We see a performer, we really are seeing only 70-80% of their true capacity, or at least that’s what I used to believe. While I still find this gap to exist, I recently changed my approach to reaching my true potential.
My newest belief is one of becoming more accustom to the act of performing. If we spend most of our time practicing in front of a crowd, the problem in realizing our full capacity through over-prepardness diminishes. Certain individuals thrive in a live performance, a select few meltdown from nerves, and most of us are somewhere in the middle, where a combination of the elements (preparation, nerves, etc) create the outcome of a performance.
An example: Imagine you have just learned a brand new piece, a Bach fugue perhaps? You wish to play this piece live, but always feel underprepared, therefore delaying the performance. The catch 22 here is that a big part of the growth process is the performance experience; the more you perform the piece, the better it will become. Not to say don’t practice, but when the you reach the level of diminishing returns for a piece, it’s time to schedule a performance. From that performance, you will discover new aspects of the piece that need work, and therefore restarting the preparation process.
My previous method consisted of preparing material beyond 100%, which requires an extreme amount of practice. In an article I wrote a year ago, ‘The Zone,’ I touched briefly upon the concept of constantly raising the bar, as opposed to bridging the gap. What I propose is that both are possible; Set goals higher and higher, while making the actual ‘buffer zone’ between that bar and what I will call performance readiness, much smaller.
It seems funny to think of musicians having an off-season, much like professional athletes, but nowadays, aspiring musicians adhere to the academic school year, which yield, at least in the United States, about three months of vacation.
I usually operate under the odd paradox of completing less…
Now seems like an appropriate time to remind myself of the points mentioned in this article. It’s always so hard to keep the ball rolling when summertime starts.
I know that even a small amount a day over the over the course of three months would make a big difference.
It really all boils down to:
- A form of motivation
All three combined really help keep the process inline. I highly recommend setting goals, and then keeping the daily routine aiming towards their completion.