Mental checklist

Mental checklists are constantly running through my head, especially before a concert. Music, check….horn, check…..reeds, check….etc. But I never thought about having a mental checklist for playing. Don Greene talks about ‘centering’, and about picking a word…a positive one….and attaching it to that piece of music, or excerpt, and using it to fight away whatever is getting in your way of playing. Fighting away the nerves, frustration and anxiety that makes playing in front of people so difficult.  Even if you are high energy, and highly tolerant of your nerves, that energy can get in the way of the task at hand, and you get so excited you can’t hold on any longer.  I’m usually low key before the concert starts.  But then, about the middle of the first piece, I begin to lose focus.  I begin to think about all the people in the audience, and all the people around me, and my musician ADD kicks in….and all hell breaks loose in my head.  But this focus word…something to attach my brain onto, really helps, and it’s becoming more and more useful.  Even in my excerpts and such.  I highly recommend the books if anyone is interested. It seems a little gimmicky at first, but it really is useful, and I know a lot of professional musicians using it.  It becomes a checklist I can attach my brain to….focus, breathe, flow….or whatever the path I chose for that piece was.  I have a much more positive outlook on my playing after all this.  🙂


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