by Fernando Brahms, Music Instructor @happysoundmusic
Performances can be nerve-racking. No matter the crowd, it always feels like the whole world is watching. Hands can get shaky and maybe you start to forget a big part of the song, oh no!
These nerves are perfectly normal and trust me, we all still get them. All instructors here at Happy Sound have gone through what you’re feeling, so let us give you some insight on what we think about and how to overcome performance anxiety.
Before we begin, it’s important to note the differences between solo and group performances. Normally in a solo performance, it’s only you, your music, and the chair you’re sitting on (if you're seated). These can be the most nerve-racking. Group performances typically are more than two people performing. These performances can feel a bit more relaxed because you are collaborating with others. You play one part and other performers play a different part. You can also have a larger group performance where multiple people play your part which can make a performance way easier because your mistakes are drowned out by other performers. We want to focus on the solo performers here but these tips will work for you regardless of what kind of performance you have going on!
First and most importantly, BREATHE. When we get nervous and tense we tend to forget the basic necessity to breathe. Deep breaths before or even during your performance can help your body feel safer and relieve some of those nerves. Take deep breaths during pauses in music and especially before the big important section of the music. It might be strange at first, but also try this during practice. When you practice at home, find those deep breath moments to prepare yourself for the real thing.
Second, play for everyone you can. The more you do it, the easier it will get. Play for your parents. Play for your friend. Record a video and play it for yourself. The performance anxiety may still be there when playing in those settings, but it's important to remember that those groups of family and friends support and encourage you. You will learn to control those shaky hands much easier. If you can’t seem to find anyone to perform to, turn your practice sessions into mental performances. Play the piece you are practicing as if you were performing it. That gets you even more comfortable with your stage music and will help develop your performance.
Third, might be the toughest of all, but stay focused. Don’t concentrate on the crowd and focus on what you are doing. Most likely you’ve practiced by looking at your hands and your music, do the same here. Pretend it’s the same room or space you practice in and focus on your next move. Crowds can be intimidating, so try your best to pretend they aren’t there.
Finally, the most obvious tip is, of course, simply doing it! You can do all the prep work but doing it is what’s going to get you comfortable with performing. Luckily the students at Happy Sound are given performance opportunities in a safe and comfortable environment. Students will have recitals where they can perform and show off their efforts in front of a camera right here at our studio. All students are allowed to record a performance video to share with their loved ones. The video will all be edited and mastered in-house at no extra charge! It’s a fun and easy way to learn to perform with zero risk. Try as many times as you need to get that perfect take and take it home to share with everyone you know!
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