Fearless Performance by Jeff Nelsen

Have a Good Worst

Keep your standards high? Yes!

Focus on what TO do? Yes!

But I must admit that when I perform my best, a part of my focus is also on keeping

my worst playing as good as possible.

I spend some valuable focus-points on keeping a "good worst" in both my training

and my performances. Without doing so, my potential to do that all-too-familiar

downward spiral into yikes! is too high.  I'll never forget seeing a friend of

mine perform once and he encapsulated my feeling of those worsening worst experiences.

Really, it was a friend!  :)

In his concert, he was playing beautifully and then he slipped on a note aaaaand

then he freaked out a bit...and then...well...

Ok, this is what I remember.  Hearing the spiral happen was a bit like a happy scene

gone wrong from the 1985 cinematic masterpiece "Teen Wolf"

(starring fellow Edmonton-born Canadian actor Michael J Fox 

The wolf was surfing on the roof of a moving van. Everything was very cool and

full of joy, just like the joyful sounds of the horn when my friend was playing


Then a little slip on a note sounded like the surfer had a mild slip, but he was

ok.  Unfortunately, while he pondered if he really was ok, he forgot he was still

on the roof of a moving van (or playing the rest of the phrase on horn), and suddenly

it was like the van drove past some trees with thin branches sticking out that assaulted

the happy van-surfer for about ten intense seconds.  The blissful sounds of "La

la leeee" turned to "AHHHHRRRRGH!!"

...and then the assault was over, and it was magically back to happy surfing.

Does this sound familiar to you?

Here is another cinematic rendering of what inspired me to work on keeping a good


Robin Hood Daffy - "To trip, to tripping up and down"


It is true that we cannot always be at our absolute best.  I have a few moments

in concert when even I go, "Wow Jeff, that was amazing!"  I manifest my absolute

best for only a few notes per concert. Otherwise I'm somewhere between my best

and my worst.  Everyone is, in every performance.

There are Three Performance Assessment Factors

 I believe that I won my orchestral auditions by making a few "Wow" moments and playing

mostly close to that level the rest of the time.  However, there is a third factor

that goes into peoples' assessment of your performance.  People assess how bad your

worst is, and/or how long you stay at your worst level.

When I won, I had a good worst.  Also, when I was at my worst, I responded quickly

to get close to my best again. 

Be at your best all the time.

Sure, but then there's the rest of the time...

...and in reality:

"Only the mediocre are always at their best."

- Jean Giraudoux

So I keep my worst playing at the highest level possible, while constantly aiming

for the greatest musical storytelling possible.

Two Performers 

Let's compare two performers, and you tell me who would win more auditions, sell

more product, win more games, or have richer, more fulfilling relationships. We'll

use the same comparison scale for both performers, where 10 is mind-blowingly amazing

in every way and a zero is impressively lame...in every way.

Each performer gives a performance, and somehow we assign numbers to the average

best and worst moments of their performance.

Performer 1 - Best moments reached an 8.4 and their worst were at a 3.7

Performer 2 - Best moments reached only a 7.8 but their worst was a 5.6

I believe Performer 2 would get what they wanted through performance more often

than Performer 1.

Task for today - Have a Good Worst

What were some of your worsts yesterday?  Ponder this for a few moments, and then

constructively imagine a way to make a similar "worst" moment be good today.

That's it.  That's all.

Your good worst can happen in the practice room, rehearsal or concert if you're

a musician, in a meeting, in a class situation, in a game, or in a discussion with

a friend or relative.  If you said something you now see you could have said better,

make it good today.

If you thought something about someone else that you could have thought better,

do it.  No one else has to know.

You'll know.

You'll have made your worst good.  Not just better...good.  This is how the world



Stay fearless my friends,




Fearless Performance in Canada!

I'm thrilled to taking Fearless Performance to the University of Windsor in Ontario

for a 1-Day Workshop in April.

Come join me in learning about our fears in performance and in life.

All ages - All levels - All instruments are welcome!

$95 usd + $10 Registration fee.

For registration and more information please visit:

University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada- April 11, 2015 [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001Sl44WKhNIi0xERfuRU9LnrPyiSi8zVB_bDpV3hPDPE27um0fujqJ4BY_Byand75xDJdquDFijKsk6YsEbCayi15_JcCuzypFWXSSDR2yIq6gQR4lj0I0CnNbFIhU4mnO6x0mONst0Vg=]




Jeff Nelsen
Jeff Nelsen


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