The concept

The concept

And holistic approach to Music Performance

  • Why do you play better some days than others?
  • Is it a coincidence?
  • Why do you sometimes fail to show your full potential and ability on the concert platform?
  • Why do you experience sweating hands, weak fingers and stiff muscles, inability to control your hands and mind?
  • How can you develop the ability to be able to control your state of mind and be totally “switched on” when you have to perform?
  • How can you achieve control over fast, technically difficult passages on the concert platform?
  • How can you motivate yourself to practise the same piece over and over again?

You can realize and show your true potential whenever you have to, by learning how to control your emotions and inner negative dialogue – this is called mental strength. You can develop it by learning key strategies.

Inger Ram workshopMental Training for Musicians: uses a concept especially developed for musicians. It embraces diverse phycology theories, personal research and practical experience and the best training techniques used by elite sports people. It also uses body psychology, bioenergetic exercises, mediation and visualisation techniques, autogen training, breathing exercises and grounding techniques.

It is a concept that I have based on many years of research and experience working with conservatoire students and professional musicians.

The concept is divided into four modules, each dealing with a specific aspect of performance anxiety and how one can deal with them. The workshops and individual treatment begins with an examination of the nature of anxiety, its origins, and the various elements that are the root cause of performance nerves.

Thought pattern: That is followed by focusing on the destructive power of an inner negative dialogue. Techniques to re-programme it to be a constructive dialogue will be worked on. An inner negative dialogue can lead to many chaotic thoughts, loss of focus, poor concentration, mental block, anxiety attack and occasionally, a panic attack; and in some cases, the end of a promising career. It is vital to stop this destructive thought pattern.

Grounding: is a major theme when addressing stage fright. Many lose their sense of balance and control over their limbs when they are nervous. That influences their muscles and symptoms such as; shaking, weak hands, stiff fingers, occasional numbness and momentary paralysis can occur. If allowed to continue, it can lead to an experience of seeing yourself from the outside, having no control, acting like a robot, losing focus. By working with the recommended exercises, the problem will be reduces and in a short time, disappear.

Inger Murray working with RAM students

Respiration: Another theme is respiration and how important a role it pays in achieving an optimal performance. I have worked with many woodwind and brass players who have had respiration problems, singers too.

Relaxation and stress reducing exercises are taught.

Visualisation techniques will be worked on. Used correctly, visualisation can lead to improved performances and eliminate nervousness. You will learn how to programme yourself by creating a film of how you wish the concert performance to be. It will influence your mind, and as the subconscious mind believes what you are able to imagine, visualisation becomes a fantastic tool to improve your performance level. Furthermore, it helps greatly to enable you to learn new repertoire faster and more effectively.

Centering techniques that help to create awareness of physical tension, focus on the music, and increase energy.

Techniques are taught on how to eliminate the fear generated by past problematic concert performance experience, so that one can avoid it occurring in a similar situation again. It is also useful prior to a performance, if a rehearsal has not gone to plan. Take a problematic rehearsal experience into a concert performance can influence your playing level and lead to a repeat of the rehearsal situation because you have a negative focus on it. The technique you learn will remove the emotions attached to the problem and it will cease to influence you further.

Individual mental problems are best tackled in 1 to 1 sessions. I have over the years, worked with many orchestral musicians who have developed problems such as bow-shake, decreased power in hands and in some cases, paralysis in hands or fingers.

 

Other factors you must be aware of are:

  • Physical training

Many musicians, young and od, suffer from an array of injuries due to lack of knowledge of how to build up the muscles needed to play their instruments, warming –up (before), cooling-down (after), practising and performing and the vital importance of doing stretching exercises.

No elite sports person would jump into action without first ensuring their muscles are in perfect condition to realize the discipline that ere embarking on. It is exactly the same for an instrumentalist prior to practising or performing a concert. The demands on a muscle are that it must have endurance without tiring. It must have strength and to achive that, it must be elastic and flexible. You need a muscle that can react quickly and have the ability to complete many tasks, or equally just one task. The basis for a muscle being able to function quickly is that it can change at speed between contraction and expansion. The better the co-ordination, the less energy you have to out into the muscle.

In other words, you should always be able to rely on your muscles to function at peak performance and know how to avoid future repetitive strain injuries.

  • Diet

I have often seen performers trying to give a performance in an obviously dehydrated, nutritionally run down condition.

“You are what you eat “. The body needs energy and it is not superficial where that energy comes from. Just like a sports person, you need to be very aware of what you eat prior to a concert performance. Some foods give a short and instant energy boost. Other foods give sufficiently high energy to sustain a whole concert. There are also foods and drinks that can take away your energy. You should be aware of your daily diet and what nutritional value, if any, it contains. Some foods build up muscles and others weaken them. A build up too much acid in the body can, for example, be one of the factors in developing a tennis elbow. By having knowledge and understanding of nutrition, one has a choice!

Research in connection with workshops has shown that very few musicians have either knowledge of, or have even considered the importance and influence of these factors.