Thursday, 24 January 2013

Dealing With Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety is something that all musicians suffer from, however some find it easier to deal with than others. It is very easy to let nerves affect your performance, but there are some ways to deal with them.

1. Perform as much as possible
If you suffer from performance anxiety it is very easy to let yourself avoid performing as much as possible, however if you never perform you will never truly learn how best to deal with your nerves. Take as many opportunities to perform as possible, it will get easier.

2. Breathe
Breathing is one of the most important things you can do to calm yourself. Before you go on take some deep breaths slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth. This will truly help you to relax. Don't forget to breathe during the performance too. Breathing is one of the first things to go when we are nervous. Write "breathe" on your music, in important places and if you have a rest in the middle, take some more deep breaths (don't forget to count though!).

3. Believe in Yourself
Tell yourself "I can do this", reassurance is very important. Standing up in front of an audience is a very hard thing to do, be proud of yourself for having the courage to do it.

4. Rescue Remedy  
Bach's Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic medicine used for stress and anxiety. It contains natural ingredients and so can be taken by anyone (including children). I have read many mixed reviews from musicians about whether this truly helps with performance anxiety, but I believe it does. It is possible that it has the 'placebo' effect, so if you use it tell yourself that it will work! It comes in many different forms, but I personally use the spray. You spray it twice onto your tongue when you feel nervous and it is meant to relax you (however it doesn't taste particularly pleasant!). I really feel that it helped me and it is now an essential in my trumpet case.

5. Buzz Words  
Write encouraging and reassuring words at the top of your music. Things like "relax", "smile" and "calm" will help to reassure you when on stage.

6. Eat Bananas?!
I have no idea whether this actually works, but some people swear by it! It is apparently down to the potassium and vitamin B that the banana contains that reduce nerves and shaking. People suggest eating a banana half an hour before a performance. Anything’s worth trying!

7. Shaking? - Stand Straight
Shaking legs during a performance can be particularly annoying and can show your true nerves to the audience. If this is something you suffer with, keep your legs straight at all times. Never bend your knees as this seems to make it worse.

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