I’m talking about performing…. Performing in front of others…. Others that don’t include your teacher, significant other, the goldfish or the dog.
Ooh the mere thought of it sends some into veritable conniptions!
Feelings of nausea, dread, impending doom, going into battle or even to one’s demise are feelings that most of us have experienced at one time or another when nearing a performance.
And that’s ok. Seriously. It’s a completely natural reaction that the mind and body has to a perceived threat. That threat is obviously not a physical threat – no one’s going to punch you out for fluffing a note or two, at least you hope not. It’s a threat to our egos and our self-esteem. I’ve spoken a bit about this subject before in a recent post.
And for those who are stepping up to the plate for the first time these feelings may not really have been experienced before or not in the intensity with which they now appear, I can tell you that it’s all perfectly natural. It’s ok. In fact it’s more than ok to have these feelings (first up, it means you care about what you’re going. Always a good start). Not only that, you have permission to feel these feelings – don’t try and run from it, suppress it or hide from it. What challenge or issue was ever really truly solved by taking that course of action, hey?
It’s just our brain’s protective system trying to look after us. It’s trying to do us a favour. It’s trying to keep us nice and comfortable.
Some people are happy with comfortable. But nothing much was ever achieved with comfortable. To learn, develop and grow one needs to get a little uncomfortable. Think on the nerves as growing pains. An inevitable part of growing up.
And I applaud wholeheartedly those that step forward, step up, willing to take the feedback, willing to learn from their experience. It does take courage, it is a little bit icky and challenging. That’s half the “fun”! If it were so easy everyone would be doing it! But you, considering performing, or getting up there for the 100th or 1000th time, you’re special for doing that. Don’t forget it! You’re bloody awesome whatever the outcome of the performance. Just remember to use the experiences of the performance to make yourself, your playing, even better.
So my advice for those just getting into performing just get out there and do it! Like most other things, the more you practice performance, the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. So dive in and roll with it, feel the feelings, embrace shaky hands, embrace fuzzes and buzzes and memory black spots and grow with the experience.
- Feel the Fear – Addressing Performance Anxiety – What are you most afraid of? (classicalguitarnstuff.com)