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7 Pointers for Performance Anxiety

Posted by Jessica Tobacman on

Performance anxiety is somewhat common. Here are some pointers for dealing with this aspect of being a musician:

1. Practice as if you were performing, including starting each piece the best way possible several times in a row.

2. Practice with relaxed concentration. Figure out where you tense up when you perform, and address it when you rehearse. Practice in front of a mirror, and notice whether your shoulders rise. If you’re singing, and you can see your bottom row of teeth, practice squatting and keeping your back straight while singing, to build up back muscles and rid your tongue of tension. Drop your jaw while rubbing the area in front of your ears and sighing on an “ah” to release tension there.

3. To perform at your best, it helps to focus on one element at a time, such as keeping the musical line flowing, or imagining singing each syllable in front of the previous one.

4. If singing, think about the meaning of the text. Speak the text in advance and notice which syllables and words you emphasize, and replicate this as much as possible.

5. Before you begin, mentally rehearse performing a piece with correct rhythms, contrasting dynamics, accents, staccato or legato where indicated.

6. If possible, get at least one positive person in your life to come to your show.

7. Keep in mind that your audience wants you to succeed. They want to be elevated and transported to the world you’re creating with your music.

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Your brain on music

Posted by Jessica Tobacman on

Earlier this year, researchers at MIT came up with a new tool for looking at the brain and discovered that music has its own neural pathways, separate from the ones for speech. “Why do we have music?” Dr. Kanwisher said in an interview. “Why do we enjoy it so much and want to dance when we hear it? How early in development can we see this sensitivity to music, and is it tunable with experience? These are the really cool first-order questions we can begin to address.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/09/science/new-ways-into-the-brains-music-room.html?_r=0

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Playing music helps us process speech

Posted by Jessica Tobacman on

“It goes back to pitch, timing and timbre. Kraus argues that learning music improves the brain’s ability to process all three, which helps kids pick up language, too. Consonants and vowels become clearer, and the brain can make sense of them more quickly.”

For more information, check out this article from NPR: http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/09/10/343681493/this-is-your-brain-this-is-your-brain-on-music.