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Coping With Performance Anxiety

With only a month to go, APA music students are preparing for their upcoming winter music recital.  Some students are focusing on memorization of their pieces, and some are working on dynamics, articulation, expression, and/or increasing tempo.  One thing all of us musicians may experience this time of year is something we call “performance anxiety,” otherwise known as “stage fright.”  For some it is worse than others, while some students may not experience much of it at all. 

A common misconception about performance anxiety, is that overtime it is something that “should” go completely away.  Being nervous about a performance isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It means that you care enough about it to want it to go well.  And caring is never a bad thing.  When the caring overpowers your enjoyment of the performance, is when it can be a negative thing.  Instead of trying to “get rid of all anxiety”, learn to embrace it and understand it means that you value what you are doing. 

As we get older, there are many situations in life where learning to work with performance anxiety becomes of utmost importance. Some examples include: presentations in front of large groups of people, job interviews, and even something as simple as socializing with people you are meeting for the first time. 

By participating in our recitals, APA music students are getting valuable experience performing in front of an audience. They are learning ways to cope with performance anxiety at a young age, thus helping them have the tools to become successful adults.

Here are a few tips to help work with anxiety as the recital grows closer:

1.) Practice performing your song in front of people as much as possible before the recital. For example, play in front of friends, your family, or even ask your school music teacher if you can perform for your class. The more experience you get playing in front of crowds, the better.

2.) Imagine you are at the recital, EVERY TIME you practice your song. I like to call this practicing in “performance mode”. Before you perform your song, imagine the stage, the audience, your instrument, etc. Take a deep breath, relax your body, and focus on the song. Take the focus away from yourself, and focus on what you are playing or singing. Enjoy the music as you perform and know that you are providing wonderful entertainment for your family and audience members.

3.) Remind yourself that mistakes are okay. Your teacher, your family, the audience, is not at all concerned with mistakes; they are just impressed at your musical ability and the fact that you have the courage to get up on stage and share your talent with them. Every time you practice your performance, challenge yourself to keep going no matter how many mistakes you make.  The goal is to keep your song flowing and once a mistake happens, seeing how quickly you can
move on and continue your performance with the expression it requires.  No matter what happens at the recital, know that your teacher, your family, your friends are proud of you and amazed at your willingness to be brave and share your talent with others.

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