Mental Training

Because of increasingly high educational standards and the correspondingly high levels of competition for fewer and fewer fixed positions, the ability to perform to the best of one’s ability in auditions is more important than ever. To help prepare for this one all-important, career-deciding moment, we call upon the same techniques used by professional athletes: coaching, mental training, and video analysis.

Regular mental training is offered by our long-time concertmistress Karin Boerries, a qualified mental coach. With her, the members learn how to manage their practice schedules and personal lives, as well as how to deal with stressful situations. Additionally, they analyze their performances together and learn how an orchestra functions from the inside out.


Allowing artistic potential to unfold –

Mental Training in the PHO

by Karin Boerries  (

“For musicians, the orientation towards a specific instrument begins as early as primary school, at the same time as the child learns to read and write. String players often begin their musical education even earlier. Our academists were therefore tied to their instruments before they even knew that their talent and passion would eventually dedicate them to this vocation.

In an audition scenario, candidates must demonstrate several qualities to the orchestra. Without question, they must be perfectly prepared, with no obvious technical deficiencies. Even more importantly, however, they must show that they are complete musicians with mature, developed ideas and distinct musical personalities.

The first year in an orchestra is for each young musician an exceptional challenge. In the trial period, the new colleague is closely observed as they adapt to the orchestra and learn how to best demonstrate their abilities. They are evaluated on their body language, versatility, sound concept, ensemble skills, and various other qualities. Each orchestra has established its own set of priorities, and so will assign varying degrees of emphasis on each of these skills.

New orchestral members are suddenly expected to acquire a completely new skill set. As students, they focused on developing their uniqueness, strength, and power as soloists, but in their orchestral trial period, fitting in with the group becomes the new priority, learning to blend in seamlessly with the orchestra while maintaining their individuality. A tough balancing act: the leap from I to WE must be mastered. During this difficult and demanding transition period, coaching and guidance are especially helpful.

As the former Concertmistress of the Frankfurt Opern- und Museumsorchester, I am especially familiar with these orchestrally specific challenges. As a certified mental coach, I work individually on a weekly basis with each academist. I make myself available to them as their personal point of contact for all questions or problems they encounter in their daily orchestral life. In addition, I simulate auditions, and review the videotapes later with the academist in a safe and positive environment. I encourage an open exchange of constructive ideas and initiate discussions.

Last but not least, I see myself as a link between the academists and the Orchestra – artistic potential will only unfold where open communication is possible.”

Karin Boerries was Concertmistress of the Frankfurt Opern- und Museumsorchester for 26 years. She is a licensed mental coach and directs the training of the Paul-Hindemith Academy.