If you’re a regular reader of my writing, you’ll know that I’ve been connected with John Beder and the documentary, “Composed,” since its inception almost two years ago. “Composed” is a documentary that explores performance anxiety in professional classical musicians, a topic that has historically been ignored.
Through the lens of professional classical musicians, Composed explores the many ways we experience and can address performance anxiety. Faced with the judgment of peers, audience, conductors, and worst of all themselves, these musicians spend years trying to understand and overcome the physical and mental manifestations of their anxiety. Through their stories, we learn valuable lessons learned over a lifetime of professional performance; and we find that we are not alone in our quest to overcome the fear of failure and embarrassment. For anyone wanting to feel strength over fear and compassion over judgment, or simply seeking a closer look at anxiety and what makes us tick, Composed opens the door to a world of high stakes, high pressure, and peak performing.
We were initially connected by a mutual friend from Boston, and I’ve been truly amazed at what John has accomplished since our first conversation in the winter of 2015. This month, “Composed” hits the road with its American showings at a series of different music colleges and venues, including New York City, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and many more. With 61 interviews completed, and over 120 hours of footage collected, this project has extended far beyond what John or I had expected in our initial interview. The documentary began its funding as a kickstarter campaign with a $4500 initial investment, and John and his wife used personal funds to finish the project.
The first public showing occurred this past week at the New England Conservatory in Boston, MA, and received an overwhelmingly positive response from both students and faculty. Rachel Roberts, Director of Entrepreneurial Musicians at New England Conservatory, wrote, “The film ‘Composed’ addresses the topic of performance anxiety in a comprehensive and approachable way. The story-telling and personal narratives woven throughout the film showcase how this topic impacts nearly every musician, as well as suggests a variety of individual and different strategies to help overcome the issue. Most importantly, this film begins a public conversation around a topic that has too often been buried from artistic practice. This film should be required viewing at every music school!”
Vanessa Mulvey, Body Mapping® Instructor at New England Conservatory wrote, "Composed captured so many of the experiences I have been through in my musical career. It was comforting to realize one is not alone in this journey and to see the different paths available to change the way one responds to performance anxiety! There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you, John!
I contacted John for his initial reaction about the premiere, and he wrote back, “ We had a great response on Tuesday and I was relieved to finally show a group of strangers our entire film. It’s weird how even as people continue to compliment the work I struggle with the same self doubt musicians often describe. Regardless of my inner voice I heard compliment after compliment about how impactful it was. I was particularly moved by the panel’s reaction to seeing it and how much they related to the stories we share.”
This week’s premiere in New York City on Wednesday will feature a panel of notable music educators and thinkers including John Beder, Dr. Noa Kageyama, Gerald Klickstein, and Philadelphia Orchestra Principal French Horn, Jennifer Montone for discussion after the screening.Tweet
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