Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Power Posing


I heard this TED Talk a couple of years ago, and thought vaguely at the time that it was probably something to try. Would a more powerful posture really change my attitude and success rate?  Would people perceive my performances as stronger, and would I FEEL stronger?

Then I decided that if I had any more confidence on the oboe I'd be just plain cocky.  This advice wasn't for me.  I let myself forget all about it.  (Sidenote: my archery instructor comments frequently on my excellent posture. Delights me deeply.)

Something happened today, though. I have a student who is very shy and self effacing. Every week she comes in and I have to ask and ask for real air, for confidence, for power in her playing. She is a fine oboist, but she has a tiny sound and she stops every few seconds to apologize for the smallest mistakes. By the end of the lesson she usually is playing very well, but I have to be on her constantly until she pulls it together and blows real air through the instrument.

Today something was different. She walked in taller than usual. She spread her feet apart and stood in a power pose and gave me a strong, confident sound from the very beginning of the lesson. We played some scales and started an etude that she genuinely wasn't prepared on, and instead of apologizing a million times she admitted that it wasn't ready and suggested something else more productive to work on. Which she played well. Fifteen minutes in I stopped the lesson and commented.

I LOVE the new you! You're standing there like you MEAN BUSINESS, and you own the oboe today. Where is this coming from?

Oh, she said, embarrassed, I didn't know anything was different.  We had swimming this morning and my legs are totally cramping.  It just feels better to stand like this.

Did you catch that? She ACCIDENTALLY adopted a powerful posture and it translated into powerful playing and an unusually strong level of engagement with the grownup in the room.

Mind. Blown. Guess who's going to be talking about posture a LOT more in lessons!

Thank you, Erin, for this reminder!