Pathways to Performance Mastery
The mission of the Pathways to Performance Mastery Program is to support and inspire musicians to actualize their gifts and to perform their best when it matters most by combining ancient wisdom with recent breakthroughs in mind–body medicine, neuroscience, depth and performance psychology, performance coaching, and specialized kinesiology. The program content is offered in a variety of different formats: individual coaching, a masterclass, a one-day retreat, a weekend immersion, or a semester course.
A powerful antidote to performance anxiety is to establish a daily routine of creating an emotional and embodied relationship to the music being practiced, rehearsed, or performed.
Pathways to Performance Mastery
What is it that prevents certain musicians from experiencing performance mastery? It is easy to blame it on performance anxiety and stress, but there are other reasons why a musician may not be demonstrating their fullest potential when it matters most. One explanation focuses on how the brain responds to stress based on patterns established in the learning process. There is a significant difference in how a person performs under pressure based on whether they have utilized a predominantly intellectual and analytical approach to the music making process (including to their practicing) or whether they have emphasized an emotional and personal connection to the learning and music making processes.
It is common to approach one’s improvement as a musician by first becoming proficient on one’s instrument (including the voice), and then working on one’s musical artistry. Learning the fundamentals of music without equally investing in the discovery and development of one’s musical artistry (i.e., what do I want to say?) carries with it an unfortunate downside. Years of left-brain, analytical practicing (i.e., always thinking about “how” to do something) creates a predisposition to default into that same type of brain function during important performances and auditions. When this default pattern is initiated, it makes a person more prone to self-analysis, judgment, negative self-talk, and distraction.
There is another approach to musical mastery which creates amazing results regardless of whether you are a beginner or an established professional. By creating an embodied, emotional relationship to the music being practiced or performed, the brain is preconditioned to stay in a creative, whole brain process when a performer is under pressure, resulting in less anxiety, improved focus, and greater confidence. This creative, whole-brain approach to the music-making process is at the heart of the Pathways to Performance Mastery (PTPM) program.
The PTPM program provides simple tools and techniques, based on breakthroughs in neuroscience and mind-body medicine, to empower musicians of all ages to approach each facet of their musical life (practicing, rehearsing, performing, and auditioning) with an embodied, emotional connection to their creative voice and to the music they are playing. Utilizing these techniques effects change at the most critical level—in the brain—rewiring the neural pathways associated with the creative process, thereby reducing performance anxiety and helping a musician display their musical gifts when it matters most.
There are four main pathways of exploration in the PTPM program. Together these pathways provide a powerful approach to support musicians in understanding their musical artistry, in recognizing their strengths and weaknesses as a player, and in attaining performance mastery.
Becoming a 4 Element Performer
Embracing Your Musical Voice
Accessing Your Inner Wisdom
Becoming Your Own Master Teacher
Emulating other great musicians creates an awareness of your artistic uniqueness and helps you to become the musician you want to be.
The most effective way to unlock a musician’s creative potential is to recognize the unique relationship they have to the music they are performing.
All the wisdom a person needs for recognizing and transforming what holds them back as a performer lies within.
Pathway #1—Becoming a 4 Element Performer
Participants in the PTPM program use the 4 Element Performer Profile to discover their strengths and weaknesses as a player within the four elements of earth (tone/intonation), water (phrasing/musicality), air (articulation/style), and fire (technique/timing). A player’s profile, in conjunction with the 4 Element Performer chart (see chart below), creates a roadmap for understanding a participant’s unique path of self-improvement. By applying the suggestions given for daily application in their practice, and connecting to the qualities they want for each facet of their playing, musicians in the program will have the ability to attain the skills needed for performance mastery. Emulating performers who have demonstrated the qualities a player wants to communicate, within each of the four “modes of expression” listed in the 4 Element Performer Chart, is a helpful tool for not only discovering one’s unique musical voice, but also for recognizing how to become a balanced 4 Element Performer.
Pathway #2—Embracing Your Musical Voice
This pathway focuses on recognizing the intrinsic qualities unique to each piece of music and on understanding one’s personal relationship and connection to those qualities. The Embodiment Process, a core technique taught in this portion of the program, offers an innovative approach that naturally guides a musician beyond just “playing the notes” to experiencing a level of creative freedom and virtuosity on their instrument that contains both soulful expression and technical mastery. By connecting to the qualities they want to convey within each of the four elements (see chart above), a musician is guided to discover their musical voice and to master the skills essential for becoming a well-rounded performer—one that is able to demonstrate the depth and breadth of their musical artistry in any setting, especially during auditions and key performances.
Pathway #3—Accessing Your Inner Wisdom
All the wisdom a person needs for recognizing and transforming what holds them back as a performer lies within. The key is to access that inner knowing through a practice that is grounded in the music-making process. The third pathway in this program offers techniques that focus on building emotional, imaginal, and intuitive forms of awareness. These techniques unlock a musician’s inner wisdom, helping them to understand what they want to say as a performer, how to fix perceived blocks and physical limitations, who to go to for support, and how to structure their practicing and preparation for performances and auditions. These techniques will enhance a person’s mind-body connection, open up new levels of awareness, and stimulate the brain function and neural networks associated with optimal and peak performance.
Pathway #4—Becoming Your Own Master Teacher
Specific performance skills are the foundation to performance mastery. These include poise and resiliency, energy regulation and embodiment, concentration and focus, and courage and confidence. Demonstrating these skills on a consistent basis requires approaching one’s craft from the perspective that you are your own master teacher—self-correcting while practicing, rehearsing, and performing. The innovative techniques offered in this pathway support musicians in stepping into this master teacher role for themselves. Utilizing these techniques will:
- • Help musicians get back on track when things are not going well
- • Prepare them to be able to generate specific performance states when needed;
- • Guide them in managing their energy so they are mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared to play their best at the right time;
- • Help them to tap into their inner wisdom and intuition;
- • Facilitate a deeper connection to the music they are playing;
- • Awaken inner resources, strengths, and talents; and
- • Guide them in transforming performance anxiety, doubts, and fears into a deeper understanding of their authentic voice as a musician.
Individual Performance Enhancement Coaching
Gary’s performance coaching is unique because it combines mind-body practices, especially kinesiology (muscle testing), with traditional coaching techniques to access the deep wisdom that lies beyond your conscious awareness. Gary can quickly and effectively uncover the beliefs, patterns and subconscious stresses that are holding you back from demonstrating your potential on a consistent basis and playing your best when it matters most.
The precision you will achieve, once we pinpoint the limiting patterns and beliefs that are interfering with you actualizing your gifts as a musician, cannot be duplicated through regular music lessons, conventional coaching, or talk therapy. Unlocking your potential as a performer begins with recognizing the events and situations from your past that may have been repressed or dismissed as insignificant, but which are acting as a limiting force while you perform. Connecting the dots between these life experiences and your path as a musician is what makes this work so unique.
This more intimate and personal work is unlike any performance enhancement work being done in the world today — there is no guessing about what is holding you back. Accessing your inner wisdom through kinesiology reveals the path to ultimately actualizing your gifts as a performer. The most effective way to do this work is in person, but Gary also does long-distance Skype sessions using all of the same support structures from the Pathways to Performance Mastery Program to guide you in performing your best for auditions and key performances.
© 2015 Gary Jobe Ferguson All Rights Reserved