Have You Ever Heard Of Musical Performance Anxiety? Here’s How To Get Over It


All musicians have experienced that moment before a performance or audition where they can’t breathe, have butterflies in their stomach, feeling light headed or weak, dry-mouth, negative self talk. These physical symptoms are all as a result of doubt before performances. Another name for this is Musical Performance Anxiety.


How does one get over Musical Performance Anxiety?  Is it a good thing? in the sense that it keeps you at alert?

According to Wendy Nixon Stothert a Vancouver musician and choir director, there is a something called the Yerkes-Dobson rule. It is a bell curve: if there is too little anxiety, the performance will fall flat. If there is too much anxiety, the performance will feel frenetic. But if you get it just right—like Goldilocks and the three bears—then the performance can be magical. It has that right amount of sizzle to it.


So how can a musician get over excessive anxiety before an audition or performance? Below are a few things you can do to get over those moments.

  1. Believe in Yourself: Identifying negative self-talks and replacing them with positive self-talks is a very good step to take. An example is changing the taught “I am not good enough” to “I am a perfect fit for this”
  2. Always Be Prepared: One of the best ways to boost your confidence before a performance or audition is to know your piece very well. Practicing in small amounts over a period of time is more effective than cramming the night before.
  3. Be Physically Prepared: A musician has to be physically prepared before a performance or audition. Musicians should try to have a stress free day leading towards their performance. Take a nap, meditate, eat well and most importantly stay hydrated.
  4. Have Good Warm-ups: A good warm-up is also not a bad idea. This include; a vocal warm-up, and/or a gentle massage to ease muscle tension.
  5. Focus: Learn how to quiet the mind, meditate, focus past distractions and finally enjoy the moment.

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