"First we conquered the performance anxiety and confidence issues I was experiencing as a professional musician. Then we moved on to growth and expansion in every other area of my life. Coaching with Michael has truly been the best decision I've ever made for my own mental well-being!"
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
You struggle with severe performance anxiety and would like another option besides quitting, white-knuckling it, or becoming dependent on beta blockers.
You've taken many auditions but haven't achieved the success you hoped for. Now you're wondering if you should keep pursuing music or go in a different direction.
You have a successful career but you're not feeling fulfilled in the ways you hoped you would be. Something seems to be missing. You're not sure why or what to do about it.
You're feeling frustrated because sometimes you play really well but other times you can't seem to get out of your own way. You make things a lot harder and more stressful than they need to be.
You have trouble sleeping after concerts because you're obsessing about the one passage that didn't go the way you wanted. It's exhausting.
That one conductor/stand partner/co-worker annoys you to no end and the idea of spending your foreseeable future having to interact with this person makes you want to quit. You feel stuck.
You're an accomplished professional yet find it difficult to advocate on your own behalf. It's difficult to ask for what you want and you tend to do anything to avoid conflict. You feel resentful but the idea of communicating your needs doesn't feel good either.
If any of the above scenarios resonate with you, you are not alone.
Hi, I'm Michael.
As a professional freelance musician for fifteen years and a member of the Montreal Symphony for twelve, I know about the realities of a life in music-- the pressure to perform and to maintain the highest standards under any conditions, the competitiveness of the audition process, the demanding schedule, the travel, the politics, the culture, the difficult personalities and big egos, the physical and emotional demands, and the elusive nature of finding balance in your life.
And I know the toll it can all take on a musician's sense of wellbeing and happiness.
I have personally experienced what it's like to suffer from severe performance anxiety, to feel so discouraged by the audition process that you wonder if you should do something else with your life, to lose a tenured position due to an orchestra declaring bankruptcy, to finally have attained your dream job and still feel unfulfilled, and to feel alone through it all.
And I also know what it's like to heal your relationship to music and to create peace of mind without having to lower your performance standards.
In fact, when you have peace of mind you play better than ever before.
My approach is based on cultivating congruence with your whole self.
Too many self-help methods tell you to just create better habits, change your thoughts, choose who you want to be instead, or that you need more willpower, determination, and self-discipline.
The problem with the "toxic positivity" of these common methods is that they can create more tension, exhaustion, frustration, and shame. They don't effectively address underlying issues or help you cultivate a healthier relationship with yourself. They set up an internal struggle within yourself and when you are in conflict with yourself, a part of you always loses.
My work is based on three main principles:
Identifying the parts of yourself that are in conflict, creating resistance, and getting in the way of where you want to go.
Bringing compassion and understanding to those parts of yourself so you can discover what needs they are trying to fulfill.
Integrating those parts so you can become more aligned and congruent with yourself.
I will create the perfect space for you to experience deep, cathartic healing so you can enjoy the lightness, confidence, and peace of mind that come from a much healthier relationship with yourself.
When all the parts of you are pointed in the same direction and working together, the resistance that was getting in your way just disappears. The results that come from that are truly life changing!
Why Choose me?
As a professionally certified hypnotherapist, NLP practitioner, and life coach, I combine my training in change work with my 27 years of experience in the music world to help and support professional musicians who are going through their own struggles, whether in their career, their personal lives, or a combination of both.
I support my clients in the areas of:
Performance Excellence: audition preparation, performing under pressure, overcoming performance anxiety and negative self-talk, increasing focus and confidence.
Career issues: overcoming burnout, reconnecting to your joy and passion for music, imposter syndrome, managing difficult workplace relationships, advocating on your own behalf, attaining specific goals, creating greater work/life balance.
Personal development: managing stress, anxiety and overwhelm, navigating difficult life transitions, overcoming procrastination, eliminating phobias, clearing emotional blocks, getting clarity around important decisions, improving relationships, creating boundaries, and emotional healing.
My rapidly growing list of delighted clients includes professional musicians, writers, film directors, academics, entrepreneurs, and coaches.
Through this work I strive to help musicians better manage the demands of their life and career in ways that foster a healthier relationship with themselves, create peace of mind, and make being a musician fun again!
How to work with me
I currently offer two-hour sessions at the following rates.
Single session: $180
Three sessions: $500
Six sessions: $950
Twelve sessions: $1800
Because I believe it is important to make this help available to those who need it most, I do offer a limited number of slots at a reduced fee. Please contact me for more information.
You have certainly had the most profound impact on my life imaginable. Every element in my life has done a complete 180 in the past year!
I just wanted to write briefly to thank you for our first session last week! I incorporated the ideas we spoke about and ended up winning the audition this past Tuesday. The tools you gave me really helped!
Looking forward to our next session!
