Updated: Nov 20, 2020
In everyday life, your sense of nervousness is somehow contained. However, in an unusual situation such as a piano performance or any other instrument, there is a super saturation of factors that cause nervousness: the pressure of playing flawlessly, lack of time to practise the piece before and most importantly, the live audience that will be in the Concert Hall.
Before the live performance, there are natural barriers that can control nervousness, such as a flow of adrenalin, a sense of accomplishment, or even being unaware of the reactions your body/mind will have if this is your first concert. We have to take advantage over these phenomena and learn how to convert a stressful situation into one that serves our purpose, which is playing music and share it with other people.
HOW DOES IT FORM
How does nervousness grow out of control? How it is formed in the first place? Let’s try to see it scientifically, this might give provide us with an objective look upon something that looks indomitable due to its unconscious nature.
Anything in our known planet forms in two stages, inception and growth.
HOW TO PREVENT IT
We can seize the stage fright at the inception stage; if we can prevent its beginning, it will never form a critical stage in which will go out of hands.
A couple of possible solutions can be playing easier pieces, mock recitals will give you more experience and confidence; this will increase your confidence and reduce dramatically your worry towards your performance as you get used to playing the pieces and reduce the fear of an unknown situation.
Nervousness is generally worst before a performance; once you start playing, you are so busy with the task at hand that there is no time to dwell on nervousness, so it might be a good idea to keep yourself occupied while waiting for the recital to begin; it can be anything that keeps your mind busy but try to keep yourself a way of talking to other performers, sometimes that can easily make your anxiety levels to escalate. Keep focused on the music you are about to play.
For an important recital, avoiding nucleation is probably not possible. Therefore we should examine ways to discourage growth. Since nervousness generally decreases after the performance starts, this knowledge can be used to reduce the worry and therefore the anxiety.
Playing devoting yourself entirely to the musicality of the piece – when you can involve your entire brain in the business of creating music, there are little brain resources left to worry about anything else. These are all measures for reducing growth.
It is not a good idea to pretend that nervousness does not exist, this can only increase the stress. For young students, the parents and friends attending the recital should be aware of this situation. Phrases like “I hope you aren’t nervous!” are almost certain to cause stress. On the other hand, to completely ignore nervousness and send kids out to perform with no performance training can cause undesirable consequences. That is why it is paramount to openly discuss this feeling before.
Another idea is to choose very easy pieces to perform the very first time, so they can be performed without nervousness and that will set up the mindset for future concerts. Also, there is a technique that proved to be very useful: the days before the concert and the same day as well, imagine you have already played, and try focus on how you feel after you have played, try to hold on that thought; this will “trick” your mind as you will set your reality (your focus) in the experience after the “stressful” situation has passed.
Stage fright is basically nervousness that has spiralled out of control. To believe you are the only one that gets anxious will be inaccurate and untrue. Truth is, everyone does, and should. We only need to contain nervousness so that it does not grow out of control. Realizing that a certain amount of nervousness is normal is the best starting point for learning to control it
The best policy for nervousness is honesty – we must acknowledge it and how this affects each one, is very personal but we should always treat it accordingly.
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