audition hacker

What I Learned (+ Changed) About My Relationship With Self-Trust From a Golf Book

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Back in my most recent audition preparation experience, I bought a book called: Golf is Not a Game of Perfect by Dr. Bob Rotella. I first heard about it in Rob Knopper's interview with Matt Howard on his strategies to win his audition with the LA Phil, where he discussed his elevated mental strategies and focus on his pre-shot routine. 

 

I recently picked it up again and started over from the beginning. 

 

Dr. Rotella is a performance consultant who specifically works with pro golfers on the mental side of their game.

There are some general, common sense ideas in there, and Dr. Rotella even attests that his simple methods often surprise his clients. 

The thing about reading and processing these concepts again and again is that every time, a new light bulb goes off. I can digest it in a new way that allows me to really become aware of my mindset and try something new.


My Relationship with Trust: Doubt Comes First

 

"Many weekend golfers don't even wait for a bad shot to stop trusting their swing. They step onto the first tee thinking of a dozen mechanical concepts...Without realizing it, they're doing everything possible to undermine their own game." (pg. 48)

 

"The hot streak represents the golfer's true capability. It results, essentially, from trust. The golfer trusts his abilities. He steps up to the ball knowing that he can pick a target and hit it there. He does things unconsciously. The swing repeats itself. It feels effortless." (pg. 49)


I initially realized how often I direct the mechanics of my own playing thinking about my recent recordings for Etude of the Week.

 

I always think about the "what-I'm-doing" portion in practice. Of course, it's important to observe oneself and make corrections. 

 

I also know that thinking about what to do hinders a performance, but I have continuously obsessed over self-directing while recording my etudes due to fear of failure:

I want to create the best possible outcome, so I hang onto all the little instructions that steered me well in practice.

 

Ultimately, this becomes exhausting.

 

My intentions are always to let go and direct myself to freedom, but I often end up adding tension when it comes to performing or recording. I physically feel the weight of it.

 

Self-directing is a form of self-doubt.

 

I am not exercising trust.


TRUST IS A HABIT. (And So Is Doubt.)

 

Great golf players trust themselves. They put in highly effective practice, and then let go and trust on game day. They trust no matter what happens - they keep locking in on their targets, and going for them.

 

Thinking about the amount of time I spend over-thinking, especially in practice, I recognize that my habit is doubt:

 

On a deeper level with how I think and act, I am doubting that I can create a beautiful sound without telling myself all the steps first.

 

I spend so little time cultivating trust with my mindset during practice and in life, that it's almost impossible to fully access trust in a performance. Starting to think about cultivating trust comes way too late in the process for me.


Embodying Trust as a Habit

 

After this revelation, I recorded my Etude of the Week, and I dove in without overthinking.

 

I didn't analyze myself first. I didn't double check how to play all the low notes, or the short notes, or the trills.. I gave myself permission to trust and not direct anything.

 

Not only was it more fun to play, it went better than I expected.

 

My only goals were to think in terms of targets:

I imagined myself hitting them, and then I did. 

 

More importantly, I didn't spend an hour recording take after take, physically exhausting myself. I felt light and free without instructing myself to feel light and free.

 

I carried this into my fundamentals practice, where I am almost 100% of the time living in careful instruction mode. My default this time was to choose to trust and live affirmatively in the moment, and if anything went wrong, I could go back and fix it. 

 

Trust first, not doubt: Play affirmatively, not with a question mark.

 

This eased an enormous amount of the frustrations I felt earlier that day. This also made it possible to have a pretty successful sight-reading session, as well! 


Here are my reflections for the week:

 

  • Do I play, practice, and think with a question mark of doubt over my head?

 

  • What happens if I stop waiting to ingrain trust?

 

  • What happens if I decide I'm worthy of trust right from the beginning?

 

  • What happens if I embody trust as a habit, as my default?


What is your relationship with trust like? Do you notice when you're trusting vs. doubting? What is your default? Do you cultivate trust every day?



 

 

 

17 Must-See Resources if You're Preparing for an Audition

In the spirit of audition preparation, I've been collecting various resources on auditions, effective practice, mental skills, mock auditions, and more. There are countless resources available, but here are a few that I've found bookmark-worthy. Many of these resources contain further articles and links to even more resources that you may find useful in your own audition preparation.

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UNDERSTANDING + RE-FRAMING PERFORMANCE STRESS

 

Why I Don't Talk about "Stage Fright" and "Performance Anxiety" by Kate Conklin

  • "They’ve got the idea...that to perform, one should be “calm” or “relaxed.” And so when they experience *excitement, they re-interpret it as “stress” or “anxiety.”

