Long before there were smart phones, flatscreen televisions, zoom conferencing, and the world wide web as we know it, we had nothing other than ourselves and live music performance or serious music lessons by prominent teachers to groom the next generation of musicians as was the time back then.
So imagine the pressures against those poor musicians to perform every night for live audiences with fears of messing up and getting booed or those poor students practicing hours and hours a day. I am sure they were exhausted and wanted to spend more time at home doing other life things. We as dedicated musicians are better off now with less pressure to perform every single night and we often get to pick and choose gigs. There are many opportunities now, either through live performances or virtual recitals. At home Music lessons for kids are now for fun as a hobby to enjoy after work or school without the historic pressures and expectations to go professional. Regardless, musicians of past, present and future still face a common issue regardless of our music career goals: stage fright!
What Causes Stage Fright?
Stage fright or simply getting the jitters before a performance is real. Even the professionals get it. The root of all performance jitters or anxiety has to do with a real and serious fear of failure, playing the wrong notes, forgetting the music from memory, or getting booed for a failed performance — really embarrassing to say the least. Stage fright can be so bad for some musicians that they tremble, feel a panic attack, elevated blood pressure or worst of all forget how to play their beloved instrument. They appear on stage like a deer in headlights, frozen and scared to death and can’t even rely on finger memory either because our fingers are too numb from anxiety and our mind completely blanks out. What misery for a musician of any level!
But good news, if you’ve ever felt this way, it’s not the end of the world yet even though it may feel like it at the moment. I have personally been there so many times on stage after 41 years of music in my life. Humans are more emotional and fragile than people realize. If big and strong men can act like little children at the thought of getting a shot at the doctor office, no one is really immune to fear whether it’s a sharp needle or lots of people staring at you while you perform your instrument. Musicians of all ages and skill levels must find ways to cope and manage fears and jitters so they can learn to play with courage and boldness regardless of the result. Maybe the cliché just do you best or break a leg doesn’t really help unless you can imagine being in total control of your music and emotions rather than let it control you before, during and after a performance. The mind is a powerful thing indeed.
How To Build Courage and Confidence?
The best way to overcome stage fright is to perform as much as possible to very small audiences at first. Starting with your friends, classmates, parents, grandparents, siblings, music teacher, or neighbors. You must start small first before you grow into playing for weddings, church services, special events and gatherings, or large recitals. To build confidence start small and then grow it bigger with more playing experience.
Another helpful technique is to video record yourself playing and performing. The great pianist Glenn Gould was a legendary pianist with impeccable skills and talents. Later in his life, he quit public performance and the remaining performances have all been recorded in a private studio. Perhaps he couldn’t deal with the nerves and anxieties that came with live performances. That doesn’t mean he made a bad decision to quit live performances, but not everyone should be a Glenn Gould and hide from the public either. Consider recording yourself and put them on Youtube or Facebook to share your music with others around the world. You might be surprised how easier it becomes performing for a live audience the more you record yourself either in practice or performance.
Like athletes and other competitors, make sure you’re ready and have all the tools to compete. One of the things you can do is by reading online resources for learning music. By controlling as much as you can and avoiding unnecessary worry, your performance will go smoothly. A Lessons In Your Home teacher can help you prepare. At Lessons In Your Home, our instructors are thoroughly vetted, professional, and passionate about music. Our teachers will come right to your home for every lesson, plus we offer virtual music lessons, too. Our online music lessons are taught by local music teachers who plan their lessons to suit your child. Contact us today to learn more.
By David Bang