Day 5: Performance Anxiety
How do you beat it?
I still perform in public. I’m a professional singer/songwriter you know but before I hop on a stage and fearlessly belt a song, I am an anxious wreck.
I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I don’t do it as frequently unlike before or because I have insecurity issues.
For what it’s worth, anxiety is pretty common even amongst professional musicians. In one survey, 96% of the orchestra musicians surveyed admitted to anxiety before performances. In another survey of 48 ICSOM orchestras, 1 out of every 4 musicians said that stage fright was a problem for them.
“Ok, fine, but the fact that Rubinstein struggled with nerves isn’t going to help me win an audition.”
Good point…but there’s more.
Have you ever had a performance when everything just “clicked?” Where you felt like you were in total control, everything just flowed easily, and you sounded great (at least until you started thinking about how well everything was going)? You may have heard of this referred to as “the zone.” Well, this magical state pretty much requires that you experience some degree of anxiety. No anxiety, no zone.
If you ever get to a point in your career where you start feeling nothing and walk on-stage as if it’s no different than going for a walk in the park (i.e. it’s just another day, another venue, and you’re just mailing it in), your audience is probably not going to get the best performance you have to offer.
If you want your performance to really reach out and grab the audience, you kind of need that adrenaline to give it that extra pop and sizzle that is missing in the practice room. The problem is not adrenaline itself, but not knowing how to control, manage, and channel it effectively into your performances.
But for me, I have these series of things I do to cope with it. I prepare.