Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Has it ever happened to you that you had a work perfectly studied and at the moment of the concert you have not been able to give the best of yourself? Have nerves played a trick on you? Practice and knowledge alone is not enough when fear and nerves are capable of ruining an interpretation. For this it is essential to achieve a mentality and psychological disposition that allows to take advantage of all the available potential.
WHAT DO WE MEAN WITH SCENIC FEAR?
Fear is an involuntary reaction of our organism that occurs as a preparatory mechanism in the face of a dangerous or emergency situation. It is a fantastic tool that has served the human being throughout his evolution to survive. However, fear is a great obstacle when it manifests in a situation that does not pose a real danger, such as playing in public (piano,singing, guitar,etc). This exaggerated fear is what is known as stage fright and affects a huge number of musicians, producing in them physiological reactions (dry mouth, trembling and excessive sweating in the hands, acceleration of the pulse, muscular tension ...) and thoughts irrational.
WHY DO I BECOME NERVOUS WHEN I PLAY?
Fear of failure and high perfectionism. Anxiety and excessive perfectionism are closely related. Although during the study you must pay attention to correct any errors, you have to assume that errors or imperfections during the interpretation can happen because you are human.
Low self-esteem. A lack of confidence in yourself means that you have doubts about your ability to play a good performance and that undoubtedly leads to failure.
Examples: "I always get bad auditions", "I'm not worth for this".
Focus on the results. Learn to enjoy the path and process, rather than the final result. Examples: "If I do not get it right, I will not get the place to enter the Conservatory”. Excess of mental activity. When you are continuously bombarded with instructions and thoughts, your mind is blocked and nerves appear.
Examples: "Do not forget the silence of compass 14 ...", "Beware of running in the sixteenths of the scales". Worry about what they will say or the expectations of others. The pressure to have a good image before others manifests itself in adults and not so much in children. As we grow, we fear more the evaluation of others. Examples: "If I fail, what will my teacher think?", "I'm afraid he does not like the concert to the public”.
Other reasons: Excessive shyness or introversion, insufficient and inadequate study, touching works above your level, etc.
GET A SUCCESSFUL PRE-ACTION MENTALITY
1. IDENTIFY AND REPLACE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS The life we have is a direct consequence of what we think. Therefore, you should take care of your daily thoughts that define your way of understanding the world and, in this case, music. Analyze for a while the language you use when you talk to yourself during the study or before a performance. Are you really objective or do you have rather irrational thoughts? Make a list with all of them and rewrite them from your most rational part and try to be more constructive and realistic. Example: Negative thinking: "The performance will be awful, as always.” More "rational" substitution: "I am anticipating in an irrational way something that does not have to happen and that is the product of my nerves."
The fact that on other occasions I have not had a good performance does not mean that this time it has to be I have prepared myself as well as possible and I am going to focus on giving the best of myself. “
2. FOSTER POSITIVE THOUGHTS. Although it may seem silly, repeating positive phrases to your brain helps to have greater confidence in yourself and to calm your unconscious mind. You can use these examples as a guide to create your own list of positive thoughts that you will use as a mantra: - ”I have played the piece many times without problem, I just have to repeat what my hands and brain have done so many times during these months." - “Nerves help me stay alert and get better performance, I do not have to fight against them." - “I'm going to give my best." - “I want to share with the audience what I love the most and let them enjoy it as much or more as when I go to a concert by someone else”. - “...”
I also advise you to collect the positive experiences you have experienced in past auditions and bring them frequently to your conscious.
WKMT London Music Festivals - Preparing students to perform in front of the audience