Practice Makes……

'Practice makes perfect' was the phrase I was brought up with but it's such rubbish and sets the sorts of expectations for practice that can make it miserable. I know that the people who do well with their practice think two things, first they enjoy it and secondly they stretch themselves and have no problem when they fall of then edge of their skill zone. In this episode I talk about how to take steps to get to that headspace....

(Here's the link I mention in the Episode:

Podcast 7 Title

The Courageous Performer Podcast

Practice Makes....

Read the episode transcript here:


Hi, I'm Hattie Voelcker. From Find Your True Voice, and welcome to this podcast episode. Today I'm going to be talking all about practice, because I've been thinking a lot about practice. So recently I was struggling to get fit. So I was working out really hard and then I created all this tension in my shoulders. So instead, I have set myself a challenge that for the next, I think I've been doing it for three weeks now, so for the next four to five weeks, I'm going to be walking every day, and I set myself a challenge of walking three miles a day, actually, I've outstripped that and for one week, I was doing almost 20,000 steps, 20,000 steps a day. But that got too much, and I got too tired, so I cut back, I was listening to my body, which is something I don't normally do, I was listening to my body so I cut back.



But part of the walking was also I was walking with my son to create this connection, and have some time where we were just not doing stuff, but just being together. So not only has it helped me think about my stuff, but I think it's helped us to think about our stuff and and how we relate to each other, which has been really interesting and useful. Because the more I do of this stuff, the more I realised that things go wrong when I don't listen to myself, and things go better when I do. And, and this sort of relates to the stuff I want to talk to you about practice.



Because I don't know about you, but when I was little, the phrase "Practice makes perfect" was really commonplace, and now I cannot stand it. My sons use the word practice makes progress, and yeah, that's so much better than perfect, because what is perfect? And I think perfect is anybody who knows me well and creates an awful lot of tension and doesn't actually make us get better off or makes us get worse. But practice makes progress seems really dull, too. And we have this idea that practice is just something you have to do. This is functional side to it. And the more I do the work I do, the more I realised this is this is really unhelpful, because when we view it as purely functional, as a means to an end, it can feel really heavy. Because you know, if you don't do it, you won't be successful. And if you do do it, you'll have a better chance.



But because it's functional, it feels boring, and it's not something you want to integrate into your life and blah, blah, blah. So I always used to procrastinate, and still do on occasion, my practice. And I was reminded of this, because, you know, I've been doing all these podcasts about how to learn your stuff, yet yesterday, I was videoing a video for social media. It was a one minute video, and my goodness, did I make hard word work of it because, with hindsight, I realised I wasn't prepared to put the effort in the I'm telling all of you is a good way of doing it. I wasn't prepared to really connect with my message, I wanted to just get it done. I've viewed it as a shortcut, and two hours, it took me to do a one minute video. And I churn videos out willy nilly, I can do a one minute video in one minute, mostly. But there was something about this video, that there was a pressure on it, it was particularly significant, it was particularly important. So I wanted to kind of get it done and get it dusted.



And I kept videoing it and it kept videoing it and I wasn't happy. Because instead of doing what I recommend to all of you to do I was just trying to be efficient. And it turned out to be eminently inefficient. Today, I've done a minute and a half video, and it had the same pressure on it and it took me half an hour because I spent half an hour prepping it going through it, understanding it, knowing what it meant, knowing how it felt connecting with it, and doing the sort of practice that I never used to do. Now for me, practice always used to be about getting things right. Practising, so I got it right. And that if you think about it from the psychological perspective, brings a pressure to it. It brings this, every time you get it wrong, the practice is going to go on longer is going to be harder you view the whole task as harder. And what I reminded myself of yesterday, is actually, if we can bring it back to the message, it helps us in so many different ways.



One, it helps us remember, and so even if it's learning words to a song, even in a foreign language, one of the first things I do is I read it as a poem. I mean, no, before that, I translate it, I do a proper literal translation. So I understand it, then I read it as a poem, and I get it, I get it into my soul. And then I start to understand the music. And then I listen to it lots and lots. And all of this work, there's a part of me that still goes, 'Oh, come on, it's a waste of time. Why don't I just get on and learn it?' But all of this stuff is getting into my soul, getting it into my, my body, making me really connect with the meaning, which helps me remember the words.



But more than that, it helps me when I perform it because I am truly connected with it. And that means I can connect to the audience with it. Because if I truly understand what I'm talking about what I'm singing about what I'm expressing, then they're going to understand it much more easily. If I haven't got it into my soul, then I'm just hoping that they can get it into their soul by some sort of osmosis la, la, la.



And I think there's a reason we don't we resist digging into one, I think we think it's a waste of time. And it will be far faster to get on and just learn it learn the music, Lala Land dynamics, learn what we want to say, done, and be perfunctory about it. And two, I think, leaning into the meaning and how we feel about it, and connecting with it can make us feel vulnerable. What if we don't understand it? What if we don't get the right meaning? What if we don't have a connection with it at all what goes on there? And so it, it feels less safe than doing the practical tasks that we know will get us to the end. And I think there's a part of us that feels like it's a bit woowoo and certainly it was with me when I started.



