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.
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 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=]