Do you ever feel like something is in your way, preventing you from being the musician you’re meant to be? From feeling really free and confident as an artist and performer?
No matter how much we love music or how hard we practice, we’ve all experienced tension, self-doubt, and anxiety about performing. Maybe passages we’ve worked on for months somehow fall apart in front of an audience, or maybe we simply fail to shine our brightest. We might wonder how some musicians just seem to rise to the occasion and radiate confidence onstage—how that scary moment in the spotlight seems to bring out their very best.
We try many things to achieve confidence in performance. We push ourselves to practice excessively, till we start to feel more stressed-out than musical. We repeat tough passages countless times without enjoying them because we think it will make us technically secure. We imitate someone else’s energetic stride and big smile onstage, trying to come across more confident than we really feel. And some of us take pills before performing because we don’t think we can play well enough without them to make the grade.
The problem in each of these approaches is that we’re run by fear. We’re afraid we won’t live up to our own expectations and that we’ll be a failure as a musician – unable to win the audition, or to get the gig or concert we want, when so many other people are competing for the same things. And as long as we approach performing in this fearful way, we stay small – we remain victims of our fear instead of learning how to rise above it and master it. We never find out how much we could actually trust ourselves or how proud and powerful we could really be in performance.
But we can master our fear – if we have two important things:
The first important thing is human support – a teacher who can guide us gently and clearly through the process of preparing for performance, along with a supportive community of like-minded musicians who appreciate the challenge of making music to our full capacity. In a welcoming community of musicians who believe that collaboration is more important than competition – where we find out that others share our fears, doubts, and confusion, and that they actually want us to succeed – we have a safe place where we can relax and grow.
The second important thing we need is strong presence of mind. That means focusing on what we’re doing instead of getting caught up in distraction or in judging ourselves while we’re practicing. When we’re not consumed by distraction and self-judgment, we can 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 develop such presence of mind through a practice called mindfulness. You may have heard the word, but what does it actually mean? Mindfulness means noticing what’s happening in the present moment – both within you and around you. It includes really zoning in on the details of how you use your body with your instrument, and on how each sound affects you inside. 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 book, The Art of Practicing. And since 2006, I’ve helped hundreds more musicians find powerful confidence onstage through my unique mindfulness technique, the Performing Beyond Fear exercise. You can learn these techniques too, to bring out more of the music that’s within you and to give it fearlessly to your audience.
The new Art of Practicing Institute (API) Online Video Groups are designed to gently and clearly guide you toward a new level of confidence in performance, in a supportive, welcoming community of like-minded musicians, including members of our faculty. Ww meet twice a month for 90 minutes, and each session includes a short period of mindfulness practice, a group discussion, and a 45-minute master class session with me for one of the participants. In between sessions, we stay connected with each other through a secret Facebook group where you can share experiences and ask questions of other group members. The group fosters a non-competitive environment in which to relax, open up, and explore new ideas that will transform your practicing and performing.
Even if you’ve never done mindfulness techniques before, these groups will give you experience that can help you apply these techniques directly to your practicing and performing. Whether you’re a concert artist, an aspiring performer, or a dedicated teacher, the API Online Video Groups will open your mind to surprising, new possibilities, and take you toward a new level of confidence as a musician.
We have a limited number of spaces open. I invite you to apply.
From an API participant:
“It is nearly impossible to encapsulate the magnitude of the transformative experience of the API summer program. Madeline and her assistants, along with the other participants in the program, were profoundly intuitive, kind, brilliantly insightful, and artfully skilled in connecting us all together, each of us drawing on the others for various insights and support. My body has begun to unwind years of physical muscle tension and clenching, and I feel space inside my own skin somehow. I am able to breathe more easily and freely, and my musical soul, which for several years has been compressed inside of so much tension and difficult negative energy, has begun to resurface. 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.”
Principal Trumpet, West Michigan Symphony
Here’s more info:
These groups will give you
- 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.
How many video groups will there be? What will happen in them?
The Basic Group will meet twice a month for 90 minutes, and each session will include 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation or the Performing Beyond Fear exercise (with brief instruction), group discussion, and a 45-minute master class with me for one of the participants. In between sessions, group members can stay in touch through a secret Facebook group, where you can share experiences and ask questions. All sessions will be recorded, so if you miss a session you can view the recording.
