A thing that divides us and brings us together. A thing we have all felt during our careers. A thing that whether we struggle or not, we all have a relationship with.
The anxiety we feel before a performance is mostly caused by our learnt distaste for failure which stems from fear of judgement.
In the long term, we should aim to be at ease with the concept of failure, and incorporate coping methods into our practice so that even if the worst happens it will be manageable.
But for the short term?
1. Keep Your Fingers Warm
Maybe this sounds like a basic point, but you will not be able to warm up if you are not physically warm.
Keeping your hands warm is a vital part of the preparation process.
Try bringing gloves or hand warmers to your concert venue. Churches aren’t necessarily the warmest of places!
2. Quiet Your Mind
Focussing your mind is not always straight forward, especially if you are not sure what to focus on! Before a performance, take 5 minutes (if you have it) to meditate on a clear space.
Racking your brain through thousands of notes before a performance will not enhance your experience. Try to calm your mind, focus on the now, breathe.
3. Hold or Sit With Your Instrument
It is important that you feel unity with your instrument before performance. Your experience on stage will be a duet or a wrestling match based on the strength of your connection.
So take the time to sit with your instrument, even just touching the wood, there is an inexplicable energy in instruments which you will need to wake up before you perform.
4. Focus On You
Before you walk on stage, give space to how you are feeling. Try to be aware of how you feel, emotionally and physically.
It is not necessary that you attempt to change any of these things right now, being at peace is being at ease with the observations you make.
Realise how alive you feel at this moment.
Walking on stage can feel like a tussle between fight and flight, life and death. But really all we are tasked with is sharing the music we have practised, with an audience made up of people who want to listen.
It’s about time we realised that performance can be a positive experience of sharing our love for music, instead of a fight to be on top of our game.
Learning to love the process backstage is just as important as learning to finesse the process on stage.