Overcoming Stage Fright: 4 Important Steps

Boy with stage frightDo 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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You might also like…
What’s Causing Your Stage Fright?
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Music Lessons for Adults: It’s Never Too Late to Start!

guitar students

For adults with hectic schedules and limited free time, learning to play an instrument at this stage in their lives may seem like a pipe dream.  Sure, it would be fun to fulfill that childhood dream of learning to play the piano or jam on the guitar, but other priorities such as work or family commitments often prevent many adults from leaping into music lessons with the same enthusiasm they might have felt at a younger age.

But if you have the passion and desire to play music, it’s never too late to get started with lessons; in fact, there are many positive benefits for adults who take music lessons, including the following:

–Music lessons help with job skills such as creative thinking, collaboration, social aptitude, expressive communication, and confidence.
–Music lessons provide a creative outlet that balances work life, family life, and personal time.
–Music lessons can help lower stress.
–Music lessons provide a way to be involved with others that share similar interests.
–Music lessons help seniors stay active, vibrant, and mentally sharp.

For adult students who are just beginning their musical journey, the process of learning to sing or play an instrument can certainly be daunting.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Keep expectations realistic. Regardless of whether or not you have ever played an instrument before, there will be a learning curve.  Don’t expect to play like a pro straight away; instead, set realistic goals of milestones you’d like to achieve in the next week, month, and so on.  Track your progress and make the necessary adjustments to ensure you are on track to meeting your goals.

Trust your teacher. Your teacher is there to help you reach your goals.  More than likely, this person is a professional with many years of experience – take advantage of the fact that you are working with someone who is an expert at playing their instrument, and ask for their advice.  In turn, your teacher should take the time to learn about you as a student, identifying your strengths and weaknesses and then tailoring each lesson to your needs.

Success takes time. We’ve all heard the phrase “practice makes perfect,” and if you want to master your instrument, you need to practice.  This time commitment can be a deterrent for those with busy schedules, but you can still learn an instrument even if you don’t have much time to practice – just expect the process to take longer and your progress to be slower.  As long as you stay focused and motivated, you will be able to achieve your goals.

TakeLessons offers music lessons for adults and students of all ages.
Want to learn more? You might also like…
5 Key Benefits of Taking Music Lessons as an Adult
Is Your 9-to-5 Draining Your Creativity?
Excel at Music By Acting Like a Child