If you have been following along with me over the past few weeks I have been outlining the steps to realizing the true transformational power of the performing arts. Let’s begin with a recap.
- Self-awareness. Acknowledge and embrace the emotions, feelings and responses you have to performing and sharing your art with others.
- Practice performance. Be open and willing to practice your performance skills. Performance is a beautiful teacher. Performance is a skill to be mastered, not an event to be feared.
- Let go of perfectionism. Perfectionism and unrealistic performance expectations leads to anxiety and fear. Performance becomes enjoyable when we stop striving for perfection and focus on our artistry. How we talk to ourselves about performance and our ability to perform, greatly affects our performance outcomes and overall enjoyment of the experience.
- Join an arts community. A supportive and nurturing community is integral to positive and impactful artistic and performance experiences.
I’m sure the question you are asking is; but how do these four steps lead to personal transformation? Sure, I see the benefits, but transformation? Really?
I believe that the TRUE transformative power of the arts is the development of a strong sense of self-efficacy. Yes, self-efficacy. It’s not an attribute that we talk about very often, but we should! Self-efficacy affects EVERY aspect of human endeavour: psychological state, behaviour and motivation.1
Self-efficacy is the central concept to psychologist Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory (1977).2 Self-efficacy is defined as “a person’s belief that they can be successful when carrying out a particular task.”3 Self-efficacy strongly influences how a person sees their abilities and capacity in setting and achieving goals AND the power they have to face challenges.4 In essence, self-efficacy is one’s belief that they can and will succeed.
Individuals with a strong sense of self-efficacy:
- Develop a deeper interest in and engagement with the activities they choose to participate in;
- Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities;
- View challenges as tasks to be mastered; and
- Recover quickly from setbacks, failures and disappointments.5
Self-efficacy is powerful. A strong sense of self-efficacy leads to great accomplishments and overall positive well-being.6 Self-efficacy is where we draw our confidence, resilience and motivation from. Self-efficacy developed through the arts impacts EVERY aspect of our lives – truly.
Bandura identified four sources of self-efficacy: mastery experiences; vicarious experiences; social persuasion; and psychological responses.7 Let me tie the development of a strong sense of self-efficacy back to the four steps to realizing the true transformational power of the arts.
- Mastery Experiences → Practice Performance + Let Go of Perfectionism
Our sense of self-efficacy is strengthened by performing tasks successfully. Achieving challenging goals in difficult situations builds confidence and perseverance.
- Vicarious Experiences/Social Modeling → Join an Arts Community
According to Bandura, “Seeing people similar to oneself succeed by sustained effort raises observers’ beliefs that they too possess the capabilities to master comparable activities to succeed.”8 We believe we can succeed by observing others succeed.
- Social Persuasion → Join an Arts Community
Positive and encouraging feedback from others raises self-belief. Verbal encouragement from others helps us overcome self-doubt and focus on best effort.
- Psychological Responses → Self-Awareness
Our physical responses, emotions, moods, and stress levels play an important role in developing personal efficacy. How these responses are interpreted and perceived greatly affects one’s belief in their ability to be successful. Learning to be aware of our psychological responses is the first step in managing them positively.
Let me put this in context for you.
My husband and I are high school sweethearts (cue the “awws”). We met when I was 15 and he was 16. And, are you ready for this….we met at band camp. Yes, band camp! How cute. We both have a passion for music that was encouraged from a young age. I chose to pursue music professionally and my husband did not. As kids and teenagers we both were a part of active music communities, performed often as individuals and in ensembles, and had a deep commitment to our musical interests and community. Our parents believed that this was how we stayed out of trouble…or did we;)
Fast forward to last week. My husband had a series of interviews for a promotion at work. He was given a 200+ page study package to read and prepare for the interviews. The first interview involved a prepared presentation based on a specific question and a series of questions based on the study package. Each interview was timed and candidates had a limited amount of time to present and answer all questions. Each interview was conducted by a panel of high level executives.
For most people this was a high-stress, high-stakes situation and the anxiety was real. For my husband, his stress-level was relatively low and his mood was positive. He studied and prepared with diligence and when it came time for the interviews he was able to communicate with authenticity, skill and very few nerves. Why? Because he has a strong sense of self-efficacy.
Throughout his childhood (and adulthood) he engaged in mastery experiences where he successfully practiced his performance skills in challenging environments. He observed others succeed and believed he too could be successful with focus and practice. He received positive and encouraging feedback, which allowed him to focus on best effort NOT self-doubt. He became aware of his physical and psychological responses to performance situations from a young age and worked to manage them in a positive and healthy manner.
His strong sense of self-efficacy was practiced over and over again so he can perform effectively and confidently in a variety of settings, not just in music performance. The arts are powerful, and without a doubt, positive performance experiences carry with you throughout your life.
At its core, Donais Studios exists to help you develop a strong sense of self-efficacy through the beauty of the arts. We want our students to BELIEVE in themselves and their ability and capacity to succeed in whatever goal they set or task they want to achieve, now and in the future.
We believe in you and we want you to believe in yourself. Despite your artistic goals, we encourage all students to perform because we know that the transformative power of the arts can be fully realized through performance. You’ve got this and we are your biggest cheerleader!
Andrea “cheering you on” Donais
P.S. If you are interested in learning more about our The Artist Within program, I invite you to schedule a free introductory lesson to see how we can help you reach your goals and discover The Artist Within.
P.P.S. In case you were wondering….he got the promotion:)
1 Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-efficacy#cite_note-1
2 Albert Bandura: https://educational-innovation.sydney.edu.au/news/pdfs/Bandura%201977.pdf
3 Cambridge Dictionary: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/self-efficacy
4 Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-efficacy#cite_note-1
5 Verywellmind: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-self-efficacy-2795954
6 Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-efficacy#cite_note-1
7 Verywellmind: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-self-efficacy-2795954
8 Verywellmind: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-self-efficacy-2795954