I am writing this article on New Year’s morning, 2018. I woke up today and welcomed the new year with the thought of making some resolutions – a ritual that is common for many of us. Have you made any yet? Accomplished any so far? Broken any? Writing this blog has been on my mind for many days – and I just did it – one 2018 resolution done. Feels good.

As musician I realize that the term resolution has musical connotations. Composers resolve dissonant harmonies (or do not resolve them). Consider the tritone as a dissonant interval begging for resolution – sing the opening of the song Maria in “West Side Story” to get the tritone sound in your ear. You will notice that as you sing this three whole-tone interval on “Mari” that it aurally longs for and resolves on the “a” to complete the name, Maria, and to create a resolved, consonant sound.

Tony introduces Maria with the words “it is the “most beautiful sound I ever heard” as he offers this love song. But throughout West Side Story, the tritone often does not resolve – it is enigmatic and connotes tension, not resolution. In fact the love between Maria and Tony creates tension in the show. The tritone is a brilliant compositional device used by Leonard Bernstein to illustrate through music the tensions and lack of resolution inherent in the libretto and in the minds and actions of the two rival gangs, the Sharks and Jets, throughout the show.

As a psychologist and psychoanalyst, I think of another meaning when I consider the idea of resolution. For instance, when people are unsure about how to solve a problem, they are conflicted about what to do or think. Just imagine, for simplicity sake, you are not sure whether to take an umbrella with you (or wear boots where I live) or if you should wear a sweater or short sleeve shirt today (again, in our sub zero temps these days, I am not conflicted about what to wear). You may feel conflicted about how to resolve or solve your clothing uncertainties when you venture outside. Although the weather prompts you to feel a conflict in the rather simple examples above, people are conflicted emotionally in their minds about how to solve many difficult dilemmas.

Stage fright represents a more complex emotional conflict than how to dress. For example, you love to play your instrument, you practice hard, you are talented, your are smart. So you wonder WHY do I have stage fright when I am prepared, smart, talented? Why should I feel so nervous that it interferes with I know what I can do well (in private!) I discuss how to resolve – or come to terms with – this conflict in “Managing Stage Fright”. This is a complicated conflict, and like many New Year’s resolutions. Just remember, however, that some conflict is good – it can be a positive energyl that keeps you on your toes – and to be spontaneous. It is the overabundance of conflict that gets in the way of confident performing and managing your stage fright.

I would like to offer an idea that may help with managing (if not always keeping) both New Years and stage fright resolutions. First of all, be kind to yourself and not critical if you slip up from time to time. Further, I am sure, like most of us, you often resolve to pick up the clutter, to wipe off a food stain from the kitchen counter, to hang up your coat, and/or to be on time more frequently. But somehow these simple tasks can slip by with rationalizing “I will do it later”. And later never seems to come – with more and more tasks piling up so that you may eventually feel overwhelmed and never get to what you intended to do but put off. Time to Re Solve the problem with a RE Solution.

Consider this – when you want to do something do it NOW. No putting off, no excuses, no rationalization. With music, change the fingering offered by a teacher, work on scales (boring, I know, but technique building!!), fix the wrong note. Your brain records every error as well as every right note and musical gesture. If you continue to repeat errors when learning and practicing your music, it will be much much more difficult to fix them later……..procrastination and not resolving musical issues can result in performance anxiety and insecurities when playing in public. You mind remembers what you put into it – so put in correct responses ASAP – resolve to do it NOW – fix it NOW. Make solutions – and avoid needing to make Re Solutions. You will be rewarded with a greater sense of confidence when you walk out on stage.

Try the Fix it NOW as one of your 2018 resolutions – a healthy resolution that becomes habit-forming because you quickly see positive results and realize that fixing it NOW helps you feel self-assured and more in control when you experience stressful situations.

I would love to hear from you – please send a response below. Do it NOW!

Happy New Year!

Photo: Martin Hauenstein
CCO – Pexels