Say No to the World's Noise

The world is full of suggestions, advice, “shoulds,” and opportunities. It doesn’t stop talking. But it doesn’t mean we’re always supposed to listen.

Learning when and when not to listen to the talkers of the world is a matter of discernment.

Discernment – an ability to grasp, comprehend, and judge which things of a particular kind are good or bad for you

Discernment takes knowing your values: what is most vital to you in order to maintain artistic growth and satisfaction.


Finding Your Values

Projects or opportunities that don’t align with your values cause pause and a moment of held breath when you consider them.

Projects or opportunities that resonate with you in some way cause you to breathe in with a smile and excitement.

These visceral reactions give insight into what truly resonates with you as you navigate the world and all its aspirations. It’s important here, though, to establish the difference between “liking” everything you’re doing and viewing projects as what they are: stepping stones to artistic growth and satisfaction.

Discernment and Mentorship

One of the most important acts we do at every stage of training and life is choose a mentor – the person who has traits we want for ourselves, successes we want for ourselves, and perhaps a satisfaction with life that we want for ourselves. This mentor is someone whose word we trust above most others in the world. It is usually a person with more life experience: sometimes a teacher, sometimes a colleague, sometimes a belief system, and sometimes someone we’ve never met but whose writings or teachings align with our values.

An effect of practicing discernment is an acknowledgment of music as a long haul pursuit. The road to mastery is long, and as some would argue, never ends. Realizing that we may not “like” everything along the road is a matter of maturity and perspective.

Discernment helps us find congruency in decisions about where we focus our energies. The world’s “shoulds” and suggestions never stop coming, but we can use discernment to identify which ones are clearly not for us. Saying no to the noise is just as important as saying yes to the voices that will put us on a path for artistic growth and satisfaction.

“And whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life,

keep peace in your soul.”

- Desiderata, Max Ehrmann, 1927

Musician's Procrastination Toolkit: Reverse Procrastination and Get More Done

You see your instrument in the other room. It’s sitting in the corner waiting for you to start practicing for the concert next month. You think about all the work ahead, how imperfect you will sound in the beginning, and the repetition and boredom you must wade through. Your mind wanders to the couch beneath you and how comfortable and inviting it feels.

You spot your phone on the table. It looks more fun than the instrument in the next room. So, you start Snapchatting, Instagraming, YouTubing, binge watching, iMessaging, and Facebooking. You call your friends, parents, spouse, children, classmates, and the third cousin on your mother’s side who went to summer camp with you in first grade. You go for a run, cook, clean, walk the dog, and even clean the lint from your dryer.

You Procrastinate with a capital P, and start your journey into what we call the “Procrastination Cycle."

Procrastinating, Stressed, and Overwhelmed

Procrastination is a reactive choice of inaction. When we procrastinate, we are ruled by our emotions to a task. Tim Pychyl, author of The Procrastination Puzzle, hypothesizes that we procrastinate work due to any of the following reactions: it’s boring, frustrating, difficult, ambiguous, unstructured, the process isn't fun, or we find no personal meaning in it.

But procrastination doesn’t work alone.

The Procrastination Cycle is a trifecta of emotions and behaviors you journey through that includes procrastination, stress, and feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes procrastination leads to mild stress but, if practice is delayed too long, you can feel completely overwhelmed in short order. If you doubt your abilities, you may procrastinate, then feel stressed, then overwhelmed.

Staying in the Procrastination Cycle too long can lead to increased anxiety, panic attacks, and even depression as you feel less in control of your future. Your prolonged procrastination can also make you feel isolated from others because you may worry about letting people down.

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Procrastination Is a Choice

Procrastination is a choice that is grounded in your worry about the future. You are worried that you will fail. You’re worried that you will run out of time: time to finish the task, and time to still do things you want to do. Some tasks will require a sacrifice in other areas, but the sacrifice is temporary.

Here are some simple tips for troubleshooting procrastination, stress, and feeling overwhelmed.

Tips To Reverse Your Procrastination

If you’re feeling stressed, daily planning your practices can be too spur-of-the-moment. Sometimes the time you really have available to practice is on Tuesday afternoon instead of Friday morning. Planning by the week will help you see the best times to practice so you feel fully engaged instead of rushed or tired.

If you’re currently procrastinating or on the precipice of it:

  • Consider the impending stress if you choose not to get in the practice room.

  • Figure out something musical you can achieve in 5 minutes; 10 minutes; 15 minutes, etc.

  • Release your current attitude about the practice at hand. You wouldn’t be assigned it if someone didn’t think you could achieve it – whether the person assigning it was a professor, instructor, or yourself. YOU CAN DO IT. JUST START. If you’re feeling overwhelmed:

    First and foremost, BREATHE. What you’re feeling is temporary and will not last forever. Embrace the calm of breathing slowly and deeply.

    Visualize a time when you mastered a difficult piece of music and try to recreate the feeling of satisfaction, joy, pride, or happiness you felt at that time. Try to feel it in your body as if you returned to that very moment.

