The Goldilocks Conundrum Part I: Just Right


Part I: Just Right

I often think of Goldilocks and her infamous particularity during lessons.

Scenes go something like this…

Question: “What are you doing?”

Answer: “I’m trying to not go too far back or too far forward.”

or, “I’m trying to not to be tense, but not too relaxed.”

or, “I don’t want it to sound too bright or too dark.”

You get the idea, I imagine. Not this and not that. This porridge is too hot, this one’s too cold…

Like Goldi, we are looking for JUST RIGHT.

But the pivotal, obvious, necessary (and oft un-asked) question is:

What does “just right” actually mean?

What do you actually want? What would qualify as just right? Be specific. Describe in detail what you want.

  • I want a balanced state of uprightness that is energized and comfortable.
  • I want a vocal quality that is dimensional and flexible, with a great deal of resonance.
  • I want my backflips to appear spontaneous and agile, with an unexpected beginning and a clean, sharp ending.
  • I want my porridge to be exactly 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

The not-this and not-that strategies have something key in common — they all contain information only about what is not desired.

What is needed is specific detail about what is desired. We coordinate to do something. In order to avoid the undesirable, we must have an active aim and a plan to enact. This is constructive thinking.

Developing an effective, reliable plan requires specific information about what we want.

Some helpful questions to ask:

What do I want? What am I doing to get what I want?

How’s that going? What other information or tools might I need?

What other strategies might I try?

What’s my criteria for deciding whether something works? What information would help me establish that?

Information about what we don’t want is useful information. It’s just not the whole story.


Photo by TeeLamb.

Kate Conklin is a performance coach and teacher of voice and the Alexander Technique. Kate specializes in helping world-class performers whose work requires excellent technique and profound artistry. She teaches in Los Angeles and remotely via Skype.

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