How to survive the X Factor Experience: Top 10 Tips

X factor TSG 8

Top 10 Tips for Audition Success

Last week I discussed the challenge of tackling the audition process for the X Factor and explored the idea that being willing to cope with discomfort, success or failure was critical for every contestant. Every audition places demands on a performer and there are certain basic tips to follow to achieve success. Here are some of the top tips that I discuss with performers every day in my practice.

  1. Be Prepared – A performer needs to have mastered the material in order to reach optimal performance.  It is impossible to be completely confident and comfortable in an important performance, exam or audition if you don’t know the material well. How well you’ve mastered the music will affect your level of stress significantly. If you are well prepared and you find the music simple, your anxiety will be lower than when you are under prepared or when the music is perceived as more complex.
  1. Don’t overestimate the importance of the outcome. Each performance is not life and death and there will always be other performance opportunities, other exams or auditions. One poor performance does not equate to being a bad performer or mean the end of a career in music. As performers, it is easy to focus your attention on things such as “What will happen if I stuff up? “What if I don’t get the gig? or “Will I make a fool of myself?”.  Focusing on these types of potential negative scenarios rather than being “in the moment” during performance will always interfere with the quality of any performance.
  1. Make sure you interpret physical changes in your body such as an increase in heart rate before and during performance as a natural, helpful and necessary state for peak performance. Symptoms such as an escalated breathing  rate, and a rush of adrenalin are all signals that your body is preparing to perform. Optimal performances occur when you accept and manage this response effectively, rather than view it as an enemy to go into battle with and overcome. Using deep diaphragm breathing and mindfulness techniques assists performers to make room for discomfort and to focus effectively before going on stage.
  1. Be aware of what your mind tells you before, during and following a performance. What you say to yourself in your head has the power to affect your performances positively or negatively. Performance coaching allows you to learn how to detach from thoughts that get in the way of confidence and performance focus and get into the music.
  1. Lose yourself in the music and connect with the judges or audience.  Remind yourself to focus on expression, the emotion, style and character of the music and connecting with your audience through this vehicle. If your thoughts start to focus on yourself (e.g. your physical symptoms or on whether the judges like it) you will lose focus and your performance will suffer.
  1. Prepare emergency recovery strategies i.e. what to do when the performance has started poorly or mistakes have been made. A top performer knows that it is not helpful to dwell on mistakes and is able to recover fast, let that moment go, regain focus and move on.
  1. Develop a pre performance routine that includes good nutrition, rest, appropriate physical activity and warming up using mental, emotional and technical elements.
  1. Be prepared to take risks. Always take up opportunities to perform. Create opportunities that both simulate the audition experience to better prepare yourself for the experience. Do not avoid challenging performance situations or auditions, as avoidance will lead to an increase in the fear attached to these situations.
  1. When performing in a novel environment, get there early enough to familiarise yourself with the environment so that this does not give a strong sense of threat. Notice possible sources of distractions and be prepared for them.
  1. Most importantly, remember that playing music or singing should always be enjoyable. Do your best to get into the music so that you can lose yourself in the moment and enjoy what you are doing, regardless of what the outcome is.

These are just some of the tips that are relevant to musicians. Performance coaching or workshops provide great opportunities to learn more about the psychological side of enhancing performance. This can give you an extra edge that allows you to achieve your potential and not be crushed if the audition doesn’t lead to your desired outcome. Performers need thick skins to survive, but they also need practical psychological tools as well as ability.

If you feel that you do not perform to your potential, then stop and think about the value of learning new tools to unlock that potential and let go of any barriers that are holding you back from peak performance.

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