“We are typically led to believe that being “nervous” is a bad thing; but in reality, those nerves that you feel before a performance are not really the enemy. Most of us have never learned how to use adrenaline to our advantage. By telling ourselves to “just relax”, we are actually doing each other a disservice by implicitly confirming that the anxiety we feel is bad and to be feared”
Centering was designed in the 1970s by the sport psychologist Dr. Robert Nideffer (derived from the martial art of aikido) and adapted for performing artists by Olympic sport psychologist Dr.
Don Greene Ph.D. Centering is a highly effective means of (a) channeling your nerves productively and (b) directing your focus even in extreme situations.
So, in this video, we are going to learn how to improve our focus to make the most of our time and practice routine. With the technique called centering and the 7 steps to learn how to practice it that I am about to share with you, you will embrace the nerves you naturally feel when performing to actually enhance your playing.
When you first try to Center, it may take several minutes to go through all of the steps. If you practice this for 10-15 minutes per day, however, and stick with it, you will begin to notice a difference within a week or two and find that you can center in 5-10 seconds. There are 7 steps:
Step 1: Select a Focal Point. Select a fixed point in the distance; something to fix your gaze on that is below your eye level. For instance, it could be on your stand, the ground in front of you, or on the back row of the hall. A focal point helps to minimize distractions.
Step 2: Form a Clear intention. A clear intention is in essence, a specific goal statement. What do you intend to do when you step out on stage? How exactly do you intend to sound? What, precisely, do you intend to communicate to the audience? Make sure you have a clear vision of what you intend to do before doing it. Be able to explain your musical intentions with words using assertive, positive and declarative language, such as “I am going to perform brilliantly, with passion and clear dynamic contrast”, as opposed to “I hope to play well”.
Step 3: Breathe Mindfully. Focus intently on the sensory processes involved in your diaphragmatic breathing; feel the pacing become slower and more regular.
Step 4: Scan and Release excess Muscle Tension. Scan your muscles from head to toe as you continue to breathe slowly and deeply, one muscle group at a time, releasing tension on the exhale. Develop a more acute awareness of muscle tension in the practice room so you can let go of that which inhibits and impair your performance.
Step 5: Find your Center. Get grounded feeling the soul of your feet on the floor, find a stable base, and use the support of the ground beneath you.
Step 6: Repeat Your Process Cue. Summon an image/sound/sensation associated with playing well-feeling that cue or activate the technical process entailed in producing exactly the outcome you envision and hear in your mind beforehand.
Make sure you do this until you can hear, see and feel yourself performing exactly the way you would like.
Step 7: Direct Your Energy. Consolidate extraneous energy at your center and direct it outwards towards your focal point when ready. Release this energy with your clear intention in mind; imagine your sound being carried along this stream of energy.
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See you in the next video.