Posted Apr 10, 2012 - Performance - No Comments

How to Combat Nerves

How to Combat Nerves

You stare at the recital program and can’t take your eyes off of your printed name. Your sweaty palms nervously crinkle the program as you wait for your turn. You feel dizzy, your stomach is tied in knots, and all these horrible “what-if” scenarios flood your mind uncontrollably. You hear the musician right before you finish playing their last note and the audience applauds. Oh no. This is it. There’s no turning back now!

Does this scenario sound a bit familiar to you? It’s the common case of THE NERVES. What are they? Why do I get nervous? How can I make them go away? How long do they last? I HATE THEM!

Here are the ultimate steps to master those frantic nerves and take back that wonderful feeling of control!

Study these tips below and really come to understand them. Memorize them and let them become a part of you! It will change how you feel when you perform.

1. Acceptance

Oftentimes, we combat nerves by telling ourselves that we simply are not nervous. This little form of denial might seem to work at first, but then it bites us in the behind later on. This is because we need to face our nerves, not run away from them! Accept the fact that you’re nervous, and then properly deal with it. It’s like taming a wild horse. Acting like it’s perfectly safe and tame while it’s wildly bucking you off its back won’t make it any safer, or any tamer. But the process of teaching it properly will give you the confidence and safety you need. Acceptance is the first step in taming that wild animal called “nerves.”

2. Know that you are not alone!

When we are in panic mode and the adrenaline is really starting to kick in, all we can think of is, “what’s wrong with me?” “Am I crazy?” Nothing is wrong with you, and you are not crazy! A concert pianist who performs around the world once told me that she still gets nervous for every performance! She told me that the nerves will always be there, but you learn to get used to them and deal with them so it won’t affect you. See? Even the top musicians in the music world have the common case of the nerves!

3. Redirect your energy

The reason why you are nervous is because you care! If you didn’t care, there wouldn’t be anything to worry about. So use your nerves to your advantage. The reason why you care is because you are passionate about your music and for all the joy it brings you. Now take that passion and allow others to experience it as well through your performance. Feel that adrenaline rush through your body and direct it towards excitement and eagerness to share your talent.

4. Expect mistakes

Performing is such a remarkable experience because you enter a world of possibility. Really, anything can happen– good or bad. While many positive outcomes may occur, it is sometimes impossible to escape negative ones. It is crucial to emotionally prepare yourself for possible errors, memory slips, distractions, or what have you. But in the end, it’s okay! You’re alive and life goes on!

Even in the worst case scenario of potentially humiliating yourself:
  • You will still continue to grow as a musician and perform in the future.
  • It is simply added experience. You will have greater insight into how to prepare for the next performance.
  • You will have empathy for others who have had or will have a similar experience.
  • All musicians have made mistakes during a performance. You are not alone!
  • It could always be worse! No really, it could!

Overall, no matter what kind of mishap you have, it’s still a success that you went out there with courage and performed to the best of your ability with your given situation. Don’t just focus on the bad (I bet you played or sang more correct notes than sour ones!), remember that every performance is magical and can never be perfectly repeated which makes it original! Performing is like sharing a vulnerable piece of yourself to the world and letting them in your heart, even for a small moment. Perform as much as possible to gain as much experience and control over your nerves as you can get! Never give up!

Let us know what you think!

Are there any other steps that you find helpful?
Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below!