual, and are particularly helpful in treating various forms of anxiety (stage fright, public speaking, general anxieties, fears and phobias, etc.). Hypnosis may also be used for stress reduction, pain or grief management, or other personal goals.
Thanks so much to Dr. Jessica Johnson, Dr. Noa Kageyama, and Dr. Julie Nagel for their fine work on our panel discussion on mental health.
Click here to stream an archived version of the webinar, or you may download the handout of mental health resources below.