Mindfulness, Confidence & Performance:
A Transformative Program for Musicians
at Edinboro University, Erie, PA
July 21 – 28
The Art of Practicing Institute’s annual summer program, Mindfulness, Confidence & Performance, takes place at Edinboro University, in Erie Pennsylvania. It offers instruction in mindfulness techniques, discussion groups, and master classes, with founding teacher Madeline Bruser and senior teachers of the Institute, culminating in a final concert. The program has attracted musicians from across the US, Canada, Iceland, Kosovo, Kenya, the Netherlands, Italy, and Israel, including current students and graduates of the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Yale University, and the San Francisco Conservatory.
To musicians who want more confidence in performance:
No matter how much we prepare for a performance, when the moment comes to step into the light onstage, we may lack confidence and fail to shine our brightest. Passages we’ve practiced hard may even fall apart, and we may not know why, or how to do better the next time. We may wonder how some musicians rise to the occasion and radiate confidence in performance—how that scary moment in the spotlight brings out their very best.
We try many things to achieve confidence in performance. We push ourselves to practice extra hours. We repeat tough passages countless times in a joyless, desperate way to gain technical security. We give ourselves energetic pep talks backstage. Or we take pills before going onstage to slow down our racing heart and to prevent our hands from shaking.
The problem in each of these approaches is that we are run by fear. It is fear and desperation that drive us to overexert, to over-think, or to cover up our symptoms with medication. And as long as we approach performing in this way, we remain victims of our fear instead of learning to rise above it and master it. We never find out how proud and powerful we could really be in performance.
To master our fear we need to strengthen our presence of mind—to free our mind of distraction and judgment. Then we can use our mind to focus on what really matters: our connection with our instrument, with the music, and with ourselves—with our deepest musical feelings and our innermost motivation to perform. When our mind is fully engaged with all of these things, we can then fully engage with our audience. We can fulfill our musical gift by giving it to others in performance.
You can strengthen your presence of mind through a practice called mindfulness. Mindfulness means noticing what’s happening in the present moment—both within you and around you. It includes observing the details of how you use your body with your instrument, and focusing intently on how sounds affect you. It also includes tuning into your body before you practice, and tuning into your deep intentions before you walk onstage. As you practice such awareness, your instrumental technique, your musicality, your stage presence, and your communicative power all grow stronger. In fact, they begin to outweigh your fear, and you become fearless in performance.
Since 1985, I’ve helped thousands of musicians fulfill more of their potential by using mindfulness techniques—in workshops, summer programs, and private sessions, and through my highly acclaimed book, The Art of Practicing. And since 2006, I’ve helped hundreds more musicians find powerful confidence onstage through my unique mindfulness technique, Performing Beyond Fear. You, too, can learn these techniques to bring out more of the music that is within you and to give it fearlessly to your audience.
Mindfulness, Confidence, and Performance is a weeklong summer program designed to guide you toward a new level of confidence in performance. In sessions with and without your instrument, you will learn simple, potent techniques that will transform your practicing and performing. The non-competitive environment, daily discussion groups, and ample practice time will enable you to absorb what you have learned and deepen your understanding.
Even if you’ve never done mindfulness techniques before, this program will give you the instruction and experience you need to apply these techniques directly to your preparation for performance. Whether you are a concert artist, an aspiring performer, or a dedicated teacher, Mindfulness, Confidence, and Performance will open your mind to surprising, new possibilities, and take you to a whole new level of confidence onstage.
I invite you to join us on the beautiful campus of Edinboro University for this exciting, transformative week next summer.
You’ll come away with
- A reliable method for practicing with more ease and focus
- The ability to play with more emotional intensity yet less physical tension
- Greater access to your deepest musical potential
- Stronger stage presence
- A potent three-step technique for unlocking your communicative power and transforming stage fright into confidence
TESTIMONIALS FROM PARTICIPANTS
“Before I came to the API summer program, I felt very alone with music, not understanding why I was so afraid about performing. The teaching and the wonderful community at this program helped me understand and appreciate myself, so I was able to put all of my own colors into the music. Madeline helped me realize that the connection between music and the player’s spirit is more important than playing perfectly, and I gave the best and happiest performance I’ve ever played on the closing concert. Since this program, I am able to continually come back to a really human and fulfilling way of practicing.”
