I have two important messages to share with anyone who suffers from stage fright. First, you are not alone. Second, please do not despair.
I am talking because I know.
I, too, suffer from stage fright. I, too, know the devastating effects it can have on your mental clarity, emotional state, and physical awareness and execution. But I have also learned a wide variety of practical ways to transform feelings of dread and frustration into healthy nerves that can be our best friend.
To that end, we are going to change the way we think and feel…
- by understanding what performance anxiety really is,
- by clarifying our motivations for music-making,
- by aligning our thinking with reality,
- and by re-framing our attitudes toward performance.
Importantly, we are also going to change the way we behave…
- by practicing having stage fright…
- by seeing how it affects our bodies…
- and by responding with constructive counter-measures!
In doing so, we are going to override the primitive emotional and physical responses that, by predisposition or conditioning, prevent us from being our best selves. We are going to eliminate unproductive and destructive thought-feelings we no longer want to have in our brains and bodies.
Along the way, we are going to learn that performance anxiety is not a permanent character trait… and that managing our nerves is a challenge to be overcome like any other…. part of the process of learning how to play… along with mastering scales, solfege, chords, rhythm, form, technique, or any other aspect of our musicianship.
And we are going to touch upon many aspects of what it means to be human… with honesty, humor, and courage.