Recital Stress

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IMG_3796Musicians may feel stressed about performing.  We get stressed because we are afraid we are not good enough, or that we will mess up and disappoint ourselves or our loved ones and maybe that people will laugh at us. Here are a few tips for musicians and for supporters to alleviate recital stress!

Performing for others is an art in itself.  We rehearse our pieces carefully until they are polished, but sometimes when we actually perform them in public, the act of performing is uncomfortable and interferes with our playing.  Practice performing can help make performing comfortable and allow the work we do practicing and preparing pieces show through to our audiences. The more we perform, the more effectively we can communicate our music to our audience!

Feeling a little nervous before a performance is part of your body’s way of helping you do your best. A little bit of nervousness helps the performer focus.   But too much nervousness before a performance interferes with the performer’s ability to concentrate and play.

These tips can help you avoid feeling too much recital stress:

  1. Be prepared. You’re less likely to mess up if you’re well prepared. Rehearse as much as you can and practice in front of others at every opportunity. Practice your instrument while wearing the outfit you anticipate wearing to the recital to make sure it is comfortable and doesn’t have zippers or buttons that make buzzing sounds when you play.
  2. Recognize how prepared you are. Confidence helps combat stress!  When your teacher gives you positive feedback, write it down on your practice chart!  Check off the days you practice on your practice charts; then if you think “I can’t do this,” you can check the chart to see how well prepared you are.  Listen to your friends and family when they tell you how well prepared you are and how good you sound!
  3. Prepare to be nervous. Prepare for the pre-performance jitters as well as the performance itself. Tuck some of your favorite pictures into your violin case, listen to favorite songs on your mp3 player before the concert or in the car on the way to the concert,  practice a little yoga or try breathing techniques to help feel calm. Sit with a friend or family member that helps you feel relaxed.
  4. Take care of yourself. Before recitals it’s easy to let taking care of yourself slip as you spend too much time practicing. You’ll look and feel your best if you get enough sleep and eat a light healthy meal before your performance. Get a little exercise on the day of your recital.
  5. Take care of others.   Sometimes the best medicine for feeling nervous is to support your friends and your family members.  Share what works for you with others. Give your dad a reassuring hug.  Gently and quietly let your friend know if their fly is down before they go on stage.  If a friend says they forgot to eat lunch, offer up your emergency granola bar!  If another performer forgets how their piece goes or forgets to bow, clap anyway and offer a hug and the seat next to you.  We are blessed with the knowledge gleaned from the goofs of others.   Every performance is a practice!

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