See Young Song, flutist, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario
“When I enrolled in The Art of Practicing Institute’s summer program, I hoped to expunge a paralyzing performance anxiety that had plagued me for over a decade. The experience was transformative: I performed a solo work on the final concert without the aid of beta blockers — something I had not done for over four years — and the outcome was deeply satisfying. I fell in love with my cello all over again, finally reclaiming the music for myself!”
Ruth Ann Scanzillo, cellist, Erie, Pennsylvania
“It is nearly impossible to encapsulate the magnitude of the transformative experience of the API summer program with a few words. My body has begun to unwind years of physical muscle tension and clenching, and I am able to breathe more easily and freely. My musical soul has begun to resurface, and I am reconnecting to the joy of being a creative, artistic musician, both physically and emotionally. I am so incredibly grateful for Madeline’s profound wisdom, and for having had the privilege of personally experiencing her seemingly magical teaching expertise.”
Pamela Smitter, Principal Trumpet, West Michigan Symphony
“The summer institute really started the ball rolling for me. My voice continues to improve and my upper range has expanded. I didn’t think I’d get those notes back.”
Kathy Keegan, soprano, New York
“Practicing this way cuts to the core rather than working on the surface. I have much more ease in playing; tension is falling away.”
Cathy Baerg, flutist, Ottawa, Ontario, Faculty, Carleton University
“My confidence has soared.”
Martha Sanders Brandt, pianist, Florida
“I played tremendously better while practicing, with more energy and way less physical tension. . . . The world needs this.”
Roger Farwell, classical guitarist, Master of Music, Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore
“The Art of Practicing techniques are magical. I have better tone and a clarity that is beyond anything I ever imagined. I didn’t realize I could still make this kind of transformation and progress.”
Tang-mei Shieh, pianist, graduate of Manhattan School of Music
“Doing the Performing Beyond Fear exercise before each performance quite honestly transformed my experience of performing. I actually found myself enjoying the moment, and feeling like I could lose my ego to some extent and just ‘give’ the music to the audience.”
Felicity Corrie, cellist, Cambridge University Alumna
Madeline Bruser, pianist and author of The Art of Practicing, will be the Program Director. She will teach the main music workshops and will co-lead the discussion groups each day. Click here for her biography.
Teachers-in-Training will work with three selected non-performing participants in a second set of workshops:
You can enroll in the program at one of two levels of participation:
1. Master Class Participants
Six musicians will be selected by application to play or sing in the daily master classes. Each master class participant will have three individual sessions with Madeline Bruser, and all other participants will observe the sessions. In each session you will learn mindfulness techniques for playing with less tension and more expressive freedom and authenticity. Pianists will also receive some instruction in easeful posture and movement. All performing participants take part in the daily discussion groups, and will be invited to perform in a public concert on the last night of the program. The deadline for applying to be a Master Class Participant is May 1. Download the application form here.
2. General participants
As many as twenty musicians may enroll as general participants. General participants may be musicians at any level of study or expertise. If you choose this option, you will learn all of the techniques in the program and will have the opportunity to apply them in daily practicing with your instrument. You will also take part in the daily discussion groups, which will be led by Madeline Bruser.
Six of the general participants will be selected to participate in workshops with the Teachers-in-Training. These teachers all have significant prior experience with the techniques taught in the program. Each general participant who is selected to work with one of these teachers will receive guidance in two 45-minute sessions. If you are interested in working with one of these teachers, please e-mail the Program Director, Madeline Bruser, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Housing and Meals
Participants will stay on campus in dormitories, and meals will be served in the campus dining hall. Refrigerators are available in dormitories. Special diets can be accommodated by the dining hall with advance notice.
Traveling to Erie, Pennsylvania
Erie, Pennsylvania has an airport, train station, and bus station. For directions to Erie by car, plane, train, or bus, please contact the Administrative Director of the program, Daniel Burdick, at email@example.com.
Master Class Participants: $950, plus housing and meals. Although tuition covers only 50% of the program expenses, some scholarship assistance will be available for qualified applicants. Please indicate on your application if you will need a scholarship. We also strongly encourage participants to raise funds through gofundme.com
General Participants: $400
Housing and Meals Costs
Total housing and meals cost will be $450.
Dates and Times
The program will begin on Saturday evening July 21 at 8:00 pm. It will end after lunch on Saturday July 28.
If you have any questions about the program, please contact the Program Director, Madeline Bruser, at firstname.lastname@example.org.