Summertime, and the living is…intensive. Perhaps you’re planning to involve yourself in a challenging learning experience. Maybe a language immersion program, a training camp, a yoga retreat, a specialized festival. An intensive is a time out of your regular routine, whether at home or away, with an organized program designed to have you learn and do a lot in a short span of time.
The idea for this blog occurred to me last summer as I was in the midst of one such experience. I participated in an annual intensive, the Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria. The CMF brings together professional and advanced amateur musicians—choral singers and instrumentalists as well as a separate track for pianists—to rehearse and then perform major classical works. While I sat absorbed in listening to a piano recital, I began thinking about the mental preparation, action, and reflection that augments the actual experience of such an intensive.
Typically, one approaches an intensive or camp with some level of skill as well as, at times, performance preparation. For the singers at CMF, it involved being fairly knowledgeable about how to sing our parts for two major classical works. Yes, we would have time to come together under the Festival’s conductor to really learn our parts and bring the disparate vocal and instrumental musicians together. It struck me what’s important about these intensives is to prepare well, to be present during them, and then to take away and apply the important lessons that you have learned.
In order to get the most out of an intensive experience, here are some things to consider:
While you’re there
These types of reflection often work best if you write them down. One technique is to write a letter to your future self. You know that you will be the only person who will see it. Decide on a specific length of time, such as three or six months. When you’ve written your letter—complete with full salutation to yourself and signature—place it in an envelope, seal it, address it to yourself, put a stamp on it, and then hand it off to a (reliable!) friend. Ask that person to stick it in the mail at the appropriate time. You’ll be surprised how meaningful that letter from you…to you…will be.
Have fun on your adventure!
If you would like to contact me, whether regarding your own summer intensive or some other aspect of performance psychology, feel free to send me a note through my website, http://www.theperformingedge.com