Here you will find the Short Version, the Third Person Version (which you can use if you are preparing internal marketing for your organization where I will be presenting), and finally, if you scroll way down, the Long Version, where you’ll learn that we really are in this together.
The Short Version
I am a Juilliard-trained professional orchestral musician. A few years ago, after performing inconsistently during high-stakes auditions, I went back to school to study psychology, physiology, and counselling. I discovered all sorts of nifty things about how not to be nervous. This helped me to succeed at my dream audition, and I landed a spot in the orchestra of the Canadian Opera Company.
I created the Master Performing program specifically to help others to prepare for their high-stakes career moments and nail them. My material brings the preparation tools and performance mindset of elite athletes and performers to professionals in all disciplines.
I work with people in science, law, technology, finance, and of course, the performing arts.
The Third-Person Version
Lisa coaches professionals on optimal preparation and performance in high-stakes interactions, with a focus on the prevention and management of stage fright and building confidence. Her unique approach integrates her professional orchestral performing career and formal training in psychology, physiology, and counselling.
She has coached business professionals in preparation for speaking competitions, interviews, marketing conventions, conferences, presentations, pitches, and other high-stakes moments. In the performing arts, she has coached professional orchestral musicians and soloists, and stage, film, and commercial actors.
Combining her elite-level performing experience with a Certificate in Psychology from Ryerson University and an Advanced Counselling Skills Certificate from George Brown College in Toronto, Lisa has developed a curriculum which brings the preparation techniques and mental skills of athletes and performing artists to professionals in all disciplines.
Lisa relates personally to the intricacies of high-stakes performance, bringing a performing artist’s perspective to the practitioner’s side of the fence. With orchestral performance training from McGill University (Licentiate Music Diploma, High Distinction in Bassoon) and The Juilliard School (Advanced Certificate and Professional Studies), Lisa is currently a tenured member of the Canadian Opera Company orchestra.
The Long Version
As a professional musician having trained at some of the finest institutions and competed on the world’s stage in the form of orchestral auditions in Canada, the USA, Europe, and the UK, you might assume that I know how to be calm under pressure. Well, I am pretty good at handling pressure now—but I wasn’t always. In fact, it took me a decade or so of really thinking about it and studying it to figure it out.
I’ve had to deliver my best performance wearing two left shoes (packing accident). I once performed Mahler’s whole entire 5th symphony with one of Canada’s top orchestras with a piece of a carrot stuck in my nose (backstage sneeze). It was most uncomfortable, as you might imagine, but I managed. I also once had to perform an audition for a major American orchestra with a pecan stuck in my nose (another backstage snacking sneeze).
It wasn’t just about having to deal with root vegetables and tree nuts lodged in my nose during big moments, though. It was much more than that—I just never knew when I’d nail it, and when I’d fail it.
At the peak of my audition career, I was routinely making it to the final or semi-final rounds of auditions with some fine and fancy orchestras (New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra) and sometimes playing weeks-long trials for plum positions (Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Royal Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Toronto Symphony). On the other hand, I was routinely not getting the job that I wanted and worked so hard for. Heck, sometimes I was not even making it past the first competitive round, ending up instead in the trash heap of demoralized players dismissed after a first hearing. Your six minutes are up. The list of those orchestras is way too long to print.
Why was I sometimes sailing and other times flailing? I was prepared on my craft, there was no doubt about that.
Turns out, what I was not prepared on was my peak performance mindset. In fact, I hadn’t even realized that there was such thing as a peak performance mindset. I just thought that either you were good at what you do, or bad at what you do; and if you were good at what you do, you’d succeed, and if you were failing, it meant you weren’t that good after all. Even though I knew deep inside that I was good at what I did, I always seemed to be bad at it when it mattered—and that translated to a lot of conflicting and negative circular thought patterns.
After years of performing inconsistency during high-stakes moments, I went back to school in psychology, physiology, and counselling. I discovered all the things that athletes do to prepare and keep themselves on track, and now I’ve put them all together to share with you so that you don’t have to go back to school, switch careers, or be miserable.