Performance Anxiety Tips

The Regina Music Festival has been taking place here in Regina over the past few weeks. After attending various classes and observing how students cope with performance, I have done more research on tips that could help students combat the infamous “performance anxiety”. I came across a website called pianoeducation.org, that featured an article by John M. Zeigler (Ph.D) and Nancy L. Ostromencki that focuses on performance anxiety. The article talks about the “3 P’s” of performance anxiety: preparation, planning, and presence.

Preparation is all about how you spend your practice time at the piano. When a student gets up to perform in front of an audience, the student needs to feel confident in what they have accomplished in their lessons as well as their individual practice time. It is not true that practice makes perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect. If you think about that last statement, it makes sense. If you aren’t spending quality time practicing your pieces properly, you cannot expect your piece to sound polished or have a good performance with it.

Planning is when the performer knows before they perform what they want to achieve in the performance. It is like setting goals. Do you want to have great phrasing or are you consciously thinking about balance between the hands in that sonata? This must be thought of before going up to play because if it hasn’t been, how can a person expect to hear those specific details when they perform?

Presence is the focusing of your most powerful weapon; your mind! Once you have done the work on preparation and planning, you can rest easy knowing you are prepared to perform. So, DO NOT try to cram the night before or the day of. When a person attempts to cram it sends a signal to the brain that you are not confident enough in your preparation and you start to second guess yourself. Therefore, once you get to the final days before a performance, relax and rest in the fact that you have done all the hard work so you can enjoy your own performance!

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