Performance Confidence Coaching

How can performance psychology enhance your life?

As a performing artist, you will have spent thousands of hours honing your craft, developing your technique, learning repertoire and developing good physical habits in order to try to prevent career-limiting injuries. How much attention have you given to your psychological health?

When I studied at Conservatoire in the 1990’s, no-one was talking about psychological wellbeing. It was often a case of “survival of the fittest”, and some of the most astonishingly wonderful musicians didn’t make it out into the music profession simply because they were not equipped with the psychological tools they needed to survive in a challenging environment. Of those that did, some turned to alcohol or other crutches to cope with the pressure they felt as performers and weren’t able to sustain their promising musical careers beyond the first few years.  Performance anxiety was just as prevalent then as it is now (yes, it affects almost all of us), but no-one spoke about it. I know that I was ashamed of my own performance anxiety, seeing it as a weakness. I hoped that if I kept quiet about it, nobody would notice. I later discovered that many of my seemingly confident colleagues were isolated in their suffering too.

I wanted to do more than just survive as a musician, and it was this that led me to coaching and a qualification in rational emotive behaviour therapy, via a degree in psychology. 

Fast forward thirty years and I am now back in a conservatoire setting working as a positive psychology coach at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, enabling students and other external clients to increase their psychological wellbeing and performance confidence. In the context of coaching, performance anxiety is no longer seen as a taboo subject or a shameful affliction. I welcome it in and work with my clients to loosen its power whilst equipping and empowering them with a powerful cocktail of self-knowledge, a better understanding of how their bodies and minds work together, and above all, self-acceptance. This healthy approach to performance lasts much longer than the anaesthetizing cocktails of the past.

I offer 1:1 and group Performance Confidence programmes, available both online and in person.

My Reviews

Mrs J. Mills Head of Prep School Music – Lingfield College
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Following an engaging and thought-provoking INSET session on personality in music teaching pre-pandemic, I invited Jo back to Lingfield to share with our instrumental tutors some insights and approaches to increasing performance confidence in our pupils, which had declined during Covid. I was also aware that there are some children for whom performance anxiety has always been a real issue, leading to them underachieving in exams, and always being reluctant to perform as soloists. Jo's session challenged us all to think about how our own experiences as learners had influenced us as performers, and from there she was able to offer a real understanding of the minds of our pupils, with plenty of practical tips, as to how to how to move forward. I am now often invited into lessons, to listen to confident children who are pleased to have an audience. In a real testament to Jo, our latest exams all resulted in a Merit or Distinction, and I can highly recommend her well thought-out approach.
STBMus Oboe Student
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I joined a 6 week Performance Confidence course, led by Jo, which included group and 1:1 sessions. The group setting was friendly and non-judgmental and I was able to express myself without concern. Everyone brought ideas from their own experience, and it was very nice to hear different thoughts about each topic that we explored. In the group, I learned different techniques of how to deal with performance anxiety. The 1:1 sessions were more focused on my personal situation and through these, I was able to organize my priorities and to understand more about why problems occurs in different situations and how to deal with them. Thanks to Jo, I had my best audition and became not only more confident about performing, but also my whole life changed in a positive way.
ANMusic Student
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The coaching sessions with Jo were an amazing experience. I left each one feeling unblocked and able to think more clearly. The coaching has been, literally, life-changing.
BMFreelance Orchestral Musician
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It was so helpful to work meticulously through specific situations in which I had become anxious and to understand how powerful my thoughts were. By learning to think differently, and to regulate my emotions better, I have been able to transform my approach to performance.
Kerry NichollsDirector - Kerry Nicholls Dance
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I have felt supported by Jo in each and every session and trust the safe and courageous space that she creates. I wholly believe in the confidential nature of the relationship which enables me to take larger strides in my reflection. I enjoy the increased motivation that I feel post-session too, and the confidence it brings to take my next steps. I believe that our work together, leads me to a higher standard of performance across my business, as well as an abundance of energy to move forwards.
Performance Confidence Course participant 2022
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The Performance Confidence course has allowed me to identify mental barriers to what I want to achieve as a performer with a clarity that I'd never even conceived of. Not only have these issues been illuminated, but through the knowledge we received across the course and through the group and one-to-one discussions, I feel like I am now armed with a framework and a toolkit to help me address them. It's as if I've suddenly become aware of this whole other facet of performance that I've thus far been neglecting (or perhaps just hoping would sort itself out on its own). Rather than simply daunting, having now done the course, I see this as an exciting challenge to embark upon. Thank you Jo!
Performance Confidence Course participant 2022
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The course has been an incredible time of self-exploration and learning that we have the power over many things in our life through mental flexibility and acceptance. The course was very transforming for me and I think it would be extremely beneficial for every singer, as the connection between our bodies and minds is vital, as is self-acceptance. The tools that is this course offering are extremely important in dealing with anything in life, and I am grateful to Jo for creating the course.
Marie VassiliouLyric Soprano and Vocal Professor at Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School of Music and Drama
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I am writing to let you know how incredibly helpful your sessions were for my student JM. She often mentioned them in lessons and yesterday brought along a booklet that you used with her. J was thrilled with the positive effect it had and I am very pleased to report that her final recital was super - she was full of confidence, invention and creativity and she duly received a wonderful set of comments and final mark. Thank you for your wonderful support and teaching.

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