Magazine article The American Organist

Move beyond Your Comfort Zone

Magazine article The American Organist

Move beyond Your Comfort Zone

Article excerpt

I recently read an article written by a performance psychologist at Juilliard that addressed the need to practice and perform at 200%. The comparison was made to a tennis game, saying anyone who plays tennis knows how important the serve is. However, "simply getting the serve in is not enough. If you hit a safe, slow, easy, highbouncing serve, you're probably going to lose the point. If your opponent is any good, they'll simply cream the ball for a winner. Point over. So, not only do you have to get the ball in, but you have to get it in like you mean business."

The article went on to talk about how often musicians are afraid to give more than 50%-that sometimes they are so focused on technical precision, and playing perfectly, that they do not allow themselves to play musically. "Playing at 50% (or 60% or even 70%) of maximum is far more comfortable and likely to happen under pressure, because in order to 'do more' or even approach 200%, one must be willing to momentarily sacrifice technical excellence to see what is possible. And we've been so well conditioned to shy away from mistakes of any kind, that few are willing to risk hitting the ball so hard that it goes outside the lines.

"Yet, making a concerted effort to move away from our '50% zone' in the safety of the practice room is what it takes to reach our potential and open up the doors to creative possibilities in the music that we would otherwise never discover" ("Your Growth Edges and How to Find Them," by Dr. …

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