This Is Your Brain on Come Sing With Us!

We worked with our “mental state” so that we could get to that next level…

The visualizations and scripts in this chapter can easily be adapted to prepare for your own personal musical event, art project or other types of performances.

Amy discovered the following when she joined the Sweet Adelines International Singers, a world-renowned chorus with members of all ages.

She shared,

Our international chorus has been competing for at least 20 years. Constantly, we strive to find coaches and musical leadership to help us in our journey to win the coveted gold medal.” 

Vocal coaches are hired along with performance coaches that help us with characterization and movement during our performances. Hundreds of choruses compete to qualify for the international competition. We were doing okay, rarely placing higher than sixth. Typically, it was in the eleventh to twentieth range. Our director and our management team put their leadership heads together and came up with a new concept to move us into the next level. 

Basically, it was this: if we couldn’t internally visualize ourselves winning a gold medal, then it most likely would not happen. Visualize it?
They told us that we needed to find a way to convince ourselves that we were worthy of the gold medal—that we must see ourselves as a
champion level chorus. Our chorus hired what we called a “mental coach.” She worked with our Chorus beginning in 2003. She had to get to know us. We were different from her previous clients. She had previously worked with professional athletes, so a 165-women barbershop chorus was a whole new concept for her. She asked, then worked with us on what our goals were: 

    • Where we had been and where we wanted to go?
    • How did we picture (visualize) ourselves currently?
    • What did we think the future chorus looked like? 

Once that information was shared, we laid out our plans on how we were going to get there.

With the new “image” change, what we were currently doing and what new things were we going to have to do, and change, to reach our
new goals became our challenge. She worked with our “mental state” so that we could get to that next level as we put together action plans.
One of the problems with a big group like ours, unlike individual visualizations, is that we must trust one another that we are doing the homework—homework that includes vocal, mental, and physical activities. Not only that, but during a performance, we must be completely “present to what we are doing” and not be distracted by the audience responses or internal mistakes. Either can throw off your own individual performance, which in turn can throw off the person next to you. It is quite a balance of trust and confidence.

Our first year working with her was 2003. We could feel a change weaving through our group. The next year, we placed fourth, our best ever result. We continued working with her. Two years later, we placed second. We haven’t yet grabbed the gold, but consistently we’re in the top five—a huge feat for us.

We know that we Music Anxiety is common, even among professional musicians.

We know that we are on the right road; we must keep working diligently.

The Sweet Adelines is a nonprofit organization and unfortunately, unable to continue to pay for her expertise. The invaluable lessons she taught us opened our eyes to see and believe that we can and will win that gold medal someday soon. Our visualizations reveal that we can. And we know it!

Amy and her group discovered that the mental  preparation is something that is not always taught or emphasized in most teaching programs … or in life in general. As a musician myself, I experienced similar types of lessons through music. Of course, the technical skills of music are important to learn. When it comes to the ability to perform, the mental preparation is often what makes and breaks a successful  performance.

How can you best tap into your music and not allow fear, stress, and anxiety to stop you?

Music does a lot of things for a lot of people. It’s transporting, for sure. It can take you right back,  years back, to the very moment certain things happened in your life. It’s uplifting, it’s encouraging.  It’s strengthening.
—Aretha Franklin was the Queen of Soul


For more stories like this, check out my new book Expand Your Vision: How to Gain Clarity, Courage & Confidence. 

Dr. Hellerstein is available for lectures, trainings, workshops and interviews. If you are interested in reaching Dr. Hellerstein or booking an engagement click HERE

Lynn Fishman Hellerstein, O.D., FCOVD, FAAO


Lynn Hellerstein
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