It all begins with embracing your mistakes.
Let’s face it, sooner or later, each of us makes mistakes. We make them in life, in work and in performing!
I was reading an article earlier today in which the author stated, “the fear of failure is directly proportional to the level of talent”, in her students. I found this very interesting and after thinking about it for a few minutes, I realized that I agree.
Over the years, it’s been my most talented students who have spent the most time second guessing themselves. They consistently stop in the middle of a singing/playing/dancing/giving a talk because they know something is off. It has been the same in my corporate life. The most competent and in most cases successful business development officers, the ones who repeatedly close those win-win deals, are the most doubtful of performance and concerned about making goal.
The plus of knowing something is off is awareness. A mistake can’t be fixed if it’s unknown to the performer/employee/business owner. Self-awareness is key to personal growth as an artist or business owner.
Best of all, it can enhance all areas of your life whether you’re working on singing, dancing, driving a car, selling bank products, or mastering your golf swing. Simply put, if you don’t know you’re doing something wrong; you can’t fix it! Awareness is a definite plus!
The minus of stilted practice is that you risk building faulty muscle memory and a lack of mental connectivity. In fancy tech talk, we call this, “reinforcing an incorrect neuro-muscular pattern”. Tah-dah! Didn’t know I could be so techie, did ya?
You see, muscle memory is what carries a performer, seasoned teacher or experienced sales person, through the process successfully when we’re tired, stressed out, distracted, or an unexpected case of nerves kicks in.
Thinking musically, singing isn’t just pretty sound. It’s a carefully channeled use of the human body to perform a task that is both physically demanding and mentally challenging. Stilted practice results in decreased brain-body connection. The body can’t link muscle memory through disjointed musical phrases. More importantly, the brain can’t connect the two.
Here’s an example from my own past…
I went for my first college audition. I had prepared a song by Purcell. I had some difficulty with it. There was one spot in the middle that got me every time! I wasn’t able to correct the issue by audition time, so I went ahead with what I had prepared, praying I’d make it through, and guess what, I did! I sang that really difficult part perfectly! Then… totally blanked out on the next entrance! Why? Because my stilted practice had stopped my BRAIN from making the connection between those two sections of the song!
The bottom line is this: A vital part of acquiring any new skill is self-monitoring. So, if you’re having trouble with your golf swing, raise your awareness of body mechanics and swing through.
Ask yourself these questions when practicing your new activity:
Why is it wrong?
What did it feel like?
What does “right” feel like?
What am I doing?
How can I change this?
Become an active partner with your teacher or coach!
Especially in the US, we need to change our attitude toward our mistakes. We prize immediate success so highly, that many of us quit learning out of embarrassment or frustration just when we are about to have a breakthrough moment. For singers, we see and hear the finished product only, not the hours that went into the process, the same is true for golf, dance, writing or business success. It is good to have heroes and role models but remember they were all beginners once and if you ask them I’m sure they will tell you they make mistakes all the time. Some may even say their biggest mistakes led to their greatest success. You just never know.
Self-Awareness and consistency in practice/training will help get you through every time.
Change your perspective! Re-frame your thoughts!
“Mistakes are the guideposts to success!” Let this be your mantra!
Recognize your current limitations and push back with increased self-awareness!
In singing, as in life… change your mind and embrace your mistakes, it will change your performance and can change your life.
If you would like help in learning to tune in to self-awareness, please click to contact me.