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June 2019
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2002-07-17 The Inner Game

Whether you are a sportsperson or a performer, you can work on your outer game for years, and even perfect it, but if you havent got your inner game sorted, then maybe you are wasting your time?


And No, its not that I have been watching too much Oprah or Rikki Lake, but I have to admit that the above theories do come from that side of the Atlantic. An American gentleman called Tim Gallwey developed the inner game theory and has successfully applied it to tennis, golf, and later to music. I have read, and even highlighted, his Inner Game of Music, which he co-wrote with professional double-bass player Barry Green (you see James Blennerhassett is not the only one, but he is the best!)

I know what they say makes sense, and I know that if I could really live his ideas when I perform I would without a doubt reach my full potential. One of his main equations is P = p  i or Performance = potential  interference. (Bear with me here please). Gallwey believes that our every performance ought to be equal to our full potential without all the interferences that get in the way (Nice idea?). He talks of Self 1 and Self 2. Self 2 is the ideal relaxed yet aware state of performance, and Self 1 is all those horrid little nagging voices that invade our minds and block the route to our full potential. Weve all been there  we walk out on stage and everything seems to distract us  an argument you may have just had with your agent who is now in the front row and not looking happy at all, the man next to him who is nodding off, the little girl with her index finger lodged firmly in her right nostril, the less than accomplished accompanist who is permanently a quaver behind the beat, or the elderly lady thinking she has successfully opened her Foxs Glacier Mint without anyone noticing. In one case during a packed to the rafters performance of Haydns Creation in Newbury I held my breath for the duration of that sublime piece of music as a golden labrador guide-dog broke wind under my nose, once a bar!

Anyway, back to the Inner Game theories. A very good way of achieving ones full potential is by employing the techniques of goal-setting. I have always been a great believer in setting both career goals and indeed personal goals. The tenor James McCracken had a wee stick-on star on his shaving mirror to remind him daily of his ambition/goal to sing one day at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, a goal he was to realise on many occasions. A few years ago, I set some long-term goals of getting a record deal and of singing with a major opera house, and now I luckily need to set some new ones!

Long-term personal goals of course might be to buy a house, or maybe get married? In order to achieve long-term goals, short-term and medium term goals are important along the way. Short-term goals for me might be to memorise the lyrics of a song, or to arrange a vocal harmony. Who knows, we may only get one chance at life? This is not a rehearsal (and all that), this is the real thing, so in order to make the most of it, goalsetting is a very good way of achieving the best out of any walk of life.

Being idle is something that I am simply not very good at, and I even get fidgety if I find myself with a few days off in between gigs. Its at times like that that goalsetting is great for motivation.

Obviously it is taken for granted that you have done the years of study and preparation. Basically you must have done your homework. The book assumes that the reader is fully prepared. But these inner game theories ought to go some way to help the performer achieve the best possible performance, and to overcome self-doubt and fear of failure. Of course there no insecure people in show business, are there, but it cant do any harm to give it a go, now can it?

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