How do you survive the ordeal of a performance? Overcoming stage fright, is that even possible?
To manage rather than overcoming the fear of performing is a skill that can be learned as any other skill. But, as any skill it needs to be practiced! Here are practical tips on how to manage stage fright for musicians.
You can not eliminate stage fright since it is an instinctive response
to a stressful situation, but you can learn how to use it and to manage
it to your advantage.
The adrenaline build up you feel when getting nervous makes your heart beat faster and can make you feel out of control.
But there are some positive effects as well: The rush of adrenalin makes your senses more alert.
As a consequence your playing can become much more powerful, passionate and interesting.
Instead of fighting this natural response, learn how your body reacts under stress and how to use it to make your performance even better.
One of the most important things about overcoming stage fright is to start a long time in advance to prepare yourself, and to practice managing rather than overcoming stage fright.
A book I really recommend to help you prepare is The Musician's Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness (from Amazon) by Gerald Klickstein. It is filled with great practicing and preparation tips for musicians that work.
Another important aspect is to make sure to select pieces that are at or below your current level. If the pieces are too hard you will naturally get nervous because there are too many possibilities for something to go wrong.
Overcoming stage fright entirely might not be possible to do. But instead of fighting it, learn how to manage it. Start already now preparing for your next performance!
Here are some super-effective tips that help overcoming stage fright in "count down" order:
9. Eat a banana. A half hour before the performance eat a couple of bananas!! Yes you heard right! Bananas are a natural beta blocker.
10. Take away self-focus by feeling generous. Right before you play, remind yourself you are giving the audience this gift of yours- your pieces. Take away the focus on you, and imagine you are presenting them with these lovely gifts. Like drawings you made to your teacher when you were a child. They might not have been perfect, but they were the best you could do. Same now. This is the best you can do. This time…
Afterward- Give yourself a pat on the back for all the hard work, and take some time to think about what you could do even better for the next time!
Remember that telling yourself not to have stage fright is not going to help. Overcoming stage fright means to learn how your body reacts under stress, as well as to plan and prepare a lot of time in advance and practice, practice.
Who knows- maybe you will even realize that you finally enjoy the extra rush of adrenaline!