Mastering the Art of Performance: A Primer for Musicians

Mastering the Art of Performance: A Primer for Musicians

Mastering the Art of Performance: A Primer for Musicians

Mastering the Art of Performance: A Primer for Musicians

Synopsis

InMastering the Art of Performance: A Primer for Musicians, Stewart Gordon offers seasoned advice to musicians intent on meeting the challenges of performance. Through real-life examples and pre-performance exercises, this accessible manual gives musicians and other performers practical insights into every aspect of performance. While other books merely identify and describe the problems associated with performance, this book offers detailed suggestions for solving them.
First, Gordon tackles the critical planning and preparatory stages, helping performers to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. The book's easy-to-follow exercises address the self-doubt and anxiety many musicians contend with, helping them to analyze why they perform, set goals and assess the level of energy needed to achieve them, and develop a performance philosophy. The book also offers techniques that will help musicians deal with some of the classic pitfalls of performance preparation, including repetition and drill, changing bad habits, and developing memory.
For the performance itself, Gordon's insights help musicians with pacing and managing stage fright. For the aftermath, Gordon arms performers with strategies for dealing with criticism and conducting a constructive self-evaluation, equipping them to face the challenges of a lifetime of performances, including career plateaus and burnout.
Gordon draws from more than forty years of experience in front of audiences to offer readers invaluable tips and personal reflections. While aimed primarily at musicians, the book will be useful to anyone facing the pressures of performance, such as actors, dancers, and even public speakers.

Excerpt

Let us start with the concept of self-perception. When Socrates said Know Thyself, he reduced to an epigrammatic command a task that can be difficult, time-consuming, and complex. There are those who, indeed, spend years in psychoanalysis pursuing this goal. Most might agree that such an extended, intricate process would ultimately yield unique benefits, but unless we find ourselves in deep psychological trouble, we will probably not take the time or invest the money for such extended self-examination. Yet we also often realize the need for a more quickly formulated, workable impression of our own being in order to address day-to-day challenges and strive toward personal and professional goals.

In deep analysis, one uncovers and deals with painful or traumatic past experiences. Similarly, to grasp a more pragmatic self-awareness, you may find that in a cursory assessment, the experiences that spring to mind are the painful or traumatic ones. All of us develop strong perceptions of ourselves as a result of having experienced pain, and many of our most deeply ingrained lessons remain in our memory in order to help us avoid such pain again. For many individuals, these lessons are easily triggered the instant self-contemplation begins. These recollections often result in an acute awareness of those personal characteristics that render us vulnerable, frail, or weak.

The opposite could also be cited: that positive past experiences, such as achievement or success, might be associated with our talents and our strong points and they too can be summoned up as powerful components of our personality. Most individuals, however, tend to relegate their strong points to a more subdued role in self-assessment. Some psychologists attribute this tendency to the fact that humans harbor a stronger desire to avoid pain than to experience pleasure.

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