Saturday, February 21, 2009

Performance Anxiety

As contest season approaches, how do your students prepare for the nervousness they will feel when it is their turn to perform?

This spring, many music students will perform solos and/or ensembles for judges in private auditions in order to receive critiques and ratings. The music teacher organizations that sponsor these events have been around for decades and are sincere in their desire to promote musicianship. Yet, for some students, playing a solo before a judge induces a level of anxiety they are not prepared for. Learning to alleviate this stress can leave a student with coping skills that will continue to help them throughout their lives. Follow these steps:

1. Encourage your students to prepare their pieces well. The well-prepared student can be confident in his or her ability to play. Lack of preparation will almost certainly create a greater sense of fear.

2. Talk to your students about performance anxiety. Remind them that being nervous about a performance is a good thing because it means that they care enough to do their best. Most people perform better when they are a little nervous.

3. Teach your students a technique for calming nerves. Taking slow, deep breaths will help them to relax. Help them develop positive, affirming statements to focus on, rather than dwelling on self-defeating thoughts.

4. Whatever the outcome, use it as a tool for improvement. Each time a student performs, he or she becomes conditioned toward reducing their level of anxiety. Each critique can be a useful learning experience, regardless of the rating.

For more information about solo/ensemble festivals, contact one of the following organizations:
American College of Musicians
National Federation of Music Clubs
Royal Conservatory of Music
Music Teachers National Association
National Association for Music Education

MJ Sheet Music has selections for NFMC Jr. Festival and Royal Conservatory of Music Exams.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, these tips are indeed credible and effective. Learning how to deal with anxiety is important for all performers. Thanks for sharing this great resource for music teachers.

March 26, 2009 at 7:06 AM  

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