Find Out What It Takes to Rock Beyonce-Style Confidence

It’s hard to ignore the stage presence and larger-than-life personalities of divas like Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Tina Turner.  They’ve certainly made a name for themselves, and this year on December 19th, VH1 will be celebrating these women at the VH1 Divas Celebrates Soul concert series.  The show will pay tribute to the “great cities of soul music,” recognize the impact soul music has had on the 21st century’s music and pop culture, and feature performances from the likes of Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, and Florence + The Machine.

As our own tribute to these fearless females, today we’re exploring how you can become a more confident performer – something that these divas radiate with each breath – courtesy of Bulletproof Musician (see also: our tips earlier this week for overcoming stage fright).  Learn how to strut your stuff and you’ll be sure to make a Beyonce-style impression at your next audition or performance.

First off, let’s discuss the misconceptions of self-confidence.

The good news is that confidence is something you can change – and that you actually have quite a bit of control over your level of self-confidence. This may come as something of a surprise to you, as there are many who believe that confidence is largely a character trait, that you either have it or you don’t. Others think that only success or positive feedback can build confidence, and that you can’t make mistakes or experience “failure” if you want to become more confident.

Well, it turns out that these are all just misconceptions. Many musicians suffer from a great deal of self-doubt and insecurities, despite great success.  So what do you have to do to become more confident, you ask?

Ready to be like Beyonce?

One of the keys to becoming a more confident performer is mastering your self-talk.

Self-talk is the term that psychologists use to describe that internal dialogue we all have with ourselves throughout the day. You know, the one that calls us clumsy when we stub our toe on the bedpost, or an absent-minded idiot when we get back from the grocery store and realize we’ve forgotten the one thing we went there for. Some of us talk out loud or mumble to ourselves, others keep it all inside, but we all have that voice inside our head that is often very difficult to turn off.

Mastering Self-Talk

Keep in mind that your subconscious mind is listening to everything that you say to yourself, and that it doesn’t have a filter. It will take in everything that you say, and over time, unconditionally accept the most consistent messages as reality – whether this is actually true or not.

The vast majority of the thoughts that your mind generates when you are under pressure are unhelpful. They are often irrelevant (“Hmm…I wonder what I should eat for dinner”), overly analytical (“Keep your thumb unclenched, fingers light, elbow around, shoulder down…”), or self-destructive (“Uh-oh, here comes that passage that I screwed up in rehearsals”).

If you can identify these thoughts, the next step is to create a self-talk log.  Pick a piece that you’re working on that’s particularly challenging, and record yourself performing it.  While playing, pay attention to anytime you have a thought – pause, and repeat it out loud so your audio recording captures it.  When you’re done, take note of all of the thoughts you had throughout your practice session.

How many of them were critical, unsupportive, irrelevant, distracting, and the type of remark that you would never say to a friend? Did you insult yourself or make personal attacks? Were you able to keep your mind rooted in the present, or did your thoughts linger on mistakes or even review past incidents when you’ve made that same mistake? Did your thoughts project into the future?

If you notice a pattern, it’s time to make a change.  From now on, each time you hear yourself engaging in negative self-talk, “overwrite” it with more supportive, constructive and self-supporting thoughts.  For example, instead of thinking “Why do I always rush that passage and mess it up? I’m such a screw-up!”, think  “Hey, take it easy. Even the best make mistakes too. Get refocused and move on. Plenty of time to figure out why this happened later.”  Even if the positive thoughts seem corny or fake, the idea is to come up with thoughts that help you feel more positively inside, and ultimately keep you moving towards success.

Follow these steps and your new-found confidence will help you with auditions, performances and more – in fact, it might be the most important facet of your success as a musician!

Readers: what strategies do you use to keep your confidence level up?  Do you practice these tips of monitoring your inner voice?

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Overcoming Stage Fright: 4 Important Steps

Boy with stage frightDo your palms sweat every time you get up in front of others to perform?  If you get nervous when all eyes are on you, you’re not alone.  Most musicians, at some point in their careers, have experienced stage fright or battled nerves.  But forget the age-old advice of imagining the audience in their underwear – here the steps to follow that really work for overcoming stage fright…

Step 1: Self-Assessment
Get to know yourself as a musician and as a performer.  For example…
– What are your capabilities and limitations as a performer?
– Ask yourself: “What am I really afraid of?” Worst-case scenario—you run off the stage and everyone laughs hysterically. That’s unlikely, and might give you perspective into the realities of what it is you are really afraid of.
– Try not to confuse self-assessment with self-criticism!

