This post is by guest writer Dan Fries. Dan Fries is an author and founder of several companies, including Corpina Nootropics. He started his career at Harvard Medical School studying cancer tumor biology, but saw an opportunity for a more holistic approach to healthcare. That’s when he started Corpina, with a mission to inform the world about responsible brain health and supplementation. He writes about his journey at DanFries.net
Think back to your last big performance or audition. What were your feelings right before you walked on stage?
Was your heart pounding in your chest? Were your hands clammy and cold? Did you feel tense, light-headed, shaky or weak? Did you have trouble concentrating?
Surely, fear and doubt could be the culprit, affecting even the most-talented entertainers. You would have had a vague sense of something bad that was going to occur and blamed yourself for not practicing enough.
These are some of the symptoms and signs of performance anxiety experienced by thousands of people. Of course, you might feel frustrated because your hours of practice and hard work were subdued by your inner feelings of discomfort and fear.
If you’re able to manage stress and anxiety, then all is well. But if you’re like most performers and anxiety confines your ability to practice music, then you may think twice before performing in front of public audiences.
Ultimately, this affects your career path as you might end up playing music in ensembles rather than as soloists or you will take up the profession of being a music educator.
It is important to give yourself some time before you make such career decisions and try to come up with your own ways of fighting anxiety.
Can Performance Anxiety Be Controlled?
The answer is YES! The first step in overcoming your performance anxiety is to confront your vulnerabilities and fears. You need to accept who you are and avoid the feeling that you have to prove yourself to others. Just keep in mind that no one is perfect and nobody expects you to be either. It is okay to make mistakes but that shouldn’t stop you from giving your 100%.
The second step is to know how to channel your negative thoughts, predictions, images, beliefs about performing live. And this is not as difficult as you think.
Common Lapses In Dealing with Performance Anxiety
- Treat The Symptoms Rather Than The Cause
You are on the stage and you see thousands of onlookers anticipating your stunning performance. Suddenly, you feel your heart racing, breathing becoming shallow and hands starting to tremble. Sometimes you might even feel nauseous and have trouble focusing your vision.
At this point, you might be thinking of overcoming this troublesome mental phase. What you need to realize is attending the physiological symptoms of anxiety is like putting a band-aid on a deep wound. Such symptoms are the natural aspects of the body’s fight response.
So, if your symptoms aren’t debilitating, then you need to try to ease them through pre-performance exercises like progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing.
One common mistake that many and probably you too might make is over-practicing. You feel additional practice is the best solution for overcoming your anxiety. But it is not. You can play or sing music well and it is your fear of performing in front of a live audience that pulls you down.
Simply over-preparing or continuous practice will help to give a decent performance but it would never help you to overcome your performance anxiety. Your fear lies in how the audience would react to your performance, not whether you have practiced enough or not.
- Letting Others Determine Your Performance
As a musician, you might have some firm ideas on what your performance should be like, the repertoire you choose, attire, and the setup of the performance venue. These common practices are not written anywhere and they are just simple conventions.
There are various researches that throw light on how these situational factors cause a huge amount of anxiety among performers. Strict conventions like these when it comes to performance are negotiable, especially if you’re able to get a groove going and you’ve the pulse of the crowd.
Dictating terms on how you perform, what music to play, and what kind of outfit to wear will make you more stressed. Also, it hampers your creativity.
Treatment For Performance Anxiety
Here are the 6 tips to follow for overcoming your anxiety and fear on the stage:
- Be prepared – practice, practice, practice
- Shift your focus on entertaining the audience. Don’t be self-conscious
- Limit the intake of sugar and caffeine on the day of performance
- Keep away thoughts which lead to self-doubt
- Practice meditation, breathing, and other relaxation techniques and/or the Alexander Technique
- Consider some of the additional suggestions from Corpina to ease your mind and kick anxious thoughts
A musical performance is not something that you must strive to endure. It must be something that you enjoy and if you don’t, then you are not in the right mental state to perform.
No doubt, anxious thoughts can crop up in your mind, but you need to know that it happens to a lot of musicians. With the right self-motivation and anti-anxiety tools you can overcome your performance anxiety disorder.
Two FREE E-Courses with expert tips for you
All Musicians: sign up here: http://jenniferrf1_1.gr8.com
String Players: sign up here: https://artoffreedom.leadpages.co/freestringsecourse/
If you enjoyed this post, sign up for my MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
with news and tips for musicians. Use the box to the bottom right!
Please SHARE THIS POST – let’s spread inspiration all over the world together! 🙂