"If you have stage fright, it never goes away. But then I wonder: is the key to that magical performance because of the fear?" - Stevie Nicks
Do you find yourself anxious before performances and auditions? If so, you're not alone. Even professional musicians experience some level of stage fright before performing. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help reduce stress, but keep in mind that anxiety is normal and a necessary part of being a musician.
1. Practice Makes Perfect
The more you practice, the more confidence you will have going into your performance. You do not want to worry that you may forget your lyrics or play the wrong note. There are countless new elements in performances that can throw you. The more you practice, the more likely your muscle memory will kick in.
2. Warm Up
It is essential to warm up before performances. A proper warm up helps you find flexibility in your lips, muscles, fingers, or vocal chords and gets you ready for playing or singing. The warm up will set you up for success in your performance.
3. Leave Yourself Plenty of Time
In anticipation of a performance, leave yourself plenty of time to get to the venue. Allow for traffic, accidents, parking, car trouble, or anything else that might get in your way. The last thing you want before a performance is a stressful trip followed by quick jog into the concert hall to make that downbeat. You want time to get settled, get your instrument together, tune, warm up, etc. You also want to take a few minutes before a performance to sit in silence to get into the zone. This is your opportunity to think about what is coming and remind yourself of trouble spots. If you're a singer, this is your opportunity to get into character.
4. Handling Mistakes
As much as we hope that we will not make a mistake, the truth is mistakes do happen and it is OK. The important thing is how we deal with our mistakes in performance. We can either let our mistakes consume our thoughts causing a domino effect of problems, or we can recover and hide the mistake so that our audience is not aware of it. The key to recovering is to be kind to yourself. Instead of beating yourself up, remind yourself that no one knows you made a mistake except you.
5. Keep Performing
The more you perform, the easier it is to deal with performance anxiety. You can take comfort in your positive track record. As I mentioned at the start of the blog, the fear never completely goes away, but many artists, myself included, believe that some level of anxiety is good as it keeps us focused and alert during the performance.
At the end of the day, performing is supposed to be something you enjoy. When you're up on that stage, try to have fun. If you're having a good time, I guarantee the audience will have a great time as well.
What have you done to help manage your performance anxiety? Let us know in the comments below.