Playing in The Zone…. amongst other things.

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A friend of mine asked Steve Gadd how he got himself into the right headspace when he performs and in a nutshell what he said was this: 

“I don’t play the music –  the music plays me”. 

Wow. How true. When you let go of all that inner-talk and just PLAY, you play from somewhere very, very deep inside. Your music comes from somewhere SO deep inside you that you wouldn’t be able to find it if you went looking for it. You just PLAY. The music just comes. This is what many musicians call ‘playing in the zone’. 

It’s got nothing to do with your technical ability or ‘chops’. When you play ‘in the zone’, your technique runs on auto-pilot and you don’t have to think about it.  Actually, I’m not keen on the term autopilot because it implies that you can disconnect and go and make a cup of tea. 

When you are in The Zone you are the opposite of being disconnected – you are actually sublimely integrated deeply to the music. You are connected to the music at a profound level.  To continue the ’autopilot’ analogy, it’s as if you are still piloting the plane but you’re simultaneously connected to every single control in the cockpit. You are so much part of the plane itself that you only have to think it, and the plane responds. 

Now, you may have experienced this already when you play a gig, but for many of us there’s too much conscious thought going on and there’s a little voice in your head that’s constantly questioning your abilities. You clam up. You make silly mistakes. You simply can’t get out of second gear. you know you SHOULD be abler to play better, yet something is stopping you. It is often our conscious thoughts and hangups rob us of the musical freedom of ‘playing in the zone’.

How would you play if that nagging voice was silenced? In recording sessions, how much more confidently would you play when the red light goes on? How wonderful would it be to simply let go and ENJOY the experience of playing no matter what the pressures were? 

There’s a ‘STOP’ sign. A barrier. A brick wall. 

Perhaps you play out of your skin when you are practising at home, but as soon as you are on the bandstand, or in a recording session, or taking an audition or exam, you clam up and don’t play the way that you know that you can. You’ve spent half your life working on your technique, your tuning, your breathing, your tone, your reading, your groove, yet you’ve neglected the most important part of you – your own internal psychology.

I’ve been there myself. I had issues and I sorted them out: I went for a few sessions of hypnotherapy. Within a few sessions all my internal, metaphorical stop signs had changed to internal, metaphorical rocket fuel. 

This was really powerful stuff – and all I had to do was sit in a comfy chair and listen to a therapist ramble on about seemingly random stuff. How the hell does THAT work? 

Well, you already have the resources inside you anyway – you just need to access them in given situations. I’m guessing there are plenty of times when you don’t consciously think about what you are doing, yet you do them sublimely brilliantly. That could be driving a car or playing a computer game or ice-skating. You have skills and abilities which you never question – you just get on with it – ie you are IN THE ZONE. 

The exciting news is that whilst in hypnosis you can drag and drop this ‘part’ of you into the part of you that really needs it. In other words you can take the ‘part’ of you that plays freely and musically when you practise in your garage on a Sunday afternoon and transplant that ‘part’ of you into the ‘you’ that plays on stage or in the recording studio.

So when you next perform you are able to access the same frame of mind – the frame of mind that allows you to do things with complete freedom – the frame of mind that we call being ‘IN THE ZONE’. 

Let’s take this a stage further. What would it be like if you were in the zone when you were sight reading? You know, at a very deep level, that you can read a newspaper quickly accurately and fluently. So, let’s drag and drop that belief across into your music reading. 

If you don’t know a semiquaver from a semi-colon this isn’t going to magically download the skill of reading music into your brain, but it will remove the belief that you are a crap sight reader and pave the way for big improvements.  You will approach sight-reading with a different background psychology – a much MUCH more positive one.

Imagine how fast you would progress if you were in the zone when you practise? Imagine being in the zone when you write songs – or symphonies – or improvise over Have You Met Miss Jones? Yes, this ZONE thing has wider implications than you may have thought. It depends largely upon what you believe.

Have you ever tried changing your beliefs? It’s not easy, is it? If you believe that something is impossible – it always will be! 

As I discovered – Hypnotherapy is great for changing  beliefs. 

Change your beliefs and your mental STOP signs dissolve away. You’ll be free to progress. You have loads more potential inside you than you believe – people refer to it as your ‘hidden potential’ – hidden potential is only hiding from the person that has it! And that’s YOU!

So: change the belief and the potential automatically starts to shine through. Do what I did. Have a few hypnotherapy sessions. Read up on the subject. Take some courses. You’ll soon see how self-administering some self-hypnosis techniques is exactly like self-administering any of the thousands of non-prescription medications that you can buy over the counter at the pharmacy. Shame they don’t teach you how to do this at music college 🙁

If you want to give it a whirl, I’m giving away six videos and a bunch of hypnosis MP3s completely FREE. Follow the link at the end of this post.  It’s all yours to keep – so you’ve nothing to lose. 

The Free stuff gives you a thorough foundation of knowledge and you’ll understand how and why this stuff works. Then when you are ready for the full-on Pre-Gig Pep-Talk / Playing In the Zone, turbo-practice, timekeeping, pitch-and-tuning, creativity, memory and Accelerated Learning stuff, then the rest of the course is there for you.

If you teach, (which you do because learning is basically teaching yourself) I’ve included some strategies in the course which I’ve never shared before. There are plenty of sneaky tricks that make it impossible for your students not to learn. It’s very powerful and it’s very easy. 

To thank you for reading all the way to the end of this, and to help me understand which bit of social media shenanigans works the best, if you put THIS CODE ‘PlayInTheZone’ into the coupon text field on the website I knock a massive £200 quid off.  The course winds up costing you the equivalent of a few sets of strings or drum sticks. 

Don’t think of the COST, think of the VALUE. 

Head over to to check it out right now. 

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Do NOT use any of the hypnosis material whilst driving or operating machinery.
If you have any mental condition or are on medication, consult your doctor.
The author accepts no responsibility for the use or mis-use of any of the material  here.

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