Photo by Milena Parobczy
Public speaking and stage fright are one of the most common phobias in the world. Many people suffer from music performance anxiety – you are not alone if you do. Below are 5 tips to help you conquer your music performance nerves.
What is the first tip to help you better deal with music performance anxiety?
Remember that all of your friends and family in the audience are there to support you. The judging panel wants you to do well. Everyone in the audience is impressed that you’re accomplishing your performance goals, and we admire you for facing your stage fright fears head on. We are all sending you positive vibes to play a successful concert.
Remember that your nerves show that you care.
Remember that this is just one concert of hundreds of performances that you will do. After each concert that you do, you’ll have so much to reflect on and apply to your next performance. You will continuously grow and improve.
Remember that performing is a skill that just needs more practice. The more you practice performing, the more skilled and comfortable you will be playing in front of an audience.
Remember that you’re awesome. You’ve worked hard practicing and preparing, and you have a good heart for wanting to share your music with others.
What is the second tip for conquering your performance nerves?
Can you think of someone that you really admire? Does your best friend exude confidence? Is there a musician that captivates you when they perform?
Start out by imitating the energy and mannerisms of a friend or someone that you look up to, and apply their confident presence to your practice at home.
What does this person wear on stage? Are they having fun? What is interesting about their performance?
Acting is a part of a musical performance too. It’ll take practice to feel comfortable showing an exaggerated musical performance compared to how you play by yourself at home, but you’ll find more freedom in expression and expand your range of musicality. Work on physically showing your musical ideas with your body and instrument. Connect the audience’s eyes to your sound.
By utilizing imitation in your practice over time, your individual performance persona will emerge.
What is the third tip in coping with performance apprehension?
Mental practice is very practical and effective, and you can do it anywhere. You can mental practice lying in bed or on a walk in the park. You can do your mental practice with your instrument and music in hand or you can do it without.
Get somewhere comfortable, close your eyes or keep them open, and start to go through your performance from start to finish in your mind. Visualize yourself feeling and embodying confidence, joy, and being prepared. Hear the audience clapping for you as you walk on stage, bow, place the music on the stand, and play your music through in your mind from the beginning to the end, and walk off the stage.
Try this visualization exercise each day for a week. How do you feel after each visualization? Are you feeling less nervous? Be your own teacher. What do you need to practice for tomorrow after the visualization practice? Did you keep perspective while you were playing? Did you struggle to imitate the person you admire while you performed?
By the time you get to the physical performance, you will have already performed mentally many times.
What is the fourth tip in improving your performance anxiety?
Daily movement is vital, especially before and/or after times of stationary practicing.
The body needs fresh air and a change of pace to release built up energy.
The brain will greatly appreciate a break in a new environment, preferably outside in nature.
It’s no surprise that lots of musicians are also long distance runners because there needs to be a good balance in deliberate musical instrument practice and also maintenance of your individual body and mind as an instrument.
Sweating also helps to release toxins, and exercise produces happy endorphins to help calm the mind and relax the body, especially when you are nervous about an upcoming audition or interview.
What is the fifth tip for working through music performance anxiety?
5. Go Caffeine Free
Coffee, energy drinks, non-herbal teas – All of these will increase any nervous energy that you have.
Caffeine and sugar cause the heart to beat fast and more intensely when you’re nervous so your hands and feet will be cold, clammy, and shaky. Your vision will blur, and your mind will race even more with caffeine in your body. Calmness and control will be a distant feeling of the past.
It is important to have control over a healthy body and mind so your soul can guide the way for sharing your beautiful music.