performance jitters

On Becoming a Bulletproof Musician

On Becoming a Bulletproof Musician

The theme at last week’s group classes was becoming a bulletproof musician. The idea has been percolating in my mind ever since I discovered Dr. Noa Kageyama’s blog on performance anxiety and mindful practice, called The Bulletproof Musician.

Overcoming Stage Fright - Second Movement

"This week, I want you to practice performing." My students have been hearing me say this throughout the week, in preparation for my studio's winter recital on Sunday. We only have one shot on stage to weave our magic for the audience. Many musicians can attest to nailing their songs in the practice room, only to have everything fall apart on stage.

The secret is to practice performing. One must play through the song(s) in a performance setting, where you can get that heart pounding, feel the weight of all eyes on you and play through distractions. Some tricks I've learned along the way:

  • perform often: the more you perform, the more used you get to the stress and the easier it gets
  • cajole your family and friends to be a guinea pig audience - have them be a model audience one time and a disruptive one the next run-through
  • know your repertoire really well
  • visualization: visualize the setting, yourself playing well, yourself successfully navigating through a stumble, memory glitch
  • breathing techniques
  • put Maestro to work: Sometimes, I allow Maestro to provide distractions for the students to perform through. His favourite techniques include surrounding the student with toys, hopping on the bench and singing along.

Here are some cool articles on performance anxiety/jitters:

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