In January, the ISM Trust launched Play, a ground-breaking toolkit for optimal music performance. Play draws on significant psychological and philosophical research across music and sport. It has been written by two experts in the field of performance psychology – Gregory Daubney (CPsychol, MSc), a Chartered Sport and Exercise Psychologist who has worked extensively across performance domains, and Dr Alison Daubney (PhD), a Music Teacher Trainer, Researcher and Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Sussex. Here they describe their strategy.
Gregory Daubney (CPsychol, MSc) and Dr Alison Daubney (PhD)
Performance nerves have always been part of every professional musician’s make up, whatever the genre. Coping mechanisms, however, have generally been left to chance, alcohol or prescription drugs. What musicians actually need to optimise performance are effective psychological coping strategies to guide them into the ‘excited’ state commonly associated with optimal performance rather than the ‘fearful’ state more commonly associated with unsuccessful performance.
Welcome to Play: A psychological toolkit for optimal music performance. Commissioned by the Incorporated Society of Musicians Trust (ismtrust.org), this ground-breaking new toolkit draws upon up-to-date research from the world of sport psychology, where the desire for optimal performance levels has led the way in performance psychology for the past thirty years and makes its strategies available to performing musicians.
We all want to produce our best whenever we can, but such demands can place a heavy psychological burden on musicians. The toolkit takes a holistic view of the musician, embedded in their social and cultural world. It provides a lens through which to explore optimal performance and music performance anxiety over a musician’s lifetime, promoting greater understanding of the manifestations of feelings, emotions and behaviours that so often sit on the tipping point between healthy excitement and activation, and debilitating anxiety.
Packed full of practical strategies, Play provides ideas and suggestions of how to maximise potential and promote enjoyment. Developing a performance mind-set which asks the individual musician to focus on the value of the music and away from the immediate emotional discomfort, the toolkit aims to develop confidence, awareness and an enhanced ability to perform optimally.
The stresses and strains placed on performing musicians of all levels are examined from the perspective of both their internal world (for example, their expectations, previous behaviours, thoughts and emotions) and their external world (predominantly the environment surrounding the musician, including their family, peers, the venue, audience and their music). Each page is packed with hands on practical skills and recommendations musicians can develop through practice to help them not only cope effectively with performance nerves, but also produce their best performance again and again.
Each strategy is explained, described and an example is provided showing how the strategy could be used. A recommendation box is also included specifying the type of strategy, along with how and where it should be developed.
Overcoming stage fright requires dedication, effort, investment of time and most of all, willingness and commitment to change. Through this resource, we want to flip the negative emotions associated with music performance anxiety around and instead, focus on achieving optimal music performance on a more regular basis through implementing effective psychological skill development.
Play is available as an eBook optimised for use with iBooks, PC and all popular eReaders. The book that this toolkit has been adapted from Play: The psychology of optimal music performance by Gregory Daubney and Dr Alison Daubney, will be available later this year.
Prices: eBook £5/£4 for ISM members, printed book £10/£8 for ISM members