Stage Fright! My Top Five Tips In Dealing With It

Hi there folks. It’s been another busy one for me this week, on my travels around the country. This has given me a chance to catch up on some reading however, including an article sent through to me earlier this week (thanks Rick).

This particular article was a rather interesting one on the subject of stage fright. Stage fright is something that most of us experience to a greater or lesser degree, when performing to small groups in an informal setting, exams, recitals and larger more formal settings. And it can afflict professionals just as much as amateurs. The article states that a survey undertaken in 2012 of German orchestras found that a third of musicians were feeling the nerves affected them so much they were taking beta blockers to control their nerves. Personally, I often feel more nervous performing to smaller groups of people in a small setting than I do to lots of people in a larger, more formal setting. Go figure!

So stage fright and nerves really does affect all sorts of musicians, amateur and professional, solo and orchestral, to differing levels. So there’s absolutely no shame, I say, in recognising this fact and embracing the nerves! Well, at least recognising that we have nerves, rather than trying to bury and deny, is the first step in discovering how you personally can work on controlling the stage fright or bringing it to your advantage somehow.

Have a read of the article for yourself:

The article was particularly interesting for me this week as I’m working with a group of non-musicians at the moment on delivering a presentation – rather like stepping up onto a stage to perform, showing folks what you’ve been working on and laying out your thoughts and feelings. I’m finding now that my work, knowledge and training from my musical life can really cross over and benefit in other areas. And I can also help teach and coach others with this too.  Ahh music – the skill that has so many facets I’m still discovering them!

These were my top five tips to my colleagues this week in dealing with their stage fright:

  • Accept that you have nerves and that it’s a “thing”. There’s no shame in it, you’re a human being with feelings, not a robot. It’s OK!
  • Do your preparation leading up to the main event. Go into something knowing you’ve worked very hard, and you’ve put the effort in. Don’t go in there wishing you’d done a whole bunch more!
  • On the day remind yourself of all that hard work. You don’t have to recall every single detail of what you’ve done, but remind yourself to feel safe in the knowledge that you’ve worked to the best of your ability. That’s all anyone can ask of you!
  • Trust yourself – easier said than done, oftentimes, but start thinking on (1) and (2) and know that you know what you need to do. You do. Trust me.
  • I was going to say relax, but that can be a difficult thing to do, and even an abstract concept to the brain, when preparing to go out on stage. Instead focus on deepening your breathing (get some oxygen to parts!), smile (that seems to make me feel a little better) and check to make sure your shoulders are not up round your ears!



3 thoughts on “Stage Fright! My Top Five Tips In Dealing With It

  1. As an amateur musician who has experienced a couple of on-stage blank outs– like those that affected Osborne–I found the Telegraph article interesting but NOT something to show to someone who’s about to give a performance (like my violinist daughter). It’s so easy to psyche oneself out, just by the power of suggestion. Your five tips seemed useful, though, and I might gently pass them on to her.

      1. We arrived from out-of-town, so, sadly, there was no time for advice during the pre-recital preparations (programs, reception)-but she looked relaxed (esp. after the unaccompanied Bach) and poised, even when her shoulder rest fell off near the end of her last piece. I asked her how she stayed calm: she said that she is a good actress! For the second half, she did have her music on a stand (she’s a violinist)–she seldom glanced at it, but it gave her peace.

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