From the article: How to Deal With Stage Fright
Performing in front of an audience brings a high for some musicians, and a bout of panic for others. Stage fright is one of the most conflicting aspects of being a musician, and we all develop different ways of handling it. Share Your Experience
Know the material at any cost
- I am only 16 years old, but I play as church pianist regularly, and have had way more stage experience behind a piano than I would wish upon anyone. My problem with nerves my whole life has centered around forgetting the music. So I've made it mandantory for myself to memorize any music I'll be playing in front of an audience. If you're playing at church with congregational singing, however, make absolutely sure you're playing at the right tempo. Truth be told, most people won't even know a mis take was made unless you stop playing or start crying or something. I've messed up literally thousands of times in front of others, but you really must keep playing. And if people are singing along or other instruments are accompanying you, don't try to correct a mistake, just keep going. It will only confuse the others. And go to the bathroom right before a performance you are nervous about, even if you don't have to. I know it sounds weird, but it helps! lol Hope I helped :)
- —Guest pianogirl97
Perspective is Key
- I play regularly at the Clinton Community College foyer in the midst of many a bustling, busy student; there is criticism, and there is that rare glance of appreciation. No matter what people think, fellow musicians or not, I appear to be unaffected. Why? Because just like any other pianist out there, when I play, I am in tune with the piano, I am, in a sense, one with it. Therefore, outside influences have no effect. However, the stage is a different perspective altogether. What little bit of nervousness should be used to great effect when playing a piece; the idea is that you should discard the rest of the world, if only for a moment, and let it be just you and the piano. If you truly love it so, it will show its appreciation back in terms of an enchanting performance. This advice is for the absolute nervous wrecks. If you enjoy focusing on the inquisitive/sneering/cheerful etc. glances if the audience as you play, you should have no worries. Jazzy jazz, right? ♫
- —Guest Vihan A.w
What was wrong?
- My 7 years old just attended his first solo competition yesterday and he failed miserably! The competition was for 8+ but since he's doing good in his piano class his teacher encouraged him to give it a try. He has practiced the two songs for nearly three month and he's almost always made a couple mistakes here and there. But yesterday he not only paused a few times for one of the songs (forgot which note to go next), but also played the whole first one one octave higher! I can't believe how that could happen. He tolde me the piano looks different but how different it could be? He must be nervous, but I never thought the stage fright can be such destructive! And also, I don't understand for a song he has practiced for so long, he could forgot how to play all in a sudden. Is there anything I can do to help him?
- —Guest Grace
Start by Playing for an Audience of One
- I'll never forget the first time I played the piano for an audience. It was my first concert and it was fairly full up. I was to play my first CD "La Jolla Suite" containing 12 pieces. There was to be one intermission and the whole concert lasted about 80-90 minutes. Let me tell you that I was very nervous. So nervous I didn't think I was going to make it through. Suffice it to say that I really didn't enjoy myself. After many hours of trying to figure out why I was so nervous, the answer came to me - it was because I was self-conscious. I was worried about how I looked, what the music sounded like, etc. I couldn't relax because I was too concerned about what the audience was thinking about me. And to this day, giving concerts is not my favorite thing. I realized that I didn't like being the center of attention. What to do? For most people, myself included, playing in public is a fearful experience. Many suggest that you keep at it and eventually the fear will dissipate. But I
Stage Fright Solutions
- Excellent article, Brandy. Allow me to add that although it's normal for us to experience some degree of nervousness on stage, we can acquire skills that enable us to direct the energy of performing in positive ways. Then, the zing of being under the spotlights fires up rather than undermines our creativity. I've been helping musicians become masterful performers for 30 years, and I articulate strategies to conquer stage fright in my recent book "The Musician's Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness" (Oxford, 2009) and on my blog (check out the 'Performance anxiety' category): http://musiciansway.com/blog/?cat=4 Most important, I believe that we all have the potential to perform soulfully in public because confident performance involves specific skills that any music lover can acquire. Therefore, I encourage every aspiring musician to take stage fright by the horns, get help when needed, and keep on making music.
Confidence Is Key, Even If You Fake It
- I used to have real issues with playing in front of other musicians. Then, I realized that my fear was causing me to be unhappy with the solos. I started to fake being more confident, and the band responded. Don't get me wrong, walking into a session and acting like you're the next Bird or Trane is not the way to go (people will pick up on insecurity and vibe you, which you will well deserve). But, faking a little confidence, and just being sure in the fact that you know what you're doing -- classical or jazz -- will help you understand what it is to be a musician and make music. If you're not a naturally authoritative person, it's the only way to understand what it feels like to be taken seriously by other musicians, especially as a horn player.
- —Guest Tenor Madness