This is the first of a series of blogposts answering some of the questions that were asked by respondents to my Survey for Creative and Performing Artists (see last blogpost), in response to this survey question:
If you could have one hour to sit down with me and get inspiring answers and magical solutions (sure, go ahead and dream! 🙂 ) to your most pressing problems in your career and life as an artist, what would you want to know about? What would your questions be?
I was impressed that out of the 56 people who completed the survey, I received 56 responses to this question! I won’t be answering all of the questions asked, but I’ll begin with two today: one about performance anxiety, and one about networking. Getting out my magic wand…
Q: How can I perform with less anxiety?
A: Performance anxiety is a huge topic, and one that concerns many performers. I’ve experienced it plenty of times myself over the years, and I help people with it all the time, so I have a lot of ideas about what works and what doesn’t. First of all, let me direct you to an article that I wrote on this subject, called Performance Anxiety: A Way to Deal with it that Works. I would LOVE to get your feedback on the article – please comment below! Alexander Technique lessons with a teacher can be very extremely helpful for problems with anxiety.
Here’s one of my favorite QUICK TIPS that really helps me every time:
If there’s any way you can get into the performance space before your performance and spend a bit of time there ALONE, you can get a real advantage. Give yourself some quiet, calm time with the very specific intention of making the space yours. Walk around the hall, onstage and offstage. Sit in the audience seats. Play your instrument or sing from many different spots in the hall. Sing or yell or talk loudly to imaginary people, and enjoy using your voice. Sit on the stage. Do funny, odd things that you’d never do with people watching. Walk around barefoot. Meditate. Touch things. Smile. Cry. Lie down on the stage. Can you imagine the performance space in the picture above as your own living room? Anything’s possible! 🙂
The key: give yourself enough time to really feel at home in the space. Don’t skimp on time with this – really enjoy it and have fun! Don’t underestimate the power of getting to feel at home in an unfamiliar space. You’ll probably be amazed at the difference it can make once you’re finally onstage, and it feels like you’re welcoming your audience into your space, as if you were welcoming friends into your own living room. After all, it IS your living – room! Isn’t it easier to play for friends in your living room at home? The difference can be HUGE.
You might think it “takes nerve” to do this type of thing in someone else’s space – especially if it’s a grand ballroom-type space, but I guess that’s the point. If you can “get up the nerve” to be free in the space, you’re getting in touch with your nervousness, facing it, and doing something very proactive to overcome it. I did this in Carnegie Hall in November, before my performance, and it was great. (An added benefit: I can now honestly say I’ve sung in Carnegie Hall!) So…go for it! Let me know what happens!
Q: Do you have any ideas for networking?
A: Well, it depends on what kind of networking you’re wanting to do, and what type of a musical career you’re pursuing. The respondent asking this question didn’t give details on the survey, so I find it difficult to answer this question in a specific way, but I’ll pass along a few general tips here.
Personally, there a couple of things that I am finding to be extremely helpful for networking these days. The main one is facebook. I know, I know…. not everyone likes facebook, and it gets tiresome to spend so much time on the computer – I hear you. But a LOT of musicians are using it, and if you really want to connect with more people in a personal way which overlaps with the professional (and that’s one of the best ways to make an impression that leads to positive professional connections), then facebook is an extremely useful tool. Once you’re there, search for and join the online facebook groups where people gather who are interested in the same types of things you are. Join in on the conversations. Once you get to “know” people in a group, it’s easier to send them a private message about whatever it is you’re interested in.
You can also go to live events where fellow musicians gather and strike up casual conversations with people you don’t know at the intermission. Ask friends to put you in touch with other people you want to network with. Use your connections for friendly referrals, and return the favor. Word-of-mouth networking is the most effective way to move forward professionally, so it makes sense to get to know a lot of people. For this to work best, the connection needs to be a real 2-way energy exchange based on sincere kindness coming from the heart.
Do any of my readers here have any other great networking ideas? What’s your favorite networking tip?