Before working with Michael, I was feeling a lot of anxiety, tension, and fear when I had to play something important or a solo or things like that. I wanted to take auditions, be principal bassoon, but I had this thought in the back of my head like, "But don't you remember, you're getting scared all the time. So maybe you can't do that."
But after working with Michael, I don't think that way. I know I have the tools and they work so I'm just much more confident and I know what to work on and how to do it. I know that even when I'm scared, I can do it and I know how to work with those feelings.
What Michael is doing is very important. I would recommend him to anyone who struggles with performance anxiety or who feels they can not express themselves under pressure. Working with Michael gave me more confidence and allowed me to perform much better under pressure.
If someone is on the fence or shy about reaching out, I would say give it an honest try. I know it's scary because it's kind of like exposing yourself, your deep feelings. But the scariest things are the ones we need to work on the most. It's also nice to have someone who is a professional musician in a big orchestra who does this kind of work. He understands where we come from, and what are the feelings, so it feels more comfortable to talk about that with him.
My work with Michael was extremely groundbreaking for me. To be able to have the tools and to be able to see that there was a way to imagine and create myself, I haven't done this kind of work with anybody else.
It wasn't always easy. There were difficult moments because I was dealing with a lot of stuff that was very painful and hard for me. But the beauty of it and what kept me at it is because of how I would feel at the end of every session and seeing the result of it. The way how my physical, mental, and emotional state would change right in the moment as Michael was working with me was really quite impressive.
The work we did gave me a much greater sense of peace. It just made me calmer knowing there was a way to deal with all this stuff in a much healthier way instead of having my emotions take over and overwhelm me.
There is something about Michael's approach, the way he listens, the way he's able to articulate and sense what the other person is trying to say or what they are feeling and being able to use the right words at the right time that's extremely impressive. Michael is a truly gifted person to be able to do this. It's a calling and not everyone can do that. People should take advantage of the fact that there is somebody who is extremely in tune and bright and intelligent, who's got the vocabulary to help people understand, which is really important.
I would recommend Michael to people who want to learn how to better deal with their emotions or want to have more of a say in how they deal with parts of their life that they feel they have no control over or where they feel they are stuck.
In two sessions, Michael helped me to completely eliminate my severe anxiety about an upcoming medical procedure and a life-long fear of heights. That result is very real for me and continues to be to this day a year and a half later.
Now I just tend not to experience the anxiety and fear I used to. It's just gone. It's not something that bothers me anymore and that's been an almost miraculous experience!
Michael is an incredible and gifted hypnotherapist and coach. Totally on the fly, he facilitated a 50 minute session on a phobia of mine (getting my blood drawn) that has plagued me since childhood, causes instant and prolonged panic attacks, and has only gotten worse as an adult. During our session, he expertly guided me through navigating this trigger, patiently working with me as I unpicked and moved through difficult feelings and body sensations, until I finally landed in a place where I felt genuine peace, neutrality, and empowerment around an area of my life that even the mere thought of has always felt crippling. I feel like a completely different person around this area of my life, and also have some new, simple-yet-effective tools to use in case any remaining fears or panic rises up again. I'm truly so grateful. Thank you Michael!
I have never felt so listened to, cared for, held, and seen in my life. That was amazing! I can see why you are so successful. You have a true gift of presence with a person. Working with you has been one of the best decisions I've ever made and I look forward to more sessions and more growth in the future.
Michael's coaching is lifechanging!!! I really appreciate his approach and his skills.
When I started working with Michael, I was in a major that I disliked, I had a job that I disliked, and I felt unmotivated. I didn't have a work ethic and I didn't know how to accomplish the tasks I needed to accomplish, especially if there was more than one task. I didn't have executive functioning skills.
Michael is like a great gym for the mind because he stimulates growth. You still have to do the work but he stimulates the growth.
Now I'm so proud of myself because I'm capable of completing a mountain of tasks much more smoothly. I'm no longer missing assignments, I'm no longer pushing away my responsibilities. I'm much better at making choices and I'm on a path of success now. And I don't think I could have gotten there without his advice.
Each session with Michael is like a suspended moment with oneself. Michael is always listening, unconditionally welcoming, and non-judgmental. Our sessions enabled me to tame several fears that had conditioned different aspects of my life. In fact, it’s more accurate to say that our sessions enabled me to welcome, understand, and accept those fears, the better to let them go. But what I remember most was the incredible feeling of inner peace I experienced in each of our encounters. The peace you find every time you manage to cross over to the other side of fear is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
Since we don't see each other this week, I wanted to check in and let you know how great everything is going. I've noticed so many positive changes since starting to work with you, and am feeling much more confident and comfortable with everything...my work, how I interact with people, and even (somewhat surprisingly) how people interact with me. The work you do is amazing. Thank you so much!
