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Connecting with your Audience Through Emotional Intelligence

Programming- Preparation- Performance- Post Performance Feedback

It’s the year 2018 and the morning of the final round of a concerto competition. I’d put a lot of pressure on the competition this year because I had a hunger to win. My professor at the time could tell that I was on edge and he told me something I will never forget. The dialogue went something like this;

“Why are you putting so much pressure on this?

“I want to win.”

“But why? What do you gain from winning? A performance? A prestige standing with your colleagues? Because if that’s the case your focus is all wrong. Your only job tonight is to create a beautiful atmosphere for your audience. If you do that, win or lose, you were successful”

That night I went and played the Debussy Premiere Rhapsody with my only goal being to create a beautiful atmosphere for the audience. Not only was I able to feel a connection with my audience, but I was named the winner of the concerto competition.

That night something switched in my brain with how I approached performances. I was incorporating emotional intelligence into my performance without realizing it. This outward exchange of creating something from your heart to make the life of your audience better, even if just for a couple minutes, is what music truly comes down to.

If you google “Emotional Intelligence” you’ll find many books and videos on this topic. This topic gained popularity in 1995 with the published book “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman. The problem I have with the information that can be found is that it’s all focused on STEM careers or how to be emotionally intelligent in the business world. Where are the arts? The goal of a musician is connect emotionally with their audience, so why aren’t we talking about it? There is an area of study dedicated to being Emotionally Intelligent, so why are we not taking advantage of this invaluable resource as musicians?

My goal with these next few blog posts are to give a general overview of how Emotional Intelligence study can be the missing piece for giving an unforgettable performance. I’ll be breaking performing down into four general areas; Programming, Preparation, Performance, and Post Performance Feedback. Each blog post following this will focus on one area and dive deeper into how Emotional Intelligence plays an important role in each step.

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