Monday, May 9, 2011

Performance Development: Positive Thoughts

Performance Development: Positive Thoughts
[Originally Posted on December 2, 2010 by Richard Matteson]


One often overlooked factor of performance development is the role of positive thoughts and having a positive outlook. In this blog we’re going to look at “thoughts that are put in the subconscious mind” and the “conscious competence” theory.

Here are some critical areas for positive thoughts:

1) The thoughts that are put in the subconscious mind.
2) The thoughts we think about our audience
3) The thoughts we think about ourselves
4) The thoughts we think about our performance situation. Aaron Shearer called them “concerns.”
5) The thoughts about “sharing music.”

To better understand 1) The thoughts that are put in the subconscious mind we can look at Maslow’s “conscious competence theory” also called for the “Four Stages of Learning.”

The Four Stages:

1) Unconscious Incompetence: You don’t understand or know how to do something and you don’t know that you don’t understand. It’s been called “ignorant bliss.”

2) Conscious Incompetence: You don’t understand or know how to do something, but now you realize that you don’t know how to do it. This is “awakening or awareness” stage.

3) Conscious Competence: You understand or know how to do something. To do this requires a great deal of conscious concentration.

4) Unconscious Competence: You have practiced the skill until it becomes “second nature” and can be performed easily without concentrating too deeply. The skill is now part of the subconscious mind.

Let’s look at an example, say, tying your shoelaces. When you were very young you didn’t know you needed to tie your shoe laces (Unconscious Incompetence). After you tripped on your shoelace your mother told you needed to be able to tie your shoelaces (Conscious Incompetence). You learned to tie your shoelaces and with great difficulty and could tie them (Conscious Competence). After tying them hundreds of times you no longer needed to think about how to tie them- you just automatically did it (Unconscious Competence).

We can see by this process, information about playing the guitar or any instrument is stored in the subconscious and gradually we become “unconsciously competent” with certain musical skills.

What is less obvious is the role of the subconscious mind accepting positive thoughts and having these thoughts become “unconsciously competent.”

If you understand that your goal is to “share music” with other people, it takes repeated effort to have this goal part of the subconscious mind and become “unconsciously competent.” It just doesn’t happen because you think about it once or twice.

As a performer you want to “feel good” about performing. The thoughts of enjoyment and excitement about performing need to reach the “unconsciously competent” level. You want to have positive thoughts about yourself and your performance experience.

Telling yourself this (I love playing the guitar or I love performing for people or I love my audience) consciously while you are performing is necessary but it won’t work until it’s reached and is part of the subconscious.

Learn to use positive thoughts until they become “unconsciously competent” and you will become “unconsciously competent” as a performer.

More to come———–

Richard Matteson

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