How to find the courage

How can we, in performance, access our best? It’s a question of how to find the courage to bring our full selves to performances.

Here are three favorite passages from Madeline Bruser’s excellent The Art of Practicing, that speak to this question:


On our inner demons

“The intimacy of making music for others necessitates an intimacy with ourselves, a willingness to open up and experience ourselves in depth. As we approach the moment of performance, we often find ourselves grappling with negative forces within us that go beyond simple self-doubt.

To one degree or another, we each have our private inner demons that intimidate us at crucial moments. Some performers can relax and let go on stage in front of the public but panic at an audition. The knowledge that they are being judged brings deep-seated beliefs that they are inadequate and deserve to fail. Performing and auditioning bring our demons out of hiding and force us to confront them. We have a golden opportunity to exorcise these demons by seeing them clearly, becoming familiar with them, and working our way through the jungle they inhabit.” (The Art of Practicing pg. 232)


On courage

“Fear is energy. If you allow it to flow through you, you transform it into fearlessness. Bravery doesn’t mean that you don’t feel afraid. If it did, you’d have nothing to be brave about. It’s when you feel frightened of a situation but step into it anyway that you demonstrate courage. Each time you confront fear head on and let the adrenaline flood your body, you liberate the energy of fear and make it available for creative action. The man proposing marriage, the performer facing an audience, the new person in a group speaking up for the first time, all are courageous human beings. At the moment they take the next step by expressing their heart and mind, they transform fear into fearlessness. In doing so, they transformed themselves.” (The Art of Practicing pg. 228)


On being fully present

“Our jobs as performers is to accommodate everything that arises in our awareness—our extraneous thoughts, coughs from the audience, the lights, our fear, and our excitement, as well as the music. If we can do that, if we can give all the energy of the moment a perpetual green light to run through us as it will, an electric current passes between us and our listeners. We receive and transmit the vitality in that space at that moment.” (The Art of Practicing pg. 239)

These nuggets of wisdom are just samples of what you can gain from the book. I highly recommend The Art of Practicing and Madeline’s related programs.

And full disclosure, I write this not only as a fan of her book, but as her coach. Madeline and I have worked together for a number of years now and I’m impressed with her commitment to the art of teaching as well as the effective holistic approach that informs all of her programs.

Here’s to finding and harnessing your courage —

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well

PS: If you’re curious about receiving coaching from me, find the details here.

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