Performance anxiety is a natural response to having to get up in front of others to showcase a skill. If you have a child preparing to perform? Are YOU nervous for your child? We’re going to share some tips with you regarding overcoming performance anxiety.
Before we get into tips for your child, lets talk about you for a moment. As your child prepares for a music recital, if you are experiencing performance anxiety on your child’s behalf, that’s perfectly normal, but what you decide to do with that anxiety can have an impact on how your child is able to handle his/her own nervousness. If you are stressed about your child performing, try to relax, at least in front of your child. Your stress is contagious, and if your child is already nervous, your stress will make it worse for him. She will pick up on your anxious cues and become anxious herself, even if she wasn’t really that nervous to begin with. And just remember: playing in a recital is a wonderful growth opportunity for your child, and even if he/she does make a mistake it’s not the end of the world. So try to enjoy the process.
Okay, so how can your child deal with his performance anxiety? Well, the first thing is to recognize that feeling nervous is not a bad thing! Most performers (even professional) get jitters before they go on stage. These jitters are from adrenalin rushing through our bodies. Musicians need to learn how to harness this adrenalin and use it to their advantage to power their performance with confidence, passion, and power. This adrenalin is a signal to the brain that it needs to “turn on” and work with excellence.
Here are a few tips to gain control over performance anxiety:
- Think positively. Don’t focus on what you might do wrong. Set goals for yourself, and repeat these goals to yourself. For example the student can say to himself, “I am going to play wonderfully.” Or “I will be calm and confident and give a fantastic performance.”
- Don’t focus on negatives or timid thinking such as, “I hope I don’t mess up.” Or “I won’t forget my songs.” Make sure the thoughts stay positive, focusing on what you WILL do as opposed to what you WON’T do or HOPE you will or won’t do.
- Breathe! When we are scared we start breathing quickly. Focusing on taking deep breaths and slowing down the breathing will effectively help relax the body and mind.
- Rehearse. Obviously we all know practicing the songs is very important, but also important is actually rehearsing. Make sure to run through the performance routine many times in the weeks leading up to the recital. If the student goes through the motions enough times it will become second nature to her. Stress often comes from the fear of the unknown, or unanswered questions. As I was developing my music abilities, much of my stress before performances came from not knowing how things would play out. When do I bow? When will I walk on stage? Will I be in the audience or backstage, etc. I knew the music very well, but not being confident in all the other little things can shake a person’s confidence. So, rehearse many times so you don’t have to worry about the little extras. Click here to read Starlight’s Recital Preparation Tips.
- Visualize. Imagine (with a positive attitude) what it will be like to walk on stage. Imagine yourself playing the song perfectly. Visualize how pleased the audience will be. Hear the applause in your head. Smile! See yourself stand up and take a bow. Imagine the satisfaction and victory you will feel by working so hard and performing well.
- On the day of the recital, relax. Get a good night’s sleep the day before, eat nutritiously, and relax. Try to allow extra time to get ready so you’re not rushing around. If the performer is stressed about other things, that will carry over into their feelings about performing.
- Note on nutrition: parents, be mindful of the food you’re feeding your children on the day of the recital. It might sound fun to make a special breakfast or lunch loaded with white flour and sugar, but be mindful that sugar, white flour, caffeine, etc. will make the child feel more anxious leading up to the performance. It will truly help them if you feed them proteins, vegetables, and good fats.
Well, there you have it, hopefully some of these tips will help your child harness the adrenalin rush that comes from getting up on stage instead of experiencing performance anxiety. At the end of the day, focus as much as possible on making the performance fun and enjoyable!