Have you ever dreamed of performing a piece you created for others. Imagining that they are captivated and held spellbound by the music? If you have, you know that it can be a long road from actually coming up with something, practicing it, and then giving it to an audience. In my own case, I had a good opportunity to perform. It was in a coffeehouse that already had a decent piano.
The problem was that I was playing for people who had come to listen mostly to guitarists on open mike night. Young guitarists that sang and played mostly Rock music or a derivative of it. I didn’t care so much about that because I had the chance to go in front of people and share the gift of music.
In public speaking it’s said that the fear of standing in front of a group of people and talking is caused by the anticipation of losing face – of looking or appearing like a fool. Now, some may be able to get up in front of a group and actually feel better than they felt before getting in front of people, but the reality is that 99% of us are going to feel some kind of anxiety.
There are two schools about stage fright. One school believes that you can completely rid yourself of it (extremely hard to do and a somewhat unrealistic). The other says that you can never fully conquer the fear but you can manage it and reduce it to a level where you can function and perform.
So far, I’m in the second group and I’ve learned a few techniques that allow me to perform well. One is that I practice enough to where I feel confident that I can perform above the normal level. The second technique is to accept the feelings of fear and reframe it into the emotion of excitement. In other words, I may be scared, but I’m also feeling excited. I focus on that part.
Most of the performance anxiety will dissipate soon after your performance begins anyway. It’s usually the first 10 minutes or so when you’re the most anxious. My goal when I get on stage is to focus on and enjoy the process of sharing the music with others. My focus is not on the audience.
The best performances occur when you can completely forget about the fact there are people listening. Then they can share in the magic that comes through you.
Edward Weiss is a pianist/composer and webmaster of Quiescence Music’s online piano lessons. He has been helping students learn how to play piano in the New Age style for over 14 years and works with students in private, in groups, and now over the internet. Stop by now at http://www.quiescencemusic.com/piano_lessons.html for a FREE piano lesson!