Focus - the power of all powers!

Author: The Musicians' Coach Kavit Haria

Self 1 gives to us the constant chatter in our minds – the person within us that tells us that we’re going to fail; we shouldn’t play because we’re just not good enough. Have you experienced that before? Read more about Self 1 and Self 2.

Well, I’m sorry to say that without these distractions, life would just be plain boring and we can’t get rid of them BUT there is a solution, a technique we can use to minimise their impact on us, and this technique is used by the best musicians around. Here’s the strategy... by accepting distractions and then consciously choosing to focus our awareness elsewhere, we can increase our awareness of the music and lessen the amount of frustration we feel at the distractions. We should choose a focus for our awareness in the present moment and not wander off into the past or future. When we are aware of what’s happening in the present moment, our concentration develops and things seem to improve almost effortlessly. As a musician, the best way to focus on the present moment is to place our concentration and focus on our sight, hearing and feelings.

Did you know that Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps, winner of six goal medals and eight overall, likes hip-hop? And more so, when he was asked what he thinks about underwater apart from wanting to hit the wall, he said "I'm singing a song in my head... whatever I was listening to before I got into the water."

That's Michael's focus! What's yours?

By having a focus, you will ease any fears as your mind remains in one place, even if you do look around and have the fun of your life whilst performing. Your Self 1 chatter will slowly disappear the longer you focus and practice this for. It’s a phenomenal technique!

In this article, let’s look at how you can bring your awareness directly on the sight…

If you are not familiar with the notes on the score, then simply watch them. When I learn new things on the Tabla, I find it easier to look at each note and speak it out whilst I play. This keeps my focus as well as helps me remember it off by heart! If you are familiar with your notes, then simply “paint it out.” When you are playing the particular notes, either leave your eyes open or close them and picture the notes on the paper as you are playing. Alternatively, you can picture yourself painting it out whilst you are playing. If you don’t want to picture the notes, perhaps try looking at yourself playing the instrument (in your mind) whilst you are actually playing it.

Go through the following steps, keep on practicing and see the heightened difference in your playing...

(1) Play a piece of music

(2) Play the piece of music again, this time focusing on a particular sight

(3) This time play it again, focusing and visualising another musician playing it while the music you are making evokes images in your mind.

(4) Note down what you felt, saw, and heard and any difference in your music.

I suggest you create a plan to try this strategy everyday and for slightly longer periods of time. Remember, the more you practice this, the more it will get embedded within you and your concentration in the music will increase. That means, your Self 1 begins to disappear! Other techniques for focusing and using sound and feelings are explored further in the “Express Yourself” for Musicians workbook available at

About the Author

Kavit Haria is the musicians coach and works with musicians worldwide who want to be more confident, master concentration, tame performance anxiety, build better audience rapport and effective communication skills so that you can get regular performances. He runs his own practice in London, UK and runs a fortnightly newsletter. You can also get his free workshop here:


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