So instead, we look for rules, we look for ways of getting it right, getting it perfect. And if we don't get it perfect, then we must be doing something wrong. And as I say this makes practice all about avoiding failure, and trying to achieve perfection. But the truth is all performance is about communication. It's about transmitting something from you to the audience, whether it's emotion, whether it's story, or whether it's just pure facts, you are trying to get a message across to the audience. It's about communication. And for communication, you have to have connection, because if there's no connection, you cannot transmit through the connection, to reach the other person. And connection requires us to be focusing on the audience and the message and how we communicate this, because then they feel what we feel they understand what we understand. And if we dig into it, we're talking about mirror neurons here. But that level of connection means communication is way more effective. And once you've embedded what you are the message of what you're singing what you're speaking what you're saying to your into your body, you it means that you are then much more able to communicate and if something goes awry, you're much more able to get back in the message. Because as I said last time, it becomes a story that you're telling, even if it's just purely factional, factional? Just about facts, I'm trying to think of the term and I can't think of the term factual, not factorial, factual. There, I got there in the end.



Once you know that there's a narrative to the facts you're giving. You can get back into it if you get blown off course. I'm actually looking at looking at it this way. Ooh, can you hear the wind, it's really windy outside? Looking at it this way makes practice more fun. Because instead of just trying to get lots of things, right, you're trying to understand and really connect with what you're doing with what you're saying with what you're performing. And when you have that connection, and you're looking for that connection, it's enjoyable. You're looking for a good thing. And and then I'm not saying you don't look to be accurate, you don't look to do things well, but then the accuracy is about. it's not about accuracy, for accuracy sake. It's not about avoiding criticism and getting everything right. Accuracy is about supporting the message. You want to do it well so that the message is conveyed more, in a way that it is more likely to be received and understood by your audience. It's in order to maximise expression. So, if you view practice just about getting things, right, right or wrong, one that's not enjoyable, and two, it's not effective. Because if you turn it on its head and go into practice going, how do I really connect with this message, I can guarantee you, your performance will improve. I know this through the years and years of working with my clients. If they, if I'm working with a singer, and I'm watching their performance, I'm doing a performance audit, or we're doing a workshop, I'll watch them. And I'll know when they're not connected with their message. And then we'll go over and I'll go, what exactly is going on here? How do you feel about it, what's going on here, and we'll dig in to what they're feeling what the character is feeling, what the words mean, what's going on in the music, to connect them with that message, that story, that narrative.



Every time. We don't do this, like, again, and again, and again, we don't have time to do it. But every time in the next the next time they perform it, it is on a different level. Now if they then go away and practice that understanding, practice it getting into their bones, and like, I keep forgetting that word, what's the reason that word doesn't yet make sense in this, or if you're doing a speech, I keep forgetting to say this, what's the reason that this is the bit I dropped, because it means you're not connected with it, it means you don't have a good enough reason to say it or sing it. So find the reason. And that is so much more interesting than practising until you get it right. Then practice in itself becomes a joy. Practice in itself, it's serving a much higher creative purpose.



You're not just trying to get things right, you're actually creating, you're creating a means of communication, or you're creating a means of connecting with people. Because if you can go on stage, one relaxed, because it's not about getting everything right. Two, with a message that you've fallen so much in love with that you really want to convey. And three looking at the audience, because you want to convey it to them, you want to connect with them, then you will connect with them, because you're more likely to make eye contact because your anxiety is lower, you're more likely to speak to them sing to them in a way of getting the message across. So then a message is clearer. And they are more likely to feel your connection with a message, which means that they have an easy in to have a connection with the message you are conveying.



So forget about practice being about accuracy, about repetition, about simply putting in the hours, because it won't be rewarding for you in terms of the time you spend there. But it also won't be rewarding in terms of it won't be effective. If you concentrate, as I said before, if you concentrate on the message, it doesn't mean you downgrade accuracy, but accuracy is then there, then there to serve the message, the communication, the connection, the delivery. It's not there because if you don't, you'll be embarrassed, you'll get it wrong, and people will think badly of you. If you make everything about serving the communication, the connection, the audience the message, then it becomes so much more joyful.



So that's what I wanted to talk to you about in terms of practice today. Now, if you're at the stage where you think you really do want to do some work on this, and you're struggling to dig yourself out of the hole, then take a look at the my website, find your true If you go to find your true, you'll see the different ways you can work with me to make this change in your life so that you can go out and feel relaxed and comfortable and be focusing on the connection. Because as I say, when you focus on the connection, and let go of those worries and concerns, two things happen. One is you're more likely to connect and communicate, and two is you'll find your accuracy goes up because as you know, your nerves will impact your performance your nerves will impact how well you perform something whether you can get those high notes whether you remember to say this, whether you even make eye contact with the audience, how comfortable you feel in your body, because if you don't feel comfortable, I don't know if you know but when you're watching somebody who feels uncomfortable, we feel uncomfortable. The audience feels uncomfortable, but it's possible for anyone to feel comfortable in front of any audience.



Anyway thank you for listening and I look forward to talking to you in the next episode I'm Hattie Voelcker from Find Your True Voice.