Many musicians seemed to be born to be on stage or in front of a camera. They give their best and enjoy the moment with great confidence. On the other hand, however the majority of musicians have to deal with stage fright at a certain point of their carrier. And the good news is: Musicians and Stage Fright, it’s just a passage to be the stage animal you dream of being.
Musicians And Stage Fright – Do You Fight Or Take a Flight?
When it comes to performing in front of an audience powerful emotions kick in and cloud our judgment of the situation. Does it feel like your hands are tight and you are your own prisoner?
There are various forms of stage fright. Some are light and easy to reduce to pure excitement. This article deals with those situations where we are nervous, shaking and not breathing right. Maybe sweating, cold hands, hot cheeks….
We have all been there and we can cope with it and learn a way to use those feelings to our advantage. So this article is for you when you deal with light to medium stage fright, which we can also call performance anxiety.
If you are having straight panic attacks just thinking about a performance in front of an audience, you should seek professional help. There a many famous musicians who had to do that and overcame their fight or flight response or freeze state. Panic attacks are serious and should be dealt with professionally.
Look at a list of musicians who went through extreme stage fright ——> here.
Do You Fear Stage Fright? Musicians And Stage Fright
That is often how it gets worse. You have been through a situation where you couldn’t control you fingers or breathing anymore and it all went blank. Maybe you lost you track and didn’t know where to enter or you didn’t play you solo.
Those horrible experiences are very strong. They stick in our minds and produce anxiety. This is how the next time you will be afraid to walk on that stage again, or maybe even playing just for you friends and family. That one time could become more times if you give fear a way into you preparation and mind and it will fulfill the prophecy of failure.
At that point there seems to be no way out and you won’t even fight it anymore but just never put yourself in that position again.
Stop and think. We are made like this, fly dangerous situations if we can’t fight them and how should we fight ourselves when we are sure we will fail?
Are Musicians The Only Ones With Performance Anxiety?
No actually. There are many forms of it and the most common is Speakers’ Nervousness. That one is so strong that some people prefer to be in the coffin than giving the eulogy. Just have a look at the Anxiety and Depression Department of America and their article on how to deal with Stage Fright.
This article is very helpful as it gives 10 steps to prepare and overcome performance anxiety that anyone can implement to improve any type of performance including an audience.
Furthermore, it is imperative not only for musicians to eat well, sleep well and practice. A state of health and well-being is the best way to reduce performance anxiety. How to prepare as a musician?
For more information on those different aspects read my articles about
How do you put yourself in the best position to perform? Let me know in the comment section below.
But also consider this idea: Life and strong emotions are born from the hip flexor muscles.
If we can train those we will be able to control life and feelings about life. Have a look at the training —————————–>here.
Where Does Stage Fright Come From?
Maybe you are an introvert and many brilliant musicians are. Some of us lack the confidence to be able to make others have a good time by playing for them. Many of us are perfectionists and judge ourselves very harshly. We then assume the audience would do the same and become afraid of their judgment.
Some of us have had bad experiences, like memory loss, freezing on stage or shaking so much we were unable to control our movements.
Sometimes we haven’t had the time to prepare right and do not feel ready. Still, in other occasions we have to fight with a dry mouth, overheated head and very cold feet, literally.
Often we lack the imagination of it being a wonderful experience because we are caught up in the dreadful experiences we had and our mind will reproduce what it knows.
The adrenaline produced leaves us two chances, fight or flight. If you can do neither of both you freeze and self sabotage in a kind of flight on the spot.
I personally suffer from overthinking while I’m playing. What happened a lot of times was that I was performing wonderfully and my mind went “how is that possible? you never played that well. Something has to go terribly wrong in the next passage” and guess what, it does. Never fails to go wrong when I think it will. Can’t we use that to our advantage? Isn’t the opposite just as true?
7 Ways To Overcome Stage Fright For Musicians
That leads me to ways to overcome stage fright. Here are 7 ways to get to the same result, a fulfilling performance for you and you audience. Remember that musical performance involves an audience. No way around it, so when you play, play with them. Not against them. Open yourself up to the idea that all of you just want to have a great time and feel something amazing. You need to feel that amazing feeling to convey it, so it all starts with you own attitude to what you are going to do.
