Overcoming Musical Performance Anxiety

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Classical Piano By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: Piano » Classical Piano
Last updated: 04/03/2018
Tags: boost your performance, general musicianship

It is normal to get anxious before a performance. Whether you are a complete beginner or an advanced musician, it is very common to develop stage fright. Here are a few tips to overcome anxiety. 

Slow Practice is key - If you practice with mistakes, you will perform with mistakes. The way to overcome this problem is by doing very slow practice and fingers are comfortable. This diminishes the chance of inaccurate notes or rhythms. If a passage is repeated accurately several times, finger muscles will automatically memorise the music and the performance will sound more comfortable. It is also essential in a piano performance to sit comfortably and adjust the seat accordingly. If the performer is uncomfortable, this has a detrimental effect on the performance.

Exercise before a performance - The reason musicians become nervous before an examination is because of excess adrenaline. Levels can be kept low if used up before the performance. In my experience, I find it useful to go for a morning run before a performance as this lowers stress and focuses my attention.

Perform in a variety of styles and locations - In order to conquer a phobia, it is essential to get extensive experience in performing a variety of styles, ways and locations. If you experiment formally or informally in performing in a variety of styles, this will take you out of your comfort zone. One of the most daunting places I have chosen to perform is York City Centre as a busker. The advantages of busking is that is helps boost confidence levels, is not assessed and can earn you can earn some extra money! If busking informally, I find it is useful to improvise in some songs as this helps take me out of my comfort zone and boosts creativity.

Avoid over-analysing audience reactions - A common mistake that I have made over the last several years is over analysing the examiners reaction to my playing. It is important not to read too much into an examiners body language or facial expression. If the examiner has had a difficult day, it is likely that they may look uncomfortable but it is important not to take this personally. Likewise, it is important not to analyse the expression on the audiences faces when performing. If their behaviour is hard to ignore, focus on a point in the wall so you are not directly staring at the audience. 

Nichola O'Connell Classical Piano Teacher (York)

About The Author

I am a passionate musician who aspires to teach in a holistic manner, focusing on pupils strengths and encouraging creativity.

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