In the last audition experience I wrote about, I had discovered the importance of simplifying my pre-performance routine to remove crippling over-thinking in the crucial moment just before beginning an excerpt. It helped tremendously. (Read all about that here!)
This time, however, I wanted to address another issue.
...and how it all went out the window in the warm-up room.
Any confidence that I had mustered up on my way to the audition had crumbled once I stepped into the warm-up room and started hearing 20 flawless Peter and the Wolf excerpts from every corner.
It got worse once I heard the flutist in the corner telling someone else she just got her degree from fill-in-the-blank-conservatory and has been playing with such-and-such wonderful orchestra.
I made my best effort to say: Don't listen...just warm-up...who cares...I'll be fine... but I spent so much energy trying to block out everyone else that I had lost myself completely.
1. Finding Confidence Earlier in the Process
On Day 79 of #100DaysOfPractice on Instagram, I made an important realization when I started warming up just before going to get lunch one day.
I had been listening to inspiring recordings by my favorite artists that morning. When I went to play, I waltzed right up to the big window in the living room, started playing, and I realized that I was uninhibited.
I was not over-thinking any aspect of my playing, and I realized this is what confident playing feels like.
I knew that performance mode can't thrive when you're still in analyzing-practice-mode, but experiencing it in this moment was illuminating. This was a whole new level of letting go and simplifying my effortful thoughts and actions, and I wanted to access this every day leading up the audition.
After understanding how I could access confidence through spontaneity and turning it into a daily habit leading up to the audition, I needed a new tactic for holding onto confidence in the warm-up room.
Several books, articles, and friends told me to wear headphones. (Why wasn't I doing this before?!) I made a playlist of comforting and uplifting songs paired with about 50% Beyonce, and I warmed up with headphones on.
I was already comfortable using ear plugs while warming-up, but I also made sure to practice warming up with other songs playing to get used to the feeling before doing this on audition day.
In the actual warm-up room, I still heard Peter and the Wolf, but I also heard songs that remind me of who I am and what I enjoy outside of a warm-up room.
This is the part that made a world of difference in allowing me to remain confident: not just blocking out everyone else, but also fueling my own identity and connection to confidence outside of playing an instrument.
The Bulletproof Musician just shared an article on the subject of using music to ease anxiety this morning: Click here to read it!
With each new audition experience, some new part of the preparation process comes into focus, especially regarding the mental aspects of performing under pressure.
Confidence comes with every new learning experience, and the ability to simplify and trust is key in removing mental obstacles.
How do you remain confident in auditions? Do you use headphones in the warm-up room? Tell me in the comments below!
@joleneflute / Instagram