I know this sounds like some sort of yoga hippy tag line but hear me out!
The following thought occurred to me recently while practicing:
As performers we must be fully invested in every moment. Stay present in exactly the task at hand or mistakes and thoughts from the past will disrupt your future.
Staying present on stage is so hard!
I find that getting caught up in the good OR bad while performing often has deleterious effects. If I catch myself thinking ‘Wow! That’s the best I’ve ever played that run!’ or ‘Oh No! Here comes that part I always screw up!’ chances are I will either miss the section I was just fretting about, OR blinded by my relief from successful execution of passagework I will be distracted and make a mistake somewhere else.
There is so much to think about and keep track of when you are onstage – and not just musically speaking! It is hard to keep thoughts quiet, calm and organized.
My performance mantra is THINK RATIONAL THOUGHTS. This is also my practice room mantra as well. One must practice thinking rational thoughts.
I try my best to focus on the things within my control. How tight my bow is, where my contact point is, what position I am playing in or shifting to. If I focus on the HOW of the task at hand; it helps me stay completely present. Instead of thinking “AAAHHHHHHH!!! I hope I hit all of the notes!” I turn my thoughts towards a calm checklist of things that must be taken care of in that moment; inhale, shift to 6th position, move contact point, exhale, etc. In this way I have no mental time or space to worry about what went right or wrong in previous seconds, minutes, phrases or sections. It is too late.
You have to let everything that has already happened go. If I want to, I can think about it later when I am back in the practice room reflecting on how to improve for the next performance.
Performance, when done right, can often resemble a moving meditation framed by sound and sonority. How beautiful is that!? Take your yoga practice onstage with you! Set your Drishti on the performance at hand. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results.