Fearless Performance by Jeff Nelsen

Constructive Panic

Hi everyone,


As we work well toward eliminating fearful choices from our performance arena, we can still be inspired by fear in our preparation arena.

Fear is not bad.  Negative results from our fear are bad.

Fear itself can be used for good.  I just watched a fantastic TED Talk about procrastination given by Tim Urban. I highly recommend you watch it today.

I think his talk fits well with the concept of working in our Learning Zone without getting into Panic Zone. 

Tim shares wise words and funnily-true stories about how and why we leave things until the last minute, and how we can still hit our deadlines.  Time passes as our deadline comes closer...until we get the ultimate inspiration, The Panic Monster!  I love it.  More often than not, that's how I "work". I often say, "I do nothing without a goal."  Setting a goal gives us a deadline or two, and some motivation to grow.  When we have deadlines, our panic monster can come push us to our next level.  But I've heard of people who actually plan their work and work their plan WELL.  I wake each day with renewed passion and determination that I can do that better TODAY.  Doing so isn't a mystery.

We can get our work done in a timely manner, so the Panic Monster is less urgent and more of a timely nudge. Let's help ourselves with this today, together.

This week's To Do

Think of a project you want to have finished by September 1. Set a week (not weak!) goal and a today task that take you closer to having your project finished.

- By the end of 7 days from now I will have completed this goal : ___________________

- By the end of today I will have completed this task : ________________________ 

Many of you have school placement auditions coming up.  Take a look at your repertoire list, and pick a passage that you could be performing way closer to what is written.(That's a good way of saying, "pick a passage that's driving you crazy!" eh? ) Plan your specific tasks for today, like "find my real tempo and work at that tempo for 10 minutes." Real tempo is the tempo that you can play all the notes accurately and in tune, with musical shapes and colors.

If you want to knock off more tasks today, here are some ideas: listen to 3 recordings of today's excerpt, read a biography of my composer, listen to my favorite performer on my instrument, listen to music I love, walk for 20 minutes, drink 6 big glasses of water, only eat until 8pm, plan 5 tasks for tomorrow, get to bed by 10pm, get up at 6am tomorrow...

An example goal for the week is, "I will have worked all my repertoire at least once, have clear ideas of how all my repertoire can sound amazing to an audience, and have clear plans on my work for next week."  

It's all about task management.  Once you START doing this well, your goals and projects fall into place.  Do not expect to nail this by day 2.  Just dive in as well as you can, and you will see, with the next day's planning, how you can improve both your planning and execution.

Good luck with changing your Panic Monster into your Timely Nudge Assistant...or something like that?!  Heh...

Keep breathing!


Jeff Nelsen
Jeff Nelsen


1 Comment

Rik De Decker
Rik De Decker

July 06, 2017

Dear Jeff

Thank you for your great contributions to SICMF through your wonderful playing but also your “fearless” teaching!
I spoke to you last night (with my daughter, Amber) and mentioned that I have used your fearless teaching for my fellows who need to perform in the cardiac catheterisation laboratory at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. And they occasionally need to do so online – with a fair deal of extra performance pressure!
Here are 2 links to what we do:
1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra7PY2yZRoI (a 2 minute youtube clip)
2. https://cathchat.co.za (our website)

This is just to let you know that your teaching has impact beyond music. Please keep up the great work and playing!

Kind regards

Rik De Decker

Leave a comment