1. The first and most important is to be prepared. To study and practice well. You cannot fool yourself into thinking of being prepared when you know you are not.
2. While you practice you should also imagine you are in the performance situation. Imagine the lights going out in the audience. The applause when you enter and yourself smiling and confident. No tricks, you are prepared. Imagine yourself playing the very first sound. Listen to it as it leaves you and comes back to you. Imagine the acoustics and the audience carrying you sound together with you.
3. Visualize the moment that the audience breaks into a long applause after you performance, the tension has left and the light is turned back on. This is what is going to happen if you are prepared and willing to share a beautiful moment with you audience.
4. Change you focus. Do not think about yourself, you playing, the long hours of practice and heaven forbid the way you are going to fail anyway. This is what we usually do. Our panic feeling is a response to the unpleasant thoughts we are thinking that anticipate a situation we would rather not be in.
Think about what you are going to offer to you audience, focus on them not yourself
About why you play for them and about why they came. Connect with them and smile at them the whole time, also in your visualization. Try to greet them innerly. One by one. Welcome them.
5. Find out the right breathing exercises and meditation to relax and calm down before and after a concert. You can read about breathing and stretching exercises in my other articles here and here.
6. Be yourself, no perfection needed. It is perfectly fine to make a mistake. You do not have to be flawless. No one is. Your connection with the audience will be so much deeper and more enjoyable on both sides if you can just relax and smile about you own shortcomings. Acknowledge you are afraid. You can even tell them. Just use positive words like excitement and energy. Be generous to them and to yourself. Everyone can relate much better!
7. My very own way is to create a bodily feeling of the sound of my music. It has to be a strong positive emotion. Like feeling at home. E-motion is energy in motion, vibration.
I create my own positive vibration and inhabit it. I then open the door and welcome everyone to have a sip of the energy, sit down and make themselves comfortable.
To enhance each of the aspects you could also implement a regular meditation practice routine. Nothing special, just some time to align and build a home base to come back to when you need it. Read more on the topic in our latest article meditation for flutists.
Music Is Vibration, Feelings Are Vibration – Vibration Is Our Essence
But this is just the result, a natural result. The important thing is to inhabit your sound and create a positive vibe. Besides, this feeling has the duration of a second or even less, but I can create it whenever I want and keep out thoughts of self-doubt. There is simply no space as the feeling is huge, even limitless. No way of breaking in. And then I play the first note and it is a self-fulfilling prophecy again.
The good feeling enhances the sound, the sound enhances the feeling. We can then just glow and shine and invite everyone in.
Does that make sense to you? Feelings are the strongest vehicle we have. Therefore attach different strong, reassuring and warm feelings to every passage while you study. Relive them every time you play and you will be back in there on stage.
That feeling is what the audience remembers, not a mistake. Moreover, they will feel enriched because you did generously give them something. A pure wonderful vibration that uplifted them. After all, that is what music is all about, isn’t it?
How To Get Rid Of Stage Fright, Light and Bright Insight!
There are some fun ways as well. My mother, a flutist, told me that her grandmother (farmer) told her to look at the audience and imagine that they are all cabbage heads. Not as an offense, but the way a cabbage field looks like. And play for the food you will be blessed to eat.
However, my mother somehow wasn’t that much into cabbage and found another way: She imagined everyone naked! Literally without clothes. She was the only one dressed and her sound would dress the audience slowly. Piece by piece.
At the end of the concert everyone is dressed and happily applauding. Lights are turned back on and she can smile at the great job she had done!!
Understandably, I’m very happy that her audience never knew why she was radiant and smiling so much. They just thought she was confident and a fantastic musician, offering generously good feelings and beautiful sounds.
Isn’t that awesome? Try it out and let me know if it worked! Or find you own story and let us all know how you did it.
Link it to a vibration of joy, fun, lightness, ease and happiness.
Musicians And Stage Fright No More – Highlight!
How do you handle stage fright? What is your solution? Please share you experience in the comment section below and let us know how you deal with stage fright.
What have you tried and does it work?
We would love to read you ideas.
Leave us a comment below!
Happy and fulfilling performance,
If it has been a while since your last performance, read our article about how to get back up to speed quickly!!
Janie from Topflute