Step 2: Gradual Exposure and Preparation
– Look for opportunities for exposure to mild to moderate levels of stress that challenge but do not overwhelm your coping skills, such as visualization of the performance.
– Other examples: practice performances, dress rehearsals, taping yourself and playing back.
– Be thoroughly prepared. Nothing replaces adequate time spent in rehearsal and practice! (See also: How to REALLY Maximize Your Practice Time).

Step 3: During the Performance
– Rather than blocking out the audience, or seeing them in their underwear, try seeing them as allies who are generally supportive and want you to do well.
– Remember, most performers have to contend with anxiety – it comes with the territory. You’re in good company!
– Feelings of anxiety are natural, and can be used to your advantage.
– Act calmly, even if you feel nervous. The more you dwell on anxiety, the more you are likely to remain preoccupied with it.
– Try to overlook errors when you perform. Overall impressions are more important to the audience than note-perfect performances.
– Enjoy what you’ve accomplished! Others are more likely to enjoy it this way, too.

Step 4: After the Performance

– Temper external feedback with internal beliefs and expectations you have already established.
– Asking others for feedback without asking yourself first might be depriving yourself of a significant source of valid information about your performance: YOU.

View the full article, Coping With Music Performance Anxiety, here.

If your music goals involve overcoming stage fright and building your stage confidence, we hope these tips help you perform your best.  And if your nerves still get the best of you – don’t dwell on it afterward.  Celebrate your accomplishments, and keep working toward your goal!

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You might also like…
What’s Causing Your Stage Fright?
How to Bounce Back From a Bad Audition
All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Music Recitals

Music Lessons for Adults: It’s Never Too Late to Start!

guitar students

For adults with hectic schedules and limited free time, learning to play an instrument at this stage in their lives may seem like a pipe dream.  Sure, it would be fun to fulfill that childhood dream of learning to play the piano or jam on the guitar, but other priorities such as work or family commitments often prevent many adults from leaping into music lessons with the same enthusiasm they might have felt at a younger age.

But if you have the passion and desire to play music, it’s never too late to get started with lessons; in fact, there are many positive benefits for adults who take music lessons, including the following:

–Music lessons help with job skills such as creative thinking, collaboration, social aptitude, expressive communication, and confidence.
–Music lessons provide a creative outlet that balances work life, family life, and personal time.
–Music lessons can help lower stress.
–Music lessons provide a way to be involved with others that share similar interests.
–Music lessons help seniors stay active, vibrant, and mentally sharp.

For adult students who are just beginning their musical journey, the process of learning to sing or play an instrument can certainly be daunting.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Keep expectations realistic. Regardless of whether or not you have ever played an instrument before, there will be a learning curve.  Don’t expect to play like a pro straight away; instead, set realistic goals of milestones you’d like to achieve in the next week, month, and so on.  Track your progress and make the necessary adjustments to ensure you are on track to meeting your goals.

Trust your teacher. Your teacher is there to help you reach your goals.  More than likely, this person is a professional with many years of experience – take advantage of the fact that you are working with someone who is an expert at playing their instrument, and ask for their advice.  In turn, your teacher should take the time to learn about you as a student, identifying your strengths and weaknesses and then tailoring each lesson to your needs.

Success takes time. We’ve all heard the phrase “practice makes perfect,” and if you want to master your instrument, you need to practice.  This time commitment can be a deterrent for those with busy schedules, but you can still learn an instrument even if you don’t have much time to practice – just expect the process to take longer and your progress to be slower.  As long as you stay focused and motivated, you will be able to achieve your goals.

TakeLessons offers music lessons for adults and students of all ages.
Want to learn more? You might also like…
5 Key Benefits of Taking Music Lessons as an Adult
Is Your 9-to-5 Draining Your Creativity?
Excel at Music By Acting Like a Child