Performance Success Profile, Take Two

After cleaning out files the other day, I discovered a performance success survey that I took in 2002. This was a bad time for me, performance-wise. Although I should’ve been at the top of my game, vocally, I was having a lot of performance anxiety that was really holding me back. And my scores on the survey reflected the areas where I was having the most difficulty. I posted about this the other day.

My primary issues back then were focus, and, to a lesser extent, self-confidence.

I went to take the test again. The website has been tweaked a bit – it had been dongreene.com, after the author of the book Performance Success. It is now winningonstage.com, “dedicated to performing artists striving for excellence.” There are a variety of tools dedicated to achieving this goal, and the quiz that I took all those years ago was on there, linked to the book. So I took the test again. I paid for it this time (maybe I could’ve found the code in the book and gotten it for free, but I figured I could afford the $19). I wanted to see if I’ve improved.

I’m not sure if the test was exactly the same as it was back then, but I took it and I’m pleased to say that I scored much better than back then. My high scores (70+) were in:

  1. Determination (81)
  2. Mental Outlook (70)
  3. Emotional Approach (80)
  4. Resilience (81)

I didn’t really have any low scores (low was below 20-44). The areas that were in the mid-range were:

  1. Poise (68)
  2. Controlling Attention (63)
  3. Concentration (56)

The latter two are still related to focus. Controlling attention is a question of mental quiet. While I could focus on an object and not get distracted, that little nagging voice (which has an accent – I can’t imagine why) still wants to say, “You’re not doing this right. Oops, that was wrong.” As far as concentrating, my presence and intensity of focus were much higher but the duration of focus (SQUIRREL!) was less so. Probably because of said nagging voice.

Is this because I’m a Gemini? Do I have adult ADHD? What can I do about this? According to the profile, I should go back and review pp. 79-85 in Performance Success.

And I probably will, later today. But first….

Pomodoro Technique

I’m working on becoming more productive. This summer has been a particularly terrific one for me – I learned 6 new pieces. Well, actually 3, but they were in two different languages. One set was in English, the second in Irish Gaelic, in which I’ve never sung before. I organized my practice time well, but I think I could do better. 
Today I read about the Pomodoro Technique, which was named after a Pomodoro Timer used by the creator to keep track of time. 
There are six steps in the original technique, found in this article in Lifehacker:
  1. Decide on the task to be done.
  2. Set the pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
  3. Work on the task.
  4. End work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
  5. If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 2.
  6. After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.
The stages of planning, tracking, recording, processing and visualizing are fundamental to the technique. In the planning phase, tasks are prioritized by recording them in a “To Do Today” list. This enables users to estimate the effort tasks require. As pomodoros are completed, they are recorded, adding to a sense of accomplishment and providing raw data for subsequent self-observation and improvement.
So, how can we use this for practicing? And do you need a timer shaped like a tomato? 
We all have timers. On our phone, on the microwave, everywhere. Maybe you don’t have 25 minutes in a row. Maybe you have ten minutes to do vocalises. Set the timer for ten minutes. Then do what else you need to do. Then go back and work on one song, and really focus on it for another ten minutes.
Another great source for time management, specifically for singers, is a podcast by a friend of mine, Megan Ihnen. It’s called Studio Class. The episode I listened to today was about “Diva Metrics,” and one of the things that really struck me was the idea of the Ten Minute Meeting. (Podcast also available on iTunes.)
Check it out and see what works for you. I’m going to start with the Ten Minute Meeting tomorrow morning and then do things later with the Pomodoro Technique.

There’s a lot to do before the fall semester begins! (Studio policies come to mind first!)