I have tried to be honest about the fact that I struggle with performance anxiety. It is something that I am continually working on and am always searching for new techniques to help me and my students. I think at a certain age we become aware and concerned about what other people think. The best thing that I’ve been able to do is to continue to put myself in situations where I am called upon to perform, to continue to get up and do it again even if I feel like my performance was a failure. The honest truth is that even seasoned professionals struggle with performance nerves and they too are critical of their performances.
Listen to this great interview where some of the greatest musicians in the world are asked how they deal with nerves. Here’s what they said.
The last interview especially stood out to me and I summarize it below:
Listen and observe. When I observed what happened in concerts and how my body reacted and accepted what was happening in the body, to look and not run. Then I could work with what was happening, train and concentrate and use techniques such as thinking warmth in the body and develop a sense of humour about it. We get so caught up in something very serious, to laugh about these things gives us a sense of balance and distance without ignoring it. I began to accept it and work with it.
I also gleaned several other quotes which I think are helpful:
- Nerves are natural.
- I always embrace them. I think there is too much negative PR about being nervous before a concert.
- It’s a good thing, embrace it.
- Keep breathing and I pray for concentration.
I think embracing nervousness brings fear to a manageable level. As simple as it sounds I think “keep breathing” is a reality that many overlook.