3 ways to beat nerves (with noa kageyama)

did you know that 12-year-olds in new york city prepare for a test by doing thirty 3-hour practice exams?

apparently it’s for a test that you have to take to get into high school. (i wouldn’t know. i don’t have kids. yet.)

but…that’s 90 hours of testing. for a middle schooler. the company that helps students prepare for the big test requires all of their 12-year-old clients to do that insane amount of testing. they know that’s the way to get their students to succeed.

and they do it in a ultra-realistic way: the 30 practice exams are the same length as the real test, they happen at the same time of day, and they ask the same kind of questions.

and when the students get to the big day, it’s their 31st time experiencing the test.

so...i want you to ask yourself something: why does that seem so weird to us musicians?

to me, such an insane amount of testing for a 12-year-old seems quite abnormal. it seems out of the ordinary. i certainly never did that in middle school.

as musicians, we’re used to practicing by ourselves in the practice room. as soon as it comes to doing a mock audition or playing in front of other people, we’ll make any excuse to stay in the practice room:

“ahhh i need to work on my notes.
i’ll play for someone later.”

“i don’t know all the excerpts yet. let me at least learn all the pieces before i do a mock audition.”

but imagine what it’s like for those 12-year-olds to go to their 31st test. the real one.

maybe their first test was terrible and they totally would have failed that one. and maybe the second and the third were bad too. but by the time they get to their 30th, they're so used to it. it’s not weird at all. it’s routine.

we can learn something from how 12-year-olds prepare for their big day.

think about all the things you aren’t doing in audition prep just because they aren’t in your comfort zone.

if you’re pissed off that you keep getting nervous at auditions because of things like shaky hands or missing notes in auditions, you need to step out of your comfort zone and try something uncomfortable.

that’s why i brought in noa kageyama (performance psychologist from juilliard and the bulletproof musician) to give you some new, practical steps you can take during audition prep to beat nerves.

today’s video is about 3 ways to beat nerves (with noa kageyama).


do you want to work with me and noa to create a complete audition preparation system for yourself? our audition bootcamp is an 8-week training course for ambitious orchestral-track musicians, and it starts on october 18th. we’re capping enrollment to the first 90 students who enroll. i’ll send you more details next week.

rob knopper

hailed by @nytimes and james levine as needing 'louder triangle notes'. recorded delécluse: douze études for snare drum, percussionist in @metorchestra.