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.

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.

 

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.

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.

Classic Jabber Ep. 31 “Calmness”

Classic Jabber
June 7, 2019

Have you noticed that some people are calmer than others, but we seem to find people who are calm 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.

Classic Jabber Ep. 29 “Supportive”

Classic Jabber
June 7, 2019

Some people can be more supportive than others, but we seem to find people who are supportive 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.

Can You Be Trusted?

Music is a uniquely personal business. It is the language of emotion, and in order to communicate in this language, we require that other people participate. We need an audience, and very often, we also need fellow musicians. The whole thing is built on relationships, and there are few things as important to relationships as trust.

Trustworthiness - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

Professional Trustworthiness

In a professional context, being trustworthy means being reliable. Doing what you say you will do, showing up on time, knowing your part so that rehearsal doesn’t have to stop while you get up to speed. Handle yourself and your emotions with integrity. Don’t fly off the handle when criticized or corrected.

Garnering trust doesn’t require being perfect; it just requires being honest and upfront about what you can do and then following through. The old adage, “under promise and over deliver,” is very good advice for building trust. 

It’s much easier to make plans with trustworthy people, and the only way to get things done is to make plans. It doesn’t take much sand in the gears to throw everything off. So, hold up your end – do what you say you will do and do it with quality.

Personal Trustworthiness

At its heart, trust is about honesty and truthfulness.

The music business can be challenging, and it can make a lot of performers desperate. There is often a mistaken feeling of lack, an idea that there are only a limited number of opportunities, and it’s every man for himself.

This isn’t true, and acting as if it is, is a sure way to lose the trust of everyone around you. Trustworthy people don’t betray others or stab them in the back in pursuit of success. As a result, people flock to trustworthy people. They build real relationships and connections – both of which are critical in an emotion dependent field like music.

The Trustworthy Performer

Finally, to build relationships and rapport with your audience, they must be able to trust you. When you get in a taxi in an unfamiliar city, you trust that the driver knows the way around. Similarly, your audience has to trust that you know your way through the emotional journey that you’re taking with them.

It’s okay to take risks and be playful – it’s wonderful, actually – but you must be certain that what you are going to do is going to work. It doesn’t have to be 100% perfect (in fact, your audience probably won’t notice if it isn’t) but you do have to arrive where you told them you were going to go. You have to provide the experience that they expect you to deliver. Like our taxi driver, it’s okay to take a trip down a scenic back road, but it’s not okay to end up out of gas in a dangerous neighborhood.

Ultimately, there is an element of trustworthiness that is out of your hands. You can act in a trustworthy way, but being deemed trustworthy is in the eye of the beholder.

No worries. Consistently show the audience that you are enjoying yourself. Display the joy and pleasure of the performance without anxiety. Stay calm, unharried, and confident, and your audience will trust that you will deliver them exactly where they want to go.

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.

Responsibleness

When we talk about responsibility, we usually think of things we have to do in order to avoid being irresponsible. Take care of our things. Show up on time. Responsibleness doesn’t automatically spring to mind as an attractive characteristic, but it’s opposite, irresponsibility is universally unattractive.

As adults, one of the worst things we can be accused of is being an irresponsible person. It’s easy to come up with a list of things that irresponsible people do: show up late, or not at all, neglect their finances, take poor care of their belongings, or worse yet, other people’s belongings. But what does it actually mean to be responsible?

Responsibleness - A Characteristic of Attractiveness

The Buck Stops Here

There are a bunch of definitions for responsible, but for our purposes, we’ll use this one from the Oxford English Dictionary: being the primary cause of something so able to be blamed or credited for it. In other words, it goes beyond just doing what you say you’ll do. It means taking ownership and being accountable.

Of course, there is a difference between taking ownership and usurping authority. No one is the boss of everything. Very often, especially if you play in large ensembles under a music director, you are under the authority of someone else.

Even so, there is always something you can take ownership of – your own performance, the creative choices you make, the direction of your career. Being responsible means stepping up and letting the appropriate buck stop with you.

What Are You Responsible For?

As adults, we are all responsible for all the things that make our lives run smoothly. We’re responsible for paying our bills, feeding ourselves and our families, remembering to get the oil changed in the car before the engine blows up.

As classical musicians, we can add to this list showing up on time, knowing our pieces, getting promotional materials where they need to be. The list goes on.  But more than anything, we are responsible for delivering the outcome our audience has paid us to deliver.

As a performer, you are accountable not just to the director or the venue owner, but first and foremost to your audience. It is a fundamental principle of success that we will only achieve our goals when we help others achieve theirs. So what is your audience’s goal? Why have they come to see you perform? Are they there to relax? To get pumped up? To escape?

You must take ownership of the experience that you provide your audience, and do your best to ensure it is meeting their goals. That is being a responsible performer.

Sometimes you’ll get it just right, and you get the credit that comes with that. Sometimes you won’t. You win some; you learn some. Responsibleness requires looking at those misses honestly, without blaming it on someone else, and figuring out what the lesson is and how to do better next time.

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.