Learn to be the calm in the storm

We live in a last-minute, frantic world. Much of the time we’re rushing from one thing to the next, trying desperately not to drop all the plates we are spinning. No wonder then that we are attracted to people who move calmly, act deliberately, and refuse to panic.

Calmness - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

It’s grounding to be around someone who seems to inherently know what they have control over, and what they do not – someone who works to manage what is within their realm, and leaves the rest to turn out as it will. After all, in any given situation or environment, there is very little we can actually control. We are in charge of our contributions and our reactions, but the outcome is almost entirely out of our hands.

The calm performer

Music is a journey, and the performer is the driver. Our job then, when we play, is to do our best to allow our audience to be swept away by what they hear, without fear that we will run them (or ourselves) into a brick wall.

It’s impossible to relax and be transported by music if we are nervous for the performer – constantly worried that they will crash and burn. It’s like trying to watch an amateur figure skater, all the while knowing that they don’t really know how to stick the landing on a triple turn. We’re too busy holding our breath, feeding off of their panic, to really enjoy the experience. They are not calm, and so we are not calm.

Preparation goes a long way toward creating a calm, confident performance. If you’ve successfully played a piece a hundred times in practice, you are much less anxious about pulling it off in front of an audience. Still, life is unpredictable. Things do not always turn out as we hope they will. The trick to remaining calm is to learn to manage your reactions when things go sideways.

Keep calm and carry on

Pause, breathe, and consider the next right step. Don’t allow yourself to be carried away by fear or impulsive reactions. The modern world seems to praise busyness. We wear our franticness like a badge of importance, constantly running around putting out fires as though it all depends on us. After a while, that attitude becomes habitual. But habits are just the result of repeated choices, and they can be changed.

Choose to remain calm in the face of all the noise, and you’ll be able to offer something to others that very few can – peace of mind.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Classic Jabber Ep. 35 “Understanding”

Classic Jabber
July 12, 2019

Some people demonstrate more understanding than others, but we seem to find people who are understanding as more attractive than those who are not! Why is that, and how do classical musicians come across in society? Click the link above to hear SPB in conversation with his friends and learn more about this.

Listen in on this excerpt from a live training with Stephen P Brown, conductor, composer, and founder of Concert University, an online coaching program dedicated to helping classical musicians build profitable performing careers.

Want to learn more? Check out Stephen’s next online presentation outlining 5 strategies you can implement today that successful classical musicians use to build a profitable performing career at.

Interested in receiving more content like this every day? Subscribe to my Youtube channel to receive daily coachings.

Perfectionism in Performance

As classical musicians, we are raised in an environment that not only encourages perfectionism but often, seems to demand it. A culture that picks apart everything we do, actively looking for things to pick apart. So, it’s no wonder that when we leave that space and move into the world of professional music, we are conditioned to not only notice every misstep but berate ourselves for it. Professionals aren’t allowed to make mistakes, right?

Even so, they happen all the time.

Perfectionism in Performance

Get a group of honest, professional musicians together, and the stories they can tell about humiliating public mistakes will make your hair curl. There’s the piccolo player who dropped two entire measures of a solo at a retirement party for the highest-ranking musician in the Marine Corp. Or the flutist whose electronic set up wouldn’t even turn on in front of hundreds of people.

Failure happens. Perfectionism is an expectation of the impossible.

The origins of perfectionism

Other than our training, which by nature, seeks perfect playing, where does this impossible expectation of perfection come from? No doubt, the ubiquitous availability of recordings plays a role.

By the time we hear a recording, it has been edited and mastered for hours. An engineer carefully splices together the very best parts of several different takes, and the result is, well, perfect. It’s easy to believe that what we are listening to is the record of people playing music in a room, instead of what it actually is – a collage of everyone’s best moments.

Recordings are wonderful for a lot of things. They are a particularly helpful tool for practice. But they are not live performances, and they don’t reflect the reality of live performance. A well-made recording is like a well-written essay – it’s been gone over with a fine-tooth comb, checked for grammar and intonation. A live performance, on the other hand, is a speech. It may be well-rehearsed, but it is happening in the moment, with all of the passion, and unpredictability that each moment holds.

