Although many people may daydream about receiving standing ovations and fans going wild during a performance, not as many daydream about the work it takes to get on the stage in the first place. Beating stage fright is a concern for performers, no matter how often they fight the battle. Lots of musicians wish they could play in front of an audience without feeling any anxiety, but for many that is just not a reality. So, what do you do?
First of all, make sure you are prepared. The more you have practiced your music, the less thinking you will have to do during your performance. Stage fright begins in the mind. Whether you are worried about making mistakes, seeing someone you know, or blowing the crowd’s mind, all anxiety begins with your thoughts. The more you practice, the less you have to think about the music. It will pour out of you. Practice your music until your body needs little instruction from your brain to get the job done.
In addition to making sure you know your music front, back, and side-to-side, learn to control your thinking. Believe it or not, what you think is under your control. Focus on the results you want, not the results you don’t want. If possible, learn to clear your mind through meditation and other mindfulness practices. Since you will be thinking, anyway, give in to a little ego boost before a performance. Tell yourself how wonderful your skills are and remind yourself that you are going to wow the audience. Even if you don’t quite believe yourself and end up laughing at yourself, you will have boosted your mood. The better your mood is during your performance, the better you are likely to play.
Another method that helps with beating stage fright is to do a little physical activity right before performing. Some performers may jog around backstage, some simply stomp their feet and clap their hands until they feel they have released all the pent-up energy that comes with anxiety, and find that drumming helps release endorphins, as well. The point is to get moving. Shake, do a little jig, whatever works for you. Release that extra energy pumping through your body in a positive way and you may feel less overwhelmed.
Stage fright gets to the best of us. Famous musicians throughout history have endured it and you can, too. By preparing your body and your mind, you may find that stage fright is just another name for energy. After all, to perform well, your body needs to gather up its energy and prepare it for use. Eventually, you may find that your focus has shifted from beating stage fright to thanking your body for preparing for success in the best way it can.