One thing that many musicians fail to practice is performance. They simply do not practice in the same way that they perform and are therefore, not surprisingly, ill prepared or disappointed when the time of actual performance arrives. Many of the books I’ve read on practice contain chapters or references to ways in which you can improve your performance however in Mind Over Matter Susan Whykes dedicates a whole book to the subject.
To begin Whykes presents psychological arguments as to why performances are not what we would wish, linked to practice and focus. The main thrust of the argument here is that musicians do not focus their minds on performance – choosing instead to practice technique, aural, dexterity or other musical skills. The book then moves very quickly to many techniques for improving performance. Most of these are visualisation type exercises aimed at making the mind think more about and focus on performance – imagining the ideal performance.
There is some value in this volume in that it does make you consider the mental approaches to performing and I did like the visualisation techniques. I was however left feeling a little short changed by the briefness of the book, it is pocket sized and only seventy five pages long. I also felt as though the subject could have been explored in more detail. I think the basic premise and arguments are very interesting but would have liked to have seen more development of these ideas.
Mind Over Matter by Susan Whykes, (2007, Author House, ISBN: 978-1-4259-6458-3) is available from:[amazon asin=1425964583&template=htp price]