Overcoming Performance Anxiety
With the Sono School of Music Concert coming up in December, I am writing this article to shed some light on the topic of performance anxiety. Performance anxiety is something that I have been personally affected by in the past, and is now something that I can effectively manage and use to my advantage. I have developed a number of different strategies to shift my thinking and see nerves in a more positive light.
You Are Your Own Harshest Critic!
It’s a known fact that all musicians are their own harshest critic. For a performer who suffers from performance anxiety, this is amplified even more. They push themselves into a deep state of worrying, and often times find themselves thinking about everything that can possibly go wrong with their performance on the day, rather than what can go right! For these performers their “fight or flight” instincts kick in, the same way they do when we are in a real life-threatening situation. As you can imagine, this is quite an unpleasant experience for the performer to go through. It can really compromise a performance and stop a musician from performing at the best of their ability.
Nerves Are Actually Useful!
It can’t be stressed enough though that nerves are actually a good thing! They tell you that you really care about your performance and you are passionate about doing well and impressing the audience. Below are three tips to consider leading up to the concert that will help you to manage your nerves and use them to your advantage. They will cover how to use your nerves to enhance your performance rather than let them take over and stop you from delivering the performance we know you are capable of.
In your lessons your coach has no doubt given you tips, skills and resources to ensure that you have a good performance. Chances are you have been coming to us for a while and you really know your stuff. Absorb absolutely everything that your coach tells you in your lessons and make sure you practice lots at home. If you are well rehearsed and know your stuff there is no way you are going to have a bad performance, even when you have nerves. I have found that being prepared is one of the simplest things I can do for myself leading in to performances. It allows me to relax and have peace of mind that my performance is going to be great! So, the first tip is to prepare so that you can have confidence in your playing abilities and know that you’ve got the skills, knowledge and ability to be great!
Take A Deep Breath
On performance day, take some time out to have a breather. Low, deep breaths help to relax you and make you feel more at ease. As well as this, I always find it helpful to find a friend, family member or even my music coach to have a chat to before I go on stage. These conversations don’t necessarily need to be about the music, but can be completely unrelated and act as a good distraction for some people.
I have delivered some of the best performances of my career when I have just completely let go of my thoughts, and said to myself “I’m just going to do this and this is going to be fun”. Sometimes this has meant that I have had to put a fake smile on my face despite feeling petrified on the inside, in order to get through the performance – but that’s okay! To the audience, it will look like you’re really having a great time on stage and they will instantly want to be involved with what you’re doing. Try and find someone in the audience who is really digging your performance and FOCUS ON THEM. This strategy is particularly useful for me and is something I aim to do in my performances.
My last tip is to SMILE when you’re on stage!!! Smiling is a great way to trick yourself into feeling more confident. The longer you trick yourself into feeling confident, the easier it will become to REALLY be confident.
I hope you find these tips to be helpful leading up to your big performance at the Judith Wright Centre in December. Remember to practise at home and really absorb the information that we give you in your lessons. Take a deep breath on concert day and just go for it!!! Remember that you will be performing for a supportive audience who have come to watch you really succeed and do not want to see you fail!
Best of luck for your performance!!!