Dealing with imperfection

So what happens if you mess up? How do you deal with it?

Well, first you have to accept it. It’s happened, without a time turner that allows you to go back and do it over, there’s nothing you can do. Beating yourself up doesn’t repair the past, it only ruins the present.

Remember, you win some, you learn some. Look at the mistake honestly and see if there’s a lesson in it. Do you need to practice a particular section? Do you need to develop a contingency plan for faulty equipment? Or is it just an anomaly – something so unusual that it’s likely to never crop up again?

Perfectionism is a fear of failure and a fear of the unknown. Like everything else in life, if we let the fear of failure stand in our way, we will never have authentic musical moments. Think about why you are performing. Think about what you are communicating through your music. Choose joy, and it will be the joy people remember.

If you would like to hear the live discussion about this topic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Classic Jabber Ep. 34 “Creativity”

Classic Jabber
July 12, 2019

Have you noticed that some people seem to be more creative than others, but we seem to find people who are creative as more attractive than those who are not! Why is that, and how do classical musicians come across in society? Click the link above to hear SPB in conversation with his friends and learn more about this.

 

Listen in on this excerpt from a live training with Stephen P Brown, conductor, composer, and founder of Concert University, an online coaching program dedicated to helping classical musicians build profitable performing careers.

Want to learn more? Check out Stephen’s next online presentation outlining 5 strategies you can implement today that successful classical musicians use to build a profitable performing career at.

Interested in receiving more content like this every day? Subscribe to my Youtube channel to receive daily coachings.

Develop and Display Confidence

Peruse the personal development shelves of any bookstore, and you’ll find dozens of books about how to increase your own confidence and inspire the confidence of others. We know why confidence is desirable for us (Who wouldn’t want to avoid the crushing pain of insecurity and fear?), but why is it attractive in others?

Confidence - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

As human beings, we have an innate need for connection and safety. Confident people can make us feel both, and that is why we are so drawn to them. We get nervous around people who are not confident about what they do. When others seem shaky and uncertain, we absorb that feeling, and it puts us on edge. This is particularly true when we watch someone perform.

A confident performer, regardless of whether he’s a musician or a figure skater, allows us to relax and enjoy the journey of emotion that’s being shared. An anxious performer, on the other hand, causes us to worry. Are we going to get the experience we came for? Are we going to have to participate in someone else’s embarrassment or disaster? It’s nearly impossible to connect with a performance like that.

Confidence vs. Arrogance

While confidence is attractive, arrogance is off-putting, and there’s a fine line between the two.

Confidence says, “I know who I am; I know what I can do. I’ve prepared my part well, and I am ready to do my best.”

Arrogance, on the other hand, says, “I know who everyone is. I know what everyone should do, and given the chance, I could do it better than they can.”

Interestingly, arrogant people – people intent on proving that they are better, more important, or more intelligent than the others around them – are generally the most insecure. When you are confident, you understand your place in the whole. You know the part you are to play and understand the importance of playing it well (whether in music or life).

When people insist on trying to insert themselves into other’s roles, it is because they don’t believe that the part they are supposed to play is valuable enough. Essentially, they aren’t sure that they matter. Unlike confident people, who value learning from others who are further along than they are, arrogant people are intimidated by better players. They blow themselves up, act as though they know everything to avoid being seen as “inferior.” They lack humility.

This lack of humility makes them unteachable. When you can’t be taught, you can’t improve.

Developing Confidence

As a musician, if someone asks you to play a C major scale, no doubt you feel 100% confident about your ability to do that. You’ve done it a million times. You are well prepared.

Preparation and exposure are great confidence builders. Classical musicians tend to have an abundance of confidence in some areas and a complete lack of it in others. You may be confident about performing a piece, but not confident talking to the audience or booking a show.

The best way to develop confidence in a new area is to practice. Isolate a specific skill, say, stage banter, and focus on doing that well until it begins to feel as simple as that C major scale.

Confidence is grown like a seed, little by little, but once it blossoms, it’s beautiful to behold.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.

