Pathways to Performance Mastery
The Art of Performing Your Best When It Matters Most
The mission of the Pathways to Performance Mastery (PTPM) Program is to support musicians in discovering their creative voice and demonstrating their musical artistry by utilizing recent breakthroughs in mind–body medicine, neuroscience, somatic psychology, and specialized kinesiology. The program content is offered in a variety of different formats: a two-part masterclass series, a one-day retreat, a weekend immersion, or a semester course.
Performance Mastery is being able to play your best when it matters most and to feel confident demonstrating your musical artistry even under pressure.
“Music is the universal language of mankind”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Pathways to Performance Mastery
What prevents certain musicians from experiencing performance mastery? It is easy to blame it on performance anxiety, but there are other reasons why a musician may not be demonstrating their fullest potential when it matters most. One factor involves how the brain responds to stress based on patterns established in the music 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 while practicing) or whether they have learned to create an embodied, emotional connection to the learning and music making processes.
It is common to approach the music learning process by first becoming proficient on your instrument (including the human voice), and later working on your musical artistry. Learning the fundamentals of playing your instrument without equally investing in the discovery and development of your musical artistry (i.e., focusing on what you want to say) carries with it an unfortunate downside. Years of analytical practicing (i.e., always thinking about the “how,” or the technique of playing your instrument) 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 you more prone to self-analysis, judgment, negative self-talk, and distraction. Most importantly though, it disconnects you from the music you are playing.
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 you are performing 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 PTPM program.
The PTPM program provides simple tools and techniques, based on breakthroughs in neuroscience, somatic psychology, 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 you display your 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 you in understanding your musical artistry, in recognizing your strengths and weaknesses as a player, in learning practice efficiency, and in attaining performance mastery.
Principle of Performance Mastery
A powerful antidote to performance anxiety is to establish a daily routine of creating an emotional, embodied relationship to the music being practiced, rehearsed, or performed.
The Four Pathways to Performance Mastery
Deepening Your Musical Connection
Practicing for Performance Mastery
Pre/Post Performance and Audition Routines
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 your creative potential is to recognize the unique relationship you have to the music you are performing.
“Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.”
– Ludwig van Beethoven
Pathway #1—Deepening Your Musical Connection
This pathway focuses on a musician understanding their personal relationship and connection to the music being played. The Somatic inTUNEment® technique, 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 recognizing their embodied connection to the music they are playing, and most importantly, what they are feeling connected to in the music. The Somatic inTUNEment® technique guides a musician in discovering their musical voice and mastering the skills essential for becoming a well-rounded performer—one who is able to demonstrate the depth and breadth of their musical artistry in any setting, especially during auditions and key performances.
Pathway #2—Becoming a 4-Element Performer
The PTPM program uses a number of experiential processes to help musicians 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). The 4-Element Performer framework creates a roadmap that allows participants to understand their unique path of self-improvement—what needs to be worked on musically—where they may be challenged with expressing various qualities in their playing—as well as technical issues on the instrument.
Pathway #3—Practicing for Performance Mastery
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 embodied awareness and imaginal consciousness. 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, 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—Pre/Post Performance and Audition Routines
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 implementing routines that enhance the mind-body connection, destress the brain, and support emotional and energy regulation. By working with the routines offered in this program a musician becomes their own master teacher—self-correcting while preparing for important performances and auditions so they can achieve their goals and display their gifts when it matters most.
© 2015-2022 Gary Jobe Ferguson