We all know the importance of practice prior to a big recital or performance, but if you suffer from stage fright it might be helpful to take it one step further. While practicing your piece, envision exactly what you’ll think about while performing the piece. Visualize upcoming difficult passages while you play and immerse yourself in the rhythm. Don’t allow yourself to go into auto-pilot practice mode, but rather fully engage with the music.
Next, instead of practicing by yourself at home, ask close friends and family that you feel comfortable playing in front of to serve as your audience. If you’re able, take it a step further by practicing at the venue you’ll be performing at. If that’s not possible, find a similar location, or try performing at a variety of locations, which can help get rid of setting distractions altogether.
The bottom line is that you should know your music like the back of your hand. Memorization can be a huge stressor on performers, so do yourself a favor and eliminate it from the get go!
Accept the Fear
A lot of times when people experience stage fright they tend to blame themselves, thinking that there is abnormal about feeling nervous. Accepting that what you’re feeling is a natural biological response can be incredibly freeing and will allow you to work past your stage fright.
Skip the Coffee
You may think it’ll help you be more alert, but caffeine and sugar can actually agitate the negative symptoms of stage fright. It’s best to avoid sugary foods or caffeinated beverages the day of your performance. Be especially aware that if you’re sipping some tea to sooth a tired or sore throat, it should be non-caffeinated! Believe us, the natural pre-performance adrenaline boost will be more than enough to keep you alert and energized.
Don’t Focus on Yourself
Try not to think about the way you look, sound, or feel. Instead, think about how cool it is that you have an opportunity to bring enjoyment to others!
Listen to Music
Sports psychologists have long encouraged athletes to listen to music prior to big competitions, and some of the same benefits can cross over to musicians as well. For one, we can choose songs to put us into the right mood. If you need a boost, pick a song that fires you up. If you need to relax, listen to your favorite chill-out song.
Don’t fixate on what could go wrong, but rather imagine all your preparation, skills, and musical talent aligning perfectly. Remember that your audience is there to support and encourage you. Avoid any and all feelings of self-doubt.
Relax and Focus
We all have our own way of entering ‘the zone.’ Practice your relaxation technique ahead of time, so that it’s ready to go when you need it. One suggestion is to find a quiet spot to sit. Slowly take 10 full breaths, in and out, through your nose. Count each breath as you go.
Use the Facilities
It may sound silly, but DON’T FORGET TO USE THE BATHROOM. Believe us, we speak from experience when we say there’s nothing worse for stage fright than having to ‘go’ when you step onto the stage.
Stretching will help loosen tense muscles and allow you to focus on something other than your jitters right before the show. Take it easy, concentrate on your movements, and shake it out when you’re done. Imagine all the negative energy leaving your body.
Enjoy Every Moment
Smile as you walk onto the stage and look at the audience. Imagine all the people who supported you during practice out there cheering you on. Perform like you know you can and graciously accept their applause at the end. Not only will you kill your performance, but you’ll overcome your stage fright to do so!
-Beats Central Team
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