The Inner Game of Peak Performance Mastery, Why We Make Repeatedly Make Mistakes, & Utilizing “Centering” to Achieve Our Performance Potential w/ Dr. Don Greene

performance mastery

In the summer of 2017, I did a series of podcasts called Secrets of the Musical Mind. The goal of the podcast was to get into the heads of peak performers - almost all trumpet players - and discover what it was about their mental approach that enabled them to perform at a very high level. More than a few of the people I interviewed mentioned my guest for this episode, Dr. Don Greene. Naturally, I wanted to speak to him and a full year later, we were finally able to connect!

Dr. Don Greene, a peak performance psychologist, has taught his comprehensive approach to peak performance mastery at The Juilliard School, Colburn School, New World Symphony, Los Angeles Opera Young Artists Program, Vail Ski School, Perlman Music Program, and US Olympic Training Center. During his thirty-two year career, he has coached more than 1,000 performers to win professional auditions and has guided countless solo performers to successful careers.

Some of the performing artists with whom Dr. Greene has worked have won jobs with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Opera, Montreal Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, National Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem, to name just a few.

Of the Olympic track and field athletes he worked with up until and through the 2016 Games in Rio, 14 won medals, including 5 gold. Dr. Greene has authored eight books including Audition Success, Fight Your Fear & Win, and Performance Success. In 2017, Dr. Greene was named a TED Educator and collaborated with musician Dr. Annie Bosler to produce the TED-Ed  How to practice effectively…for just about anything. The video went viral receiving over 25 million views across Facebook and YouTube.

Dr. Greene has just launched Winning on Stage, an online platform where he teaches what he has taught at Juilliard, the Colburn School and many others.

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In my conversation with Dr. Greene, you'll hear...

-How a golf lesson with a professional bassist got Don into the business of teaching musicians how to perform under pressure...[10:30]

-Why Don is opposed to the use of beta blockers to enhance one's performing abilities...[16:30]

-How can a musician find a healthy balance between being a musician and a "competitor" with other musicians?...[18:00]

-Why Don believes that "muscle memory" is not what we think, and how something called myelin "trains our brain" through repetition, for better or worse...[24:00]

-The importance of proper visualization, or in his words, a "mental rehearsal" to achieve your performance goals...[38:30]

-Why Don started his own business teaching what he's taught at places like Juilliard and the Colburn School...[46:00]

-How Don overcame a deathly fear of public speaking early in his life and mastered public speaking using a technique called "centering"...[49:00]

-Why Don won't work with rock stars...[56:00]

And much more...

Recommended Resources:

Performance Success, by Dr. Greene.

I also recommend you listen to Jason Heath's conversation with Dr. Greene.

Have a question for me or Dr. Greene about today's episode? Just leave a comment below and we'll get back to you!


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About the author, James Newcomb

I'm a full time MusicPreneur. Every now and then I play music. Send me an email at!

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