 

Get Excited: Reappraising Pre-Performance Anxiety as Excitement by A.W. Brooks

  • "Compared to those who attempt to calm down, individuals who reappraise their anxious arousal as excitement feel more excited and perform better. Individuals can reappraise anxiety as excitement using minimal strategies such as self-talk (e.g., saying "I am excited" out loud) or simple messages (e.g., "get excited"), which lead them to feel more excited, adopt an opportunity mindset (as opposed to a threat mindset), and improve their subsequent performance."

 

Go Ahead and Sweat It! A Flutist's Unconventional Guide to Handling Performance Anxiety by The Self-Inspired Flutist

  • "When you fight your performance anxiety, you actually give it strength." 

 

What To Do About Performance Anxiety by Barbara Conable

  • "There are four distinct phenomena that go by the name performance anxiety. Each requires a different response, so it is important to name all four and distinguish them from each other so that the appropriate response may be chosen."

 

A Few Things Every Musician Ought to Know About Stage Fright

  • "Have you ever had a performance when everything just “clicked?" ...You may have heard of this referred to as “the zone.” Well, this magical state pretty much requires that you experience some degree of anxiety. No anxiety, no zone."

 

Helen’s Highly Recommended Books for Confident Performance via The Flute Examiner

  • Fourteen resources compiled by Helen Spielman, Performance Anxiety Coach

 

Douglas Yeo, Trombone, on Performance Anxiety

  • "Think about all of this in a different way. Instead of trying to solve the problem of performance anxiety, think a little deeper and work toward putting your performance in context with your broader life. Performance anxiety may not really be a problem, but rather may be a symptom of other issues (such as insecurity, or emotional hurt, lack of preparation and dedication, etc.) which, once addressed in a straightforward, direct way, can lead to a healthier life in all areas."

PREPARING TO PERFORM UNDER PRESSURE + STRATEGIES FOR EFFECTIVE MOCK AUDITIONS

 

Bulletproof Musician: How Can You Create the Feeling of Real Pressure in Practice Situations?

  • "Being clutch under pressure is a skill we can get better at – by practicing under pressure...What are the most effective ways of manufacturing pressure training situations in advance of a big performance or audition?"

 

How Juilliard Teaches Musicians to Handle Stress by Daniel McGinn with Noa Kageyama

  • "In another class, he makes them do burpees until they’re sweaty and breathing hard — then asks them to play for the group. “It’s distracting when your heart is pounding,” he says, but if you practice playing while feeling that sensation, it can become a little less unnerving."

 

Rob Knopper: How to Stop Shaking Snare Drum [Video] + Stress-Inducing Exercises Download

  • "Going through a realistic mock audition forces you to experience the full range of things that you're going to have to get used to and get comfortable with at an actual audition. If you're not practicing like this, then you're not really practicing for an audition."

 

Four Alternative Methods to Make Sure Your Practice Efforts Survive the Pressures of Performance - The Strad

  • "A violist with a background in neuroscience, Molly Gebrian shares some alternative practice methods informed by studies on how our brain processes learning."

 

Audition Practice - Mock Auditions by Toby Oft, Trombone

  • "I want you to consider one thing: The better you get, the less often you perform for just trombonists."

 

MockAuditions.com - An Online Platform to Help You Win Your Next Audition

  • "Mockauditions.com is an online platform that connects and enables users to play for professional coaches and receive valuable feedback." 

ADVICE for Advancing in Auditions + REAL AUDITION STORIES

 

Rob Knopper's Free Mini-Course: How to Advance in an Audition 101

  • A free, 3-video course: 4 Reasons Why Anyone Can Win an Audition, The 3 Vital Phases of Audition Preparation, & What a Winning Audition Sounds Like

 

How to Win an Audition: Advice and Strategies from 3 Renowned Performer/Teachers by The Bulletproof Musician

  • "We all know that success requires talent and hard work, but on some level, we’re also deeply curious about the “secret sauce,” or those tiny, but significant little details that can be the difference between advancing and going home, or winning and being runner-up."

 

New World Symphony Audition Panel Discussion [Video]

  • "NWS Coaches on Auditioning with Craig Morris (trumpet), Marianne Gedegian (flute), David Allen Moore (bass), William VerMeulen (horn), Daniel Matsukawa (bassoon), Jonathan Vinocour (viola), Mark Kellogg (trombone), Robert Davidovici (violin)."

 

Doug Rosenthal's A Tale of Two Auditions

  • "This is an account of a specific time in my specific life.  What I did for these specific auditions worked well enough specifically for me at these specific moments. I hope you find it helpful, insightful, or at the very least, entertaining."

Have you utilized any of the above resources? Share your favorite resources in the comments!

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