Classic Jabber Ep. 33 “Inner Peace”

Classic Jabber
July 12, 2019

Have you noticed that some people seem to possess more inner peace than others, but we seem to find people who have found inner peace as more attractive than those who are not! Why is that, and how do classical musicians come across in society? Click the link above to hear SPB in conversation with his friends and learn more about this.

Do you struggle to be decisive? Find out why and learn how to change it!

Listen in on this excerpt from a live training with Stephen P Brown, conductor, composer, and founder of Concert University, an online coaching program dedicated to helping classical musicians build profitable performing careers.

Want to learn more? Check out Stephen’s next online presentation outlining 5 strategies you can implement today that successful classical musicians use to build a profitable performing career at http://spb.buzz/CUSPBonline.

Interested in receiving more content like this every day? Subscribe to my Youtube channel to receive daily coachings.

How to be a Supportive Person in a Competitive World

We’re all drawn to people who uplift, encourage, and actively help us achieve our dreams. After all, why spend time and energy on Negative Nellys and naysayers (except those well-meaning family members we just can’t avoid) when you can surround yourself with positive vibes that help you get stuff done?

But support is truly a giver’s gain concept: if you want supportive people in your life, you have to be a supportive person.

Support has become something of a buzzword. We talk about supporting ideas, supporting policies, supporting the arts, when what we really mean is we agree with or appreciate those things.  Truly being supportive means giving encouragement and actively giving help to someone who needs it. Support requires action, not just thought.

Supportive - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Break the Lack Mindset

As professional musicians, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that another player’s success is our failure. After all, if they get the job, that means we don’t get it right? How can you genuinely support someone else’s ambition if it seems to preclude your own success?

Here’s the truth: classical musicians (and classical music in general) face a lot of challenges, but other musicians are not one of them! True, we are all vying for the attention of the public, but what we are battling against is the distraction of modern life – Netflix, Candy Crush, and the host of other easy entertainments that consume the few free hours people have after working long hours and caring for families. It’s simply so easy to sit at home with mindless entertainment these days, and that makes getting people out the door to see live music a challenge.

Understand that a rising tide lifts all boats. If you can create a thriving culture of live entertainment by supporting other players, you too, benefit. Everyone benefits. It isn’t an either/or; it is an and/also.

Everyone has a different gift to give. Respect and support the gifts of others without falling prey to the idea that acknowledging their talent diminishes your own.

How to Show Support

Obviously, showing up to watch performances is supportive, but how else can you encourage and help fellow musicians and the other people in your life?

1. Be an active listener: This applies to every interaction you have and is a sure way to gain people’s trust and admiration. When you’re having a conversation with someone, slow down and listen to what they are saying. Don’t use their turn to just think of what you’re going to say next. Avoid generic responses, maintain eye contact, and ask questions. And please, please, put your phone away.

2. Offer advice only when asked. This one can be tricky, especially if you see something that could use improvement. Though it’s true that tough love can be a form of support, it’s generally better to focus on the positive. Offer encouragement by telling someone what you appreciated about their performance, what you thought they did particularly well. Be authentic, don’t lavish generic praise on a performance you thought was merely ok, but do look for good things to encourage.

If you are asked for advice, remain positive. Instead of, “That middle section was rough,” try something like, “The first movement was great! If you can work on putting the same emotion into the second movement, it will be brilliant.”

3. Don’t gossip. This should be a no-brainer, but sometimes our lesser angels get the better of us, especially if we’re still caught in the trap of competition. When someone shares something with you in confidence, keep it to yourself. This applies to struggles and victories alike. It’s impossible to feel supported by someone who is talking being your back.

4. Share the wealth. If you hear of opportunities that would benefit others, tell them! “But what if they get it, and I don’t?” By being generous with encouragement and information, you are exponentially increasing the odds that others will reciprocate. Next time they may tell you about an opportunity that is a perfect fit for your gifts.

5. Work on your building your own confidence. When you believe in your talents and value what you do, it becomes so much easier to offer support to other people.

This is part of our series on the characteristics of attractive people. If you would like to hear the live discussion about this characteristic, head on over to ClassicJabber.com now.

If you are ready to learn more about how to build a profitable, fulfilling career as a performing classical musician, check out Concert University, and the free webinar that outlines 5 strategies for success.