Wednesday, March 16, 2011

5 Stages of Performance Denial

The 5 Stages of Performance Denial

When confronted with a no-win performance situation, pianists often undergo five discrete mental stages*:
  • Denial – “I can do this”;  “Anyone can learn a Brahms sonata in one week”
  • Pleading - “I can beg someone to sub”; "Who else can do this instead of me?"
  • Bribery – “I can pay outrageous amounts for someone to sub"; "I will give my life savings if..."
  • Coercion – “I can blackmail someone into subbing”; “I know you’re the one who never gave Prof X’s Schubert score back”
  • Acceptance - “Public humiliation is imminent”; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it." 

Seriously freaked performers skip the stages and simply practice for 18 hours a day.  Be smart.  Just Say No.  

*The humiliation avoidance process is highly personal. Steps do not necessarily come in the order noted above, nor do all pianists experience all steps (although they usually experience at least two). Those working through the stages possibly should consider several hours of caffeine-fueled rehearsals or support groups.  

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