Are you a Musician suffering with Performance Anxiety?

Emma Greveson | 15th February 2018

Do you suffer with performance anxiety and/or nerves? Emma has been doing her research and has found some resources that you can refer to for practice methods and positive thinking to overcome your nerves.

“The Inner Game of Music” by Barry Green and Timothy Gallwey talk about how the power of awareness can help overcome performance anxiety. “Here’s the strategy: by accepting distractions and then consciously choosing to focus our attention elsewhere, we can increase our awareness of the music – and lesson the amount of frustration we feel at the distractions.” (p51, B. Green & T. Gallwey 1986). This is a really good book if you suffer with performance anxiety, it outlines different strategies and thinking methods that you can apply to yourself during practice and performance.

Another piece of advice that I thought was really interesting was in the book “Mastering the art of performance” by Stewart Gordon. To overcome the fear of making a mistake you should try to “actually mark these places in your music or stage directions, so that your entire blueprint is marked off into segments. Give each a number” (p88, S. Gordon 2006). Personally, I think this is a really good way  of dealing with the fear of making a mistake…since reading this section of the book I mark these places in my own music with hints and tips like which finger I need to use, or by highlighting an accidental I have missed a couple of times.

Blogger, Bulletproof Musician says that we should self-talk to encourage us to think positively, “for better or for worse, we tend to listen to ourselves and believe the things that we say to ourselves. If you tell yourself that you are a failure and untalented hack, and do so consistently and repeatedly, you will start to believe that you are indeed a failure. You will soon begin to feel like a failure, and ultimately act in ways that will confirm this perception of yourself, “proving” that you are indeed a failure.” (N. Kageyama, nd.) To the right is a comparable table from the “Bulletproof Musician” which shows examples of the negative way of thinking against how you can turn it around to be positive thinking.

For anyone suffering with performance anxiety, I would suggest reading these books and articles; they are fascinating and contain some great tips. You can apply the methods to your own practice and playing and if you’re a teacher there are some really good suggestions for methods of teaching people who suffer with performance anxiety.

On a personal note, I found that this research helped me greatly when I was preparing for my ABRSM Grade 8 Piano exam when I was younger. I have always been a nervous performer and have found that the only way to get over this is to keep trying to perform in front of people - whether it’s a friend, your family, or by getting involved in small performances in your area.


If anyone would like to comment, share your stories or methods then feel free to do so! Join the conversation on Facebook.



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