Saturday, March 17, 2012

Motivation for Performance

Just found this post on a blog new to me and left the following comment:

Really like this post because I’ve thought about these same issues as a music therapist from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective. The lamas say our motivations deeply color our behavior and that being motivated by “self-cherishing ego”, as opposed to our “neutral” ego, can lead to unwelcome outcomes.

Another Buddhist mind tool is simply observing our behavior in a non-reactive way like your, “just being aware of our thought processes”. That pre-performance diary is a great real world application of that.

Here's the paragraph from the post talking about the pre-performance diary:

In another study with college music majors, two researchers asked their participants to complete “diary” before 15 performances during a school year (Sadler & Miller, 2010). For each entry, always done within an hour before performing, they described their thoughts and feelings heading into their performance. Over the course of the 15 performances, there was a significant decrease in performance anxiety reported by the music students. And note, these musicians were not directed to use any particular strategy to combat stage fright; they simply took note of what they were thinking and feeling. It would seem that even some basic self-awareness can have a therapeutic effect.

The blog is by Dr. Robert Woody, a professor of music education and music psychology and is called Being Musical. Being Human.


  1. I haven't been able to find the report of the original Sadler & Miller study online, but as described in Robert Woody's blog, there's no indication that there was any control group who were not asked to record their feelings prior to a performance.

    You need a control group so that you have a means of checking whether the thing that you are varying is actually having an effect.

    In this particular instance, without a control group, you can't tell whether recording feelings is having the effect of reducing performance anxiety, or whether the reduction is simply a result of getting used to performing though having 15 performances in a fairly short space of time.

    With a control group, you might be able to tell whether there is a difference in effect on performance anxiety between recording feelings and not recording feelings.

  2. Jonathan - Excellent point. My enthusiasm for mindfulness led me to being unmindful.