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How To Overcome Your Nerves

Sweaty palms. Wobbly knees. That feeling of dizzyness, adrenaline, and tingling in your fingers - all at the same time. If this sounds familiar, you've probably experienced some sort of performance anxiety ("stage fright") at some point.

Congratulations.

You're just like every other musician and speaker who's ever given a performance.

"In my opinion, the only way to conquer stage fright is to get up on stage and play. Every time you play a show, it gets better and better." ~ Taylor Swift

"I have big, big stage fright." ~Andrea Bocelli (famous classical singer)

"But I...never could make a good impromptu speech with several hours to prepare for it." ~Mark Twain (American author)

Each of these quotes hints at our feelings about performing in front of people - AND - at the solution.

Here are some things you can do to help fight stage fright.

  1. Practice, practice, practice. Preparation doesn't always make something perfect, but it usually makes you consistent. Being prepared ahead of time gives you confidence to go on stage and replicate what you did in the practice room.
  2. Practice how you perform. Treat every time you pick up the instrument or the microphone like it's a performance in front of an audience. Pay attention to your posture, then way you breathe, and all the other little things that make a big difference in the sound you make.
  3. Focus on the purpose of your performance, not yourself. The time you spend preparing for the audience is where you learn the most and benefit from music study. Audience members benefit from the performance, so remember, you are contributing to their lives in an artistic way.
  4. Make connections with the audience. Depending on the situation, you may be in front of a large group and only able to connect with the front row. But in more intimate settings, smile at the audience. And, at an appropriate time, thank them for coming and for their time.
  5. Give up trying to be perfect. It's OK if mistakes happen. Be yourself and learn from the experience.

"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 (singer, Fleetwood Mac)

Posted by Ben Fonville at 6:00 AM
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