The Premium Group, with a maximum of 3 participants, will also meet twice a month for 90 minutes, and all Premium members can also participate in the Basic Group. In these more intimate Premium Group sessions, participants will each work with me at their instrument once a month, and the work and discussions can be more personal and in-depth. In addition to mindfulness meditation and the Performing Beyond Fear exercise, participants will also practice Focusing – a mindfulness practice in which you explore your inner bodily experience of emotional energies. This group will also have its own secret Facebook group to stay connected between sessions, and all sessions will be recorded for later viewing.
What will the Basic Group cost? What will I get for that price?
The Basic Group will cost $50 per month, and includes the following:
- Brief practice of mindfulness meditation and the Performing Beyond Fear exercise (brief instruction included)
- Discussion with a maximum of 12 participants, plus our faculty
- The opportunity to occasionally work with me in one of the master class sessions.
- Membership in the group’s secret Facebook group, where you can share experiences and ask questions of each other between sessions.
- Access to recordings of each session
What will the Premium Group cost? What will I get for that price?
The Premium Group will cost $145 per month, and includes the following:
- Participation in the Basic Group
- The practice of Mindful Focusing, in addition to mindfulness meditation and the Performing Beyond Fear exercise
- Discussion in a more intimate group with a maximum of 3 participants and myself, allowing more personal and in-depth conversation
- The opportunity to work with me at your instrument once a month
- Membership in this group’s secret Facebook group, where you can share experiences and ask each other questions between sessions
- Access to recordings of each session
How do I know which group is for me?
The Basic Group is for you if
- You’re curious to try a new approach to practicing and performing
- You’ve heard about API and would like to experience it a little
- You want the community support – both live and online – of other musicians who are willing to explore practice and performance on a new level
- You’ve already participated in API programs or lessons and would like to continue the experience.
- You like the idea of occasionally working on your playing or singing in a master class setting, or you want to learn through observing others in that setting
The Premium Group is for you if
- You’re ready to work more often and in depth with the API approach
- You like the idea of sharing personal challenges and breakthroughs with one or two other committed people with whom you can explore all the musical and emotional facets of your playing or singing
- You want to explore specific, current issues in your playing or singing in each monthly working session with your instrument
- You’re performing professionally or oriented toward that goal
- You’re a teacher of professionally-oriented performers or amateurs, and you want to deepen your own understanding for their benefit as well as your own
When will the groups meet?
The Basic Group will meet two Thursdays each month, starting on September 15 at 1:00 PM Eastern Time. You can start then, or at a later date.
Early 2017 dates are as follows:
January 5 and 19
February 2 and 16
March 2 and 23 (note 3 week gap)
April 6 and 20
The Premium Group meeting times are TBA and based upon the availability of the 3 participants.
Do I need any special equipment to be in the group?
To get the best audio and video quality, please purchase one of the following:
If you are not using a Mac computer from mid to late 2013 or later, please purchase a Cat-6 ethernet cable, instead of Wi-Fi, to connect your modem to your computer. This can be ordered online for about $15 at Walmart or Best Buy. Be sure to get one of the Cat-6 cables, not a Cat-5 or 5e. You’ll see a selection of cable lengths, up to 100 feet. Select a length that works for your set-up.
If you are using a Mac computer from mid to late 2013, those no longer have ethernet ports. You will need to purchase an adaptor. There are two kinds: USB to Ethernet and Lightning to Ethernet cables. The latter is the faster and probably more desirable. A lightning to ethernet adaptor can be purchased at http://www.staples.com/Apple-Thunderbolt-to-Gigabit-Ethernet-Adapter/product_164135?cid=PS:GooglePLAs:164135&ci_src=17588969&ci_sku=164135&KPID=164135&gclid=CL2qmJzsgM8CFYcehgodfygBbg
If you are playing or singing in one of the sessions, please purchase a USB microphone (which plugs into the USB port on your computer) so that everyone can hear you well. We could hear you without it, if you just use the built-in mic on your computer. But a USB mic will make a difference. Prices of the top 10 brands start at $39 at Wire Realm
- The credit or debit card you use to pay for this group will be automatically billed monthly, according to the first date you use it for your payment.
- You can participate live in as many sessions as you are able to, and you may also watch the video recordings of any sessions you have paid for.
- After the first three scheduled sessions, you are responsible for each month’s payment, and sessions cannot be refunded.
- If you withdraw from your particular group (Basic or Premium) within its first three scheduled sessions, payments you have made for any sessions you have not participated in, or for which you have not already been sent the video, can be refunded.
- The deadline for withdrawing from your particular group is midnight Eastern Time on the day after the last session you have paid for.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have about the groups – including what will happen in them and which group is for you. We want everyone to feel they belong – that you’re part of our community and that you have the best possible experience.
If you feel ready to join us, we’re excited to include you.