Sunday, October 11, 2009

On Performance

One of the things that came to mind in regards to the chapter on performance from the Music, The Brain and Ecstasy book, and that was mentioned in class in regards to the brain’s production of the beta wave in performance, is the Inner Game of Music. This is a book that was recommended to me by my vibes teacher at Berklee College of Music when I was doing Bachelor’s at a time when I couldn’t when I guess my brain must have been producing beta like there was no tomorrow.
The class, as well as book, have dealt with the subject of performance from the chemical point of view in regards to the brain; on the other hand, the Inner Game of Music, focuses on the same issues as anxiety in performance rather from a psychological point of view.
W. Timothy Gallwey, co-author of the book says: "It seems to me that the very essence of music is the expression of the self It needs a milieu that is conducive to reaching into one's source of creative, and that allows for freedom of expression. Just as the end product of the study of music is enjoyment, virtuosity, and inspiration the actual process of learning and teaching can yield the same quality of experience. it is my hope that readers of THE INNER GAME OF MUSIC will use this wealth of material to help them experience the joy of music to the fullest."
Another aspect that comes to mind in regards to the issue of performance anxiety is the fact, not mentioned in Jourdain’s book though, that performance anxiety is a western classical music issue exclusively. Not that this is relevant to the relationship between music and brain, but just an observation to keep in mind.

The Inner Game of Music is a book that deals with the issues of performance anxiety very effectively.
The performance equation The basic truth is that our performance of any task depends as much on the extent to which we interfere with our abilities as it does on those abilities themselves. This can be expressed as a formula: P = p - iIn this equation P refers to Performance, which we define as the result you achieve - what you actually wind up feeling, achieving and learning, Similarly, p stands for potential, defined as your innate ability -- what you are naturally capable of. And i means interference - you capacity to get in you own way. Most people try to improve their performance (P) by increasing their potential (p) through practicing and learning new skills. The Inner Game approach, on the other hand, is to reduce interference (i) at the same time that potential (p) is being trained -- and the result is that our actual performance comes closer to our true potential. (Page 23 and 24)
Self 1 and Self 2 If you think about it, the presence of that voice in your head implies that someone or something is talking (it calls itself 'I'), and someone or something else is doing the listening. Gallwey refers to the voice that's doing the talking as Self 1, and the person spoken to as Self 2. Self1 is our interference. It contains our concept about how things should be, our judgements and associations. It is particularly fond of the words 'should' and 'shouldn't', and often sees things in terms of what "could have been". Self 2 is the vast reservoir of potential within each one of us. It contains our natural talents and abilities, and is a virtually unlimited resource that we cab tap and develop. Left to its own devices, it performs with gracefulness and ease. (Page 28)
Relaxed concentration Inner Game techniques can reduce the effects of self-interference and guide us toward an ideal state of being. This state makes it easier for us to perform at our potential by rousing our interest, increasing our awareness and teaching us to discover and trust our built-in resources and abilities. It is a state in which we are alert, relaxed, responsive and focused. Gallwey refers to it as a state of 'relaxed concentration', and calls it the 'master skill' of the Inner Game. (Page 35)

1 comment:

Vasana said...

What do you mean by “performance anxiety is a western classical music issue exclusively?” When I was in Sri Lanka we went to performances of traditional Sri Lankan music. The concert took place in a concert hall (I don’t know if the use of a hall is a western influence, regardless western classical music is performed in a variety of venues). I imagine that the performers would have felt a rush of adrenaline similar to the one we experience. I don’t know what the attitude is towards performance is in other cultures and I’m very curious about how other cultures differ from ours. If you have a moment and are able to elaborate on this statement, I’d love to read to it.
The idea that we interfere with our own abilities is very interesting. It is often easy to develop false ideas that do not accurately reflect the world around us. These ideas impinge upon our ability to achieve our potential, because we think poorly of ourselves. Unfortunately, the goal of reducing interference is quite abstract. It reminds me in some ways of the Alexander Technique, which at a basic level suggests that we should not interfere with the natural freedom of our neck and back. I don’t find this type of philosophy very helpful. The idea of just letting go of my body is far to abstract for me to be able to do. The moment I let go I am aware of the release and I tense again. I find it easier to let go of mental ideas than physical states. From your description, the concepts of Self 1 and Self 2 seem concrete and accessible, lending credence to the abstract notion of interference.