Sunday, December 30, 2012

Are You Prepared?

But you don't understand. If I'm going to get up on a stage and perform, I have to have completely prepared the material. I have to know it inside and out. Otherwise I get so nervous that I totally lose it. I freeze. I can't play a note.

That's so limiting.

What's so limiting?

Needing to have totally prepared for the gig in order to perform without having a breakdown.

Don't you think it's important to be prepared?

I think it can be useful to be prepared, but it's far from necessary. In some cases knowing material inside and out can lead to a less inspired performance. Sometimes it's important to not be prepared.

Oh come on. Ask anyone and they'll tell you that they get nervous when they're on stage in front of an audience and they haven't fully prepared.

Statistically speaking, ask anyone and they'll tell you they get nervous prepared or not. Preparedness has nothing to do with it, or at least not directly. Preparedness is just one of many security blankets one can use to feel safer on stage.

OK, so if it's not preparedness, what is it.

Confidence.

Confidence in what?

In yourself.

But doesn't your confidence in yourself depend on how well you've prepared.

Yes, and no.

Sheesh... I knew there was gonna be a "yes and no" somewhere.

Yes, how you prepare helps build confidence, but no your confidence is not in your preparedness; it's in you. As soon as you start to question your preparedness, you're no longer trusting yourself; you're trusting your preparedness. Since in that moment you have no control over how well you've previously prepared, your confidence goes to hell.

OK, so if your confidence is not based on how well you've prepared, then what does preparation have to do with confidence?

Rather than preparing material, your prepare to be confident. You practice confidence.

How can someone practice confidence?

Well, for one, you could start playing in front of people without preparing for the specific event. You just get up and perform, trusting that you'll be able to play something pleasing, even if not exactly what you'd intended.

And that will build confidence?

Not necessarily, but in your case it couldn't hurt.

And that's it?

No, the more important thing is to get good at what you do independent of the events for which you want to be good. Practice every day and take delight in what you're learning. If you take delight in your own playing, other people will as well.

But I don't want to get all full of myself thinking that I'm another Miles or Freddy or Dizzy.

I didn't say, "Tell yourself how good you are."  I said, "Take delight in what you're doing."

OK, and then what.

Keep doing that and you'll be prepared. Then take every opportunity to perform in your newly unprepared, but prepared way.

And that's it?

I think so.

Happy Sunday,
Teflon

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