Stage Fright! 4 Ways to Cope with Performance Stress

Having stage fright is a common hurdle that musicians have to go through. Here are 4 ways to cope with performance stress.

1. Understand that it is common and natural

Before trying to cope with stage fright, we need to know what exactly causes it. Having stage fright is a rather primitive response – we experience it when our hypothalamus stimulates our pituitary gland, which subsequently sends signals to our adrenal gland. This adrenal gland then secretes adrenaline which causes a ‘fight or flight’ response that is designed to protect you from harm. Having performance anxiety is common and it is indeed a biological protection mechanism.

2. Practice like it’s the real thing

Practice with the actual performance in mind. Visualise yourself at the real performance and imagine a “typical” audience responding to your playing. A “typical” audience might include some people who are nodding and smiling, and some people who are fidgeting and chatting. Rehearse in your mind dealing with these audience reactions so they won’t throw you off guard when it comes to the real thing.

3. Get familiar with the venue

If you have the chance, familiarise yourself with the performance or music exam venue ahead of time. This allows you to be more comfortable and confident at the actual performance. Spend some time visualising playing at the venue, and get a feel of the humidity of the space to make any preparation or adjustments to your instruments.

4. Take Advantage of Stage Fright

Having a moderate amount of stress responses and pressure may indeed lead to a heightened state of awareness, and give you that extra pop to give a more powerful performance. Learning how to manage and channel that energy is ke