Do your palms sweat every time you get up in front of others to perform? If you get nervous when all eyes are on you, you’re not alone. Most musicians, at some point in their careers, have experienced stage fright or battled nerves. But forget the age-old advice of imagining the audience in their underwear – here the steps to follow that really work for overcoming stage fright…
Step 1: Self-Assessment
Get to know yourself as a musician and as a performer. For example…
– What are your capabilities and limitations as a performer?
– Ask yourself: “What am I really afraid of?” Worst-case scenario—you run off the stage and everyone laughs hysterically. That’s unlikely, and might give you perspective into the realities of what it is you are really afraid of.
– Try not to confuse self-assessment with self-criticism!
Step 2: Gradual Exposure and Preparation
– Look for opportunities for exposure to mild to moderate levels of stress that challenge but do not overwhelm your coping skills, such as visualization of the performance.
– Other examples: practice performances, dress rehearsals, taping yourself and playing back.
– Be thoroughly prepared. Nothing replaces adequate time spent in rehearsal and practice! (See also: How to REALLY Maximize Your Practice Time).
Step 3: During the Performance
– Rather than blocking out the audience, or seeing them in their underwear, try seeing them as allies who are generally supportive and want you to do well.
– Remember, most performers have to contend with anxiety – it comes with the territory. You’re in good company!
– Feelings of anxiety are natural, and can be used to your advantage.
– Act calmly, even if you feel nervous. The more you dwell on anxiety, the more you are likely to remain preoccupied with it.
– Try to overlook errors when you perform. Overall impressions are more important to the audience than note-perfect performances.
– Enjoy what you’ve accomplished! Others are more likely to enjoy it this way, too.
Step 4: After the Performance
– Temper external feedback with internal beliefs and expectations you have already established.
– Asking others for feedback without asking yourself first might be depriving yourself of a significant source of valid information about your performance: YOU.
View the full article, Coping With Music Performance Anxiety, here.
If your music goals involve overcoming stage fright and building your stage confidence, we hope these tips help you perform your best. And if your nerves still get the best of you – don’t dwell on it afterward. Celebrate your accomplishments, and keep working toward your goal!
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