Back in high school, I was really confident performing music on stage, whether it was in school or in the community. My attitude was, “I own this stage; no one can take it away from me.”
But then, I hit a real low point in my life and my playing, and I experienced fears that I never could have imagined before.
Almost overnight I was afraid to play in public. I was even terrified to play at rehearsals, and to even practice in my own room because people could hear me!
For years, I would suffer from this debilitating performance anxiety. I lost my edge and my drive and my confidence. It was humiliating.
Lots of research and study, and facing my fears helped me to get past this horrible time in my life, and a few years later I was back performing on stage again. This time in front of hundreds and even thousands of audience members.
What led to this extreme performance anxiety? How did I eventually get over it?
Feeling Confident Performing Music; Your Music Performance Mindset
You’re probably looking at this title, and wondering, what does mindset have to do with my own music playing? You may be thinking, “I just want to figure out how to play the theme from Star Wars.”
Or maybe you are playing in a community group or church, and are thinking, “I only need to think about playing the notes and rhythms on the page so I don’t sound bad in front of everyone else.”
Or, you’re playing a classical piece of music in preparation for an upcoming concert, and approaching a trouble spot – a spot where there are many 16th notes in a row, and you have to coordinate your fingers, air and tongue in order to be able to play it. You may be thinking, “Oh no, this spot again. I’ll never get this at tempo in time for the concert even though I keep practicing it over and over.”
In all these situations, your mindset plays a huge part in helping you prepare to perform the music you are working on. In fact, it plays a larger role than you could possibly imagine.
What does it mean to have a music performance mindset? Is it only for professional musicians, or can hobbyists and amateurs benefit?
To achieve a performance mindset, you have to be willing to approach your practicing and performance with focus and determination.
Some of the most successful athletes and musicians in the world know how to get their mind “in the zone” when performing in public. They have practiced their performance mindset in the practice room or on the field for many years so that when performance time came, they were ready.
They practice certain mental techniques and exercises, such as meditation and visualization just as much as practicing their craft. In fact, there have been many studies that have shown improved results from adding these techniques to one’s practice regimen.
But you don’t have to be a professional musician or athlete to use the techniques. In fact, meditation and visualization can help everyone achieve their goals.
There are literally hundreds of apps and tools, both free and paid, to help you meditate and achieve the focus you need.
Another way to achieve a performance mindset and build your confidence is to be prepared. Preparation comes from carefully-though-out goals and practice sessions to achieve those goals.
A third way to build your confidence with your performance is to take the focus off of you. Who are you really performing for?
When you are on a stage, whether it’s as a soloist, part of a jazz quartet, concert band, orchestra, choir, etc., you are performing for the audience!
The audience is there to be entertained, and it’s your job to do that. Have fun with it – isn’t performing music supposed to be fun?