My session with Michael was very revealing and eye opening. He really helped me sort through the doubts in my head and clear the dust to get to the root of what really drives me and where my focus needs to be for me to be truly happy and fulfilled, not only in my career, but in my personal life as well. I’ve always struggled with getting things started and taking the first step, and this session was more like a first leap. He really took the time that was needed and asked all the right questions to help me find the right mindset to move forward and stop staying stagnant. Thank you Michael for being so patient and helping me realize what I already knew but couldn’t see.
When I first started working with Michael, I was at a pretty low point in terms of how I viewed myself and how I viewed my career. I thought it would be hard for me to open up about stuff like that but that turned out not to be the case at all. In fact, Michael was able to meet me exactly where I was and those worries went away very quickly.
One of my favorite parts of working with Michael was learning how to approach a situation or issue from multiple angles. I'm used to processing my experiences intellectually, but approaching them at a more body-based and emotional level is where I felt the most benefit and even joy.
My biggest transformation was being aware of my emotions in an accepting way. Previously, I would ignore or avoid them as much as possible because they were a source of stress and concern. Now I'm able to be with and incorporate my emotions and those parts of myself in a way that honors them and is much healthier and feels much more comfortable.
I would recommend Michael to anyone who produces content in any medium and has self-confidence issues. In my experience, there’s a lot of vulnerability and shame that can gunk up the creative process at the very start and then it produces this continuing habit of not creating anything and you spiral into a bad spot. I think doing a deep investigation into the emotional aspects of content creation is something a lot of people would benefit from if they’re feeling any stress about it.
Coaching with Michael was a great experience. He is very welcoming and I felt very comfortable sharing my thoughts and problems during our session. Michael connected some dots I hadn’t realized at all before. The insights he provided made a lot of sense and I got the tools needed to continue on my journey forwards as a musician and a human being. I can really recommend Michael's services to any musician!
I am still very glad that I had those discussions with you last summer, I think I would not have the same kind of pandemic year without them.
Thank you again!
Talking to Michael unlocked truths inside me I had never been able to face, and he made it so easy! Since my session with him, my mindset has evolved to a point where I’m comfortable with myself, and I’ve dispensed with much of the self-criticism I used to subject myself to. I can let go and be myself now. Something about his logic just clicked with me and stayed that way; I’ve had a feeling of relief ever since and have maintained a sense of energy and purpose. I am so grateful to him for sharing his gift of compassion, understanding, and clarity!
When I started coaching with Michael, I was really hoping for a shift in my life and thinking. I felt stuck in some areas and was hoping for a breakthrough. The experience working with him was very positive. I felt like I not only achieved what I had hoped for, but much faster than I expected. He is good at what he does and I felt safe with him, so that was helpful to my process. This was one of the most powerful and authentic ways I have experienced to help shift my energy, provide new perspectives, and aid in emotional healing. I have more tools to understand and process my feelings and experiences. This feels both inspiring and liberating. My sense of wellbeing has more depth, my confidence and trust have grown, and I feel more excited, optimistic, and dedicated within my life.
A grateful musician in transition
A session with Michael is better than drugs!
I came to work with Michael to improve my relationship with my teenage son. He was recommended to me by a mutual friend who touted his ability to work through the weeds and really get to the essence of why we're just not feeling 100 percent.
I had never done any therapy before and wasn't used to talking with somebody who could actually reverberate with me, but Michael did that in a way that made me feel comfortable. He was able to winnow down through the noise and get me to the point where I could see how I had been fooling myself and he called me out on it, which was great. But he never made me feel stupid or made me go quiet. His voice and his approach to dealing with hard stuff are very calming. Being able to discuss your inner feelings, how you deal with stuff, how you live day-to-day, with someone who's heard it all before and who won't judge you and will give you the tools to not judge yourself; to work through the bumps, the hills, and sometimes the mountains, it's worth every penny.
When thinking about the difference between how I felt before and how I feel now, there's no comparison. I feel like I'm a good parent. My son and I are 100 percent closer now. He calls me out of the blue. He answers when I call. We have an amazing relationship now. Both of our children have said to us that they feel lucky to have parents like us. They feel like they can come to us with a problem and we can talk about it. And there's just more love. I feel much happier now. Wow!
I would recommend Michael to people who are afraid of therapy, who don't want to talk to a shrink, or people like me who have never done therapy and didn't feel they needed it until finally, it was like, "I feel bad all the time and I need it."
Michael has an intimate knowledge of what it's like to balance vulnerability and the pursuit of excellence. He is able to hold a kind and compassionate space for safe exploration, rare to find in a classically trained musician.
Working with Michael has deeply impacted my performance, my well-being, and helped me to recover from a deep episode of anxiety in a way that felt so genuine and rock solid within myself.
I would recommend Michael to any musician who is grappling with connecting their well-being to their craft.
So often we think that there is something wrong with us when we feel a dissonance between the messages our hearts are giving us and the demands of the music industry. This work is so valuable, because it helps us bridge our humanity to our aspirations of musical excellence.
You can't put a price on the place that Michael has helped me find within myself and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to work with him.