Insecurity, everyone experiences it at some point in their life. Musicians are no exception to the rule. In fact, you could argue that the feeling is often heightened due to performance anxiety and a desire to be well received for your musical skills. We all know the feeling. We step out in front of a crowd, our instruments or voices are ready to go, but somewhere, deep down in the pits of our stomachs our muscles tighten, we may begin to sweat, or our fingers may tremble, and our senses get overloaded as we become keenly aware of the faces staring back at us.
It’s a scene that feels straight out of an angsty teenage movie, but to many performers its part of daily life. As horrible as it sounds, it’s something that musicians continue to do time and time again, but why? It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason why a person would continually put themselves into uncomfortable positions, since every person is different. Some may do it for the thrill of it while others could simply be in it for the music. Regardless of the reason its an exercise in will and there are ways to mitigate the effects at each performance.
Mind Over MatterThe mind is a powerful thing. The famous Shaolin monks are known worldwide for their mastery of mind over matter through meditation and martial arts. While comparing music performance to Kung Fu may be an extreme comparison, the principle can still apply. By shifting your focus and mindset, musicians can quiet the voices of anxiety and turn their attention to the music they need to play. Meditation can help a musician prepare for a gig and visualization can serve as an active anchor to help them focus on their goals throughout the performance.
Be PreparedPreparation is key to all of life’s endeavors. For a musician preparation means refining your skill and knowing your set. Practice means perfect and the more you do it, the better you get, and the more confident you feel. But knowing your craft is only part of the equation. Knowing and preparing your set will also boost your confidence and free up mental space that once saved feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for more valuable and useful things like having an amazing performance.
Stay PositiveDoes anyone remember The Secrete, the self help book that brought the Law of Attraction to a worldwide audience? While we’re not here to preach new age ideology, the message can be applicable to our daily lives and also our musical careers. Like we mentioned earlier, the mind is a powerful thing, and with the mind positive thinking can do wonders to our mental state and thus our performance. By practicing positive thinking, we are training our brains to maintain an optimistic attitude which leaves little room for doubt and anxiety. Some people say positive affirmations, using them as personal mantras throughout the day to remind them to stay positive. What would your personal mantra be? Try repeating these phrases throughout the day and see if they help change your outlook.
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