Goal Setting and Visual Imagery:
The Musician

The conductor threatened to boot me out of the orchestra unless I got my act together. He said my complaints reflected how much I was suffering and that I’d suffer less if I learned to use my talents more effectively. I shot back, “What a crock. If you ran this outfit properly we’d be motivated to do our best. Give us better music, conduct with some authority and then see what happens.” I was relieved he didn’t fire me on the spot. After all, have you seen many job openings for clarinet players lately?

I reluctantly agreed to get some counselling and arranged an appointment. I arrived at the clinic a bit early and was nervous as I hadn’t a clue what to expect.

After checking out my background, he asked me to compose my life in terms of personal goals. Then I was instructed to imagine a scene with all of the elements in place. I found this quite interesting, as it became apparent I had preferred to bounce around like a pin-ball rather than take firm control of my future.

I was confused at first when he later told me to “penetrate the present” by concentrating on whatever I was doing. He said this would help me focus on my musical instrument and control any stage fright. Eventually I found out what he meant and have been less bothered by regrets and worries that used to disturb my performance.

As one of my goals is to earn extended applause from an audience, I’ve found it easier to ignore distractions and spend more time practising at home. Though my attitude remains serious, I judge my errors much less harshly. This allows me to take greater chances and to expand my musical skills.

Anyway, it’s obvious most members of the orchestra are using this system too. They show up early for rehearsals, obey the conductor and strive to clearly translate the composer’s music. You know, it’s not really work any more...you sort of lose yourself in the pure tone of the moment...it’s really quite amazing.

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