Growing up, this time of year always left me with a feeling of hope, excitement, and joy to be able to show off the new skills I had learned during the last 6 months of my music lessons. But it also filled me with a huge sense of dread, anticipation, and…ANXIETY, also known as STAGE FRIGHT. It didn’t matter what I did or how hard I tried to psych myself out of it, the fear of performing always got to me and I ended up choking on stage and feeling disappointed with my performance. Over the years, I have taken many classes on overcoming stage fright and learning how to be a confident performer.
Here are a few things parents and students can start doing now that will help combat stage fright when the recital comes around:
1) Learn now how to breathe.
When we start to feel nervous, our heart rate speeds up, sending adrenaline coursing through our bodies and creating that “butterflies in the stomach” feeling, and our breathing tends to get rapid and shallow. The best thing to do when this occurs is to focus on our breathing. Focus on creating a slow, rhythmic breathing pattern. Breathe in on a slow count of four, hold for four seconds, breathe out on a count of four. For younger children, it sometimes helps their focus by having them hold their finger while they breathe in and release the finger when they breathe out.
2) Learn now how to relax the body and relieve tension.
The key to letting go of anxiety is to relax the body. Start with the bottom tips of your toes. Focus on tensing the toe muscle and then releasing the tension. Focus on keeping an even breathing pattern as described above while you do this. Then move up to the muscles in the feet, then calves, thighs, hips, abs, and so on, slowly moving up your body, isolating one body part at a time and tensing the muscles and then releasing the muscles, focusing on breathing and relieving tension. This is a good technique to practice on a daily basis, to help students learn how to relax. The great news is that this technique is useful for our everyday lives as well!
3) Prepare yourself mentally and physically for the performance.
As you begin to learn and practice your performance piece, envision what you want your performance to look and sound like. Every time you practice, pretend it is a performance. You have worked so hard and your performance will be wonderful! When you have learned your piece, practice in front of as many people as possible and as much as possible. This will help you to build your confidence on stage and lessen your anxiety. Get lots of exercise! On the day of the performance, get to the recital early so you have time to mentally prepare yourself. Check out the room and the layout of the recital hall.
And, most of all, remember to SMILE! You have come so far in developing your talents and now it’s your time to shine and be a SUPERSTAR!!!!
-Tricia Gerrard (Bravo Employee)