You have been playing for years, probably since you were little, yet every time you have a performance, you freeze. Your stomach starts churning; you break out in sweat; you can’t think straight or remember the notes. Sounds familiar? How do you get over your stage fright?
Do remember one thing. Stage fright is common to many performers, but the trick is to not let the audience find out. Some succeed in keeping their anxiety a secret. Some struggle. If it’s affecting your piano recital, we suggest you look through our suggestions to unwind.
You first need to identify the signs of anxiety and see if you are in that bracket.
Do you go through any of the following?
- Butterflies in your stomach
- Rapid breathing
- Shaky hands, feet or voice
- Cold, clammy hands
- Restless or difficulty in sleeping
- Lack of focus
- Stress or a headache
If you’re nodding to any of these or all, look below for our tips to help you overcome your fright.
The Scientific Reasons Behind Anxiety
You will be glad to know that the anxiety is not just a figment of your imagination. There is a scientific reason behind it. The biopsychosocial stress model explains it all. Experts say that “anxiety is the product of a complex and dynamic cognitive appraisal process which actively balances an individual’s perceptions of resources, situational demands, and internal and external sources of feedback, prior to, during and following performances.”
In simple words, your brain compares your skills with the expectations of the audience and gets you worried about the outcome. For some that translate to the excitement. For others, it reflects anxiousness. The danger of anxiousness is the inability to concentrate on the performance, leading to blunders.
7 Ways to Overcome Stage Fright
There are many ways to get over stage fright but what works for one person may not work for another. For instance, some say bananas have enzymes that calm the nerves but others get queasy if they have one.
Similarly, chamomile or black tea can help lower cortisol levels but you may not be comfortable filling up your bladder right before a performance. The best way to beat the nerves is simply by building your confidence. Practice until you are perfect; make sure you play on the highest quality instrument, and the rest is easy.
1. Daily Practice: Daily practice can make you feel better about your ability. Don’t let complaining neighbors stop you. Just close the door, fix a time and hit the piano keys every single day.
2. Don’t worry about mistakes: Everyone fumbles. Even Beethoven didn’t get his compositions right in one go, for all you know. Keep playing, especially when you are on stage.
3. Don’t overthink: Quiet your mind with deep breathing. Inhale deeply, hold your breath for a couple of seconds, exhale deeply. Repeat six times. It works wonders.
4. Don’t dwell over your weaknesses: Don’t keep thinking about the mistake you made. To succeed, you have to fall down a few times. It’s no big deal!
5. Distract yourself: Talk with a friend who supports you. Crack jokes, laugh or just chat about topics other than your performance to bring down your jitters. Social interaction with those you are comfortable with can be a great stress buster.
6. Build confidence: Train under a qualified teacher who can help you fine-tune your skill and build your confidence.
7. Play on a reliable piano: Play a high-quality piano that won’t let you down.
The Piano Boutique, Toronto Ontario