    Break Free From the Procrastination Cycle Today

    Keeping immediate, short, and long term perspectives in mind shows us the unending cause and effect of procrastination, thus offering a way to choose action over inaction.

    Today is a great time to rededicate yourself to your personal mission and musical aspiration by setting goals and committing to the work needed to reach them. No matter your age or experience, you can break free from the procrastination cycle. Get started today.

PercussionMind Specificity: TAIS vs. our self-assessment

How invigorating it was to share our PercussionMind results at PASIC!  Our room was quite packed with somewhere between 150-175 folks in the audience.

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In case you missed us, you can find our presentation slides here, take the self-assessment here, and read about the PercussionMind Grid here.  

TAIS vs The Self-Assessment

PercussionMind aims to be meaningful to the individual, so with that in mind, here's some further detail about TAIS, and the difference between taking it as part of PercussionMind yourself, versus only reading our PASIC materials and what's here on the website.

TAIS is the assessment given to the PercussionMind professionals: it measures 20 traits in nearly 150 questions.  Mike took those 20 traits and amalgamated them into The Grid (four main categories, with three sub-categories), which serve as the basis for our quick self-assessment and how we succinctly discuss the most vital mental habits to percussionists, according to our professionals' results. 

TAIS, with its length and specificity, is by nature more in-depth than the self-assessment alone, which is why we offer it as part of the PercussionMind experience. 

Here are two examples that demonstrate TAIS specificity.  The PercussionMind Grid lists Focus in three sub-categories: Task Oriented, Variable, and Distractible.  But these classifications come from nine TAIS traits, each with its own spectral detail:

  • Awareness
  • External Distractibility
  • Analytical/Conceptual
  • Internal Distractibility
  • Action/Focused, Reduced Flexibility
  • Information Processing
  • Orientation towards Rules and Risk
  • Focus Over Time  

Let's look at the Resilience trait from The Grid, whose sub-categories are Adaptable, Unsure, and Avoid.  Seven traits from TAIS work together to determine an individual's resilience:

  • Orientation towards Rules and Risk
  • Control
  • Self-confidence
  • Decision-making style
  • Self-critical
  • Focus Over Time
  • Performance Under Pressure

You'll notice that some TAIS traits overlap between Focus and Resilience.  Understanding how these traits intermingle is information learned through a feedback session.  We offer examples in that session of how traits manifest in real life, not only musically, but in how you relate to people, as well as yourself.  Like our brains, humans are complicated in the reasons we behave, choose, and perform the way we do.  

PercussionMind value

The TAIS assessment regularly retails for just under $500, but Mike's relationship with the testing company enables us to offer the PercussionMind assessment to current students for a much more affordable price. 

For $79.99 as a current student, you can sign up for TAIS, choose a career path to compare yourself to, receive your personal Grid, and receive a 60-minute feedback session to decipher the results of your TAIS assessment.  It's the same cost as a set of four marimba mallets.

The main goal of PercussionMind is to be meaningful and insightful.  It's a form of professional development, of cognitive analysis, and a way to practice self-care.  Instead of spiraling through questions, doubt, and experimentation, you can sign up for PercussionMind as a way to answer your questions, work through your doubt, and decide on a career path that suits you, rather than stumbling upon one by trial and error.

If you have any questions about PercussionMind, don't hesitate to reach out through contactpercmind[at]gmail[dot]com.

Welcome to PercussionMind!

How exciting it is to finally release PercussionMind, a project 18 months in the making!

At this moment we are about 16 hours away from releasing this research publicly.  We believe firmly that PercussionMind is a meaningful project, one that can actually help others and provide answers, relief, and insight.

PercussionMind.org is a tool, a service, and a landing place for all things about increasing mental performance as a professional percussionist.  Learning about one's self, not only in strengths and weaknesses but also preferences and adaptabilities, provides understanding as to why some of us react the way we do to certain situations.  And in the case of music performance, many of those situations occur in high-pressure arenas like concert stages and audition rooms. 

Is it possible to determine what about high-pressure situations derails us? The short answer: YES!  We are all different, and while we all have separate cues or triggers that put us into a heightened survival mode, PercussionMind is all about defining your roadblock and working to get past it.

The Attentional and Interpersonal Style Inventory (TAIS), a long-standing evaluative tool in the area of sports medicine and military strategy, is specifically designed to pinpoint the mental habit[s] responsible for lower performance level under pressure.  Use of this 144-question assessment links PercussionMind to decades of proof, critique, and revision, grounding the project in trusted psychological method.

The road during music training is paved with moments that ground confidence and moments that breed insecurity and doubt.  If you've ever wondered where you fit in, whether or not you "have what it takes," or why you aren't achieving the level of success you know you are capable of, we hope that PercussionMind is a useful tool for you. 

We're really looking forward to comments and feedback after tomorrow's reveal, and to sharing them here.