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Do you have a million thoughts racing through your mind before you perform?

Do you have a million thoughts racing through your mind before you perform?

Today in class, our professor discussed performance anxiety and how this often comes from what we believe are possible judgment statements from others.  I have posted some examples and including some thoughts to counteract these statements.

1.  “There are some seriously good professionals in the audience outside my teacher here, and if I do a bad job, then they will think I am wasting their time.”

Foremost, going back to Freedom directions, these professionals had a choice of whether or not they should come to your concert.  You did not force them to come.  While it is good etiquette to prepare well in order to provide great music for friends and family, you also have to be aware that their approval does not create fear in you because that often brings a lot of physical and mental tension that can cause you to perform worse.

Instead, think that your friends are coming to celebrate your work with you and want to support you no matter how it turns out.  Your music is then an outflow of the gratitude you feel from their appreciation.

2.  “I am not in my best mode right now, so I definitely will not be able to play my best.  That is a shame because this is my recital.”

I am one of those people that practice best at night because that is when I am naturally relaxed since it is the end of the day. I also like practicing late because the recital hall is  I figure that anything I get done is bonus.  Thus, my playing flows, and I feel uninhibited. During the day, I have a lot going on, and sometimes it feels more difficult to be effective because you are transitioning in and out of so many different activities.

However, it is good to practice at the time when you have a recital. More importantly, it is good to realize that you are most likely never going to perform under an ideally perfect situation.  The enemy loves to prey on our perfection, which turns it into judgment, legalism, pride, and anxiety.  If you feel yourself nervous because you have an unideal situation,  practice saying the following prayer: “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect” (Psalm 18:32).

3. “I am much older than the others in the recital.”

As someone who grew up being one of the younger ones in piano competitions and some piano camps, it was definitely a challenge to go back to a camp where you used to be the youngest and not be that way anymore.  This is something that has been a particular struggle because I was viewed as someone with lots of promise.  With the pain in the past two years, I definitely felt “old and decrepit,” even when others at the camp encouraged me to not think I was too old.

This also applies to musicians who may have started later in life.  One thing that people must realize is that being different in a way (whether older or less experienced) brings with it some perks.  For example, older performers can focus on bringing maturity and depth into their playing, while less experienced players can always bring a fresh spark that a more experienced, serious player may have overlooked.  There is something in each of us that can glorify God, which by itself makes what others think not matter. While we may not know what it is, we should pray to seek God’s wisdom.

I can bring up a personal example.  When I attended camp this summer, I had two partially dislocated shoulders that were not diagnosed.  (I thought I would be fine when I applied.)  I did not really understand at first my purpose for being there, but I realized my presence brought encouragement to a few people there who were

Colossians 3:23:”Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

4. “I don’t really know my audience.”

Some people prefer to know their audience, while others prefer not to.  However, again, both views stem from a fear of judgment.  My friend once said to me, “Where words fail, music speaks.”  I think it’s important to realize that music, whether through the sound or our body language and facial expressions, can communicate great things about us in a much more enticing manner than any verbal explanation ever will.

One of my teachers said that music tells a story, and Brene Brown said that those who feel the most connected own their story.  So whether or not you know your audience, trust in your story, and it will become compelling.

5. “My pieces are not demanding, flashy, charismatic enough….”

This is something that I have definitely struggled with coming up to this recital.  I felt doomed because I was preparing something that didn’t have a lot of “oomph” in certain ways that I wanted.  However, I realize that I have some great music, and being able to play them well would still take a certain level of effort.  So, I have been focusing on doing the best that I can in this moment.

Spring is a great time to start going to concerts again.  Often times churches have concert series, such as All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Atlanta, GA.

In the meantime, worship with us at Inbound Church <–Click!