Part 1: Why “Normal” Practice Doesn’t Help Performance
Train your mind to get more from your physical technique
The big idea here is very simple.
Most musicians I come across believe the only way to play better in performance or to reduce nerves is by practising physical technique on your instrument (Singers: your voice is an instrument just like any other. So everything I say here applies to you too).
This seems logical, since it’s your physical movements which ultimately create the beautiful sounds you’re after… And when things go wrong, it’s incorrect physical movements which are responsible for the mistakes.
But the truth is that physical movements are merely how you translate the music that already exists in your thoughts into sound. How you think always affects everything you play.
When you look at it that way you realise that your thoughts and emotions are the filter through which all your technique and theory has to pass. You’re only able to access a fraction of your actual ability when you play music.
How much? That’s determined by your mental game.
And once you reach the point where your mental skills are what holds you back the most, then more physical practice won’t help.
You CAN Train Your Mind…
The key takeaway here is that even though thoughts and emotions are abstract, that doesn’t mean you can’t train them.
When you have the right mindsets and mental skills in place then you’ll consistently play at your best in performances. In fact, you’ll often find yourself playing at a level that you didn’t realise you were capable of.
Improving your inner game can’t give you physical skills that you haven’t earned – but you will finally get full value for all the work that you’ve done in the practice room.
And because this is an area that most musicians completely neglect, it’s usually the single most efficient place to look for performance boosts.
In fact, you’ll also find that you enjoy your music much more. Nerves will disappear and you’ll start to express yourself freely and fearlessly.
It’ll all make sense as we go through this.
So let’s get started.
3 Keys To Playing Your Best
There are lots of “moving parts” to the different mindsets and mental skills that allow you to play your best. But it ultimately all comes down to just 3 simple things that you need to master in order to perform at your best every time:
- Build awesome and realistic self-belief that doesn’t fluctuate with your mood (this is trainable)
- Have a reliable way to get into your Ideal Performance State (IPS) before you start to play
- Stay there throughout the performance!
Of course, although these things are simple… they’re not easy.
Just like all the other areas of music, simply understanding the concepts in theory isn’t enough to help you achieve them in practice. The secret to getting the results you want is to:
- Work with proven, concrete exercises
- Do this over a long enough period of time
- Stay consistent in your practice
If you do all that, then the training will kick in automatically whenever you need it.
Just be aware that nothing can guarantee a perfect outcome every time (don’t believe anyone who tells you differently). These tools are extremely effective, and they’ll stack the odds massively in your favour… but they’re not a magic bullet.
I’m going to share my very best exercises with you now – the exact same ones that I give to my paying students. And then I’ll tell you how I get my students to work on them (we’ll cover this on page 7).
Let’s start with some tools to strengthen your confidence. I can almost guarantee you’ve never heard self-belief explained in this way before…