I’m not a psychiatrist or therapist but here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned throughout my music career concerning stage fright and performance anxiety that goes beyond taking deep breaths and practicing a lot.
What are you so afraid of? Why?What’s the worst that can happen? You make a mistake then what? You get embarrassed? You think people will think less of you? Why? You’ve been writing, speaking, walking your whole life and you mess those up? Everybody does. You’re allowed to mess up and if people think less of you because of that, that’s their problem, not yours. Be kind to yourself.
What can you do? Practice in front of people as much as you can without putting pressure on yourself. If you have an important concert coming, go busking! Low pressure performance scenarios are great. You might get some new fans! Practice in front of strangers that are preoccupied! Not just for your family or studio.
Tessa Violet: This performance you have coming up isn’t the be-all, end-all. It’s one of many performances you’ll have. One mess up at one concert shouldn’t end a career. Mistakes help us learn and grow. Make mistakes! They show you who your true support system and help you hone your talent.
What’s your support system like? Is it truly supportive? Does your support pressure you or degrade you if you have a hiccup? Does your support coddle you? You can have a system that can be honest (as long as it’s constructive criticism) without treating you like you’re helpless.
Is flute more of a hobby? If the flute/music world truly makes you miserable, there’s nothing wrong with having your major be something that causes you less turmoil and having flute be a hobby or something you do on the weekends.
What happens if you mess up? Life goes on. Maybe people will be glad it’s you and not them up there for a moment but they move on. Are your conversations always perfect? Do you always walk perfectly? Is it reasonable to expect people to treat you as less than because you mess up in those situations? No! You’re allowed to make mistakes and move on. Do you need to have a big sit down on what you need to learn from all the time? Newp. Life happens.
Think about WHAT you’re doing, and not HOW you’re doing (e.g., make sure the crescendo is dramatic here, adjust your top lip on this note, this certain note is coming up make sure you lower your jaw.) The more you get outside of yourself and into the music, the better.