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There are people who prefer to say ‘Yes’, and there are people who prefer to say ‘No’. Those who say ‘Yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say ‘No’ are rewarded by the safety they attain.

–       Keith Johnstone.

Recently, I began taking improv classes (theatrical improvisation), a completely new direction for me. I have not been able to perform as a professional pianist for years now, owing to a health condition, so I was delighted to be able to take part in another performing art, even as a beginner.

What I hadn’t expected was how deep the experience would be for me, and how its principles are seeping into my everyday life– affecting my relationships with friends, family, and students. It is gradually becoming a way of life, a way of being. [···]

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Isn’t it funny how often we say that we know what we want, but we can’t seem to get there?  In my job as a life coach for musicians, this is one thing I often hear from my clients.   So we draw diagrams, put together action plans, list next steps, set goals for 3 months, 6 months, one year… And then the next time we meet often little has changed.  I’ve come to expect this now, and don’t take it as a setback.  It’s just a sign that other factors have come into play. This article is about how to tackle those other factors that get between you and what you really want. [···]

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Especially as singers, we HAVE to think, as that’s the only way to affect our instrument. Questions I ask are: “What was the difference between that time and the time before?” “What are you going to do to try to change XX; How successful was what you tried and why?” “What did you think about that sound?” “What did you do differently?”

Overall, I have banned the words “good” and “bad” because neither tell you what to continue working with and what to try to fix. I also try to always use only positive directives. We’ll identify both what behavior we want to replace and then what we want to happen instead. Focus is then on what we WANT to happen, rather than what we don’t want.


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