2011 MTNA Conference – Keynote Address by Bill Moore: Performing Your Best When It Counts

Short video clips of musicians and other entertainers discussing their successful performance experiences was the introduction to the keynote address by Bill Moore, author of Playing Your Best When It Counts.

What are the images, sensations, and feelings that come to mind when you think about your best performance? After encouraging us to contemplate this question, Mr. Moore had us turn to the person next to us and share the images that came to mind. Then he turned the question and asked how easy it would be for us to describe an image of our worst performance. Isn’t it ironic how easily and vividly we can describe our worst experiences, but our vocabulary is lacking when we attempt to describe our best performance?

Mr. Moore’s goal today is to give us three tools to help draw out of students the performance capabilities that are already within them. Three mental performance skills that are part of that picture are the least understood and developed of the performance equation.

“Athletes are players who practice. Musicians are practicers who play.” Having worked with athletes for 20 years, this statement really hit him. He was shocked during his first time working with musicians to discover that they rarely performed, especially in light of the vast number of hours spent practicing. This has huge implications not only for what you practice, but for how you practice. The mental skills needed to put into the system are not the same mental skills needed to get it out. Skill acquisition requires different mental skills than skill performance.

Practice Mindset
Self-instruction
Self-monitoring
Analyzing cause and effect

This is all well and good until you get to performance. But when you get in a performance setting, any of these three characteristics, if employed at that point, will kill you!

Performance Mindset
Courage – training your will to adapt
Trust – the performance skill; let go of control
Acceptance – proceeding or experiencing something without judgment as to good or bad, right or wrong

If these skills are not practiced during practice, they will not show up in performance. The performance mindset is not a personality trait. Anybody can learn and develop the performance mindset. Mr. Moore has worked with a number of different types of personalities to get there. Some are more difficult than others, but all can make it! He shared an analogy of a girls’ tennis team who are incredibly sweet and kind in real life, but on the court will tear you apart. You can develop a performer self that is different than who you are.

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