Getting to the double bar: tips for nervous musicians

As a string player in a program with frequent performances, I get very anxious around a concert, and especially anxious during the concert. I had a gig very recently where people I know and want to impress were in attendance.

With shaking hands, I managed to get through my performance, but I wasn’t proud of it.

Here are some tips to help you not only get through the pieces, but perform proudly, whether you are a band geek, an orchestra dork, or a student giving a speech.

  • Get excited! Confidence is a simple solution to combat stress. Dress confidently and smile like you are excited to be there. No one will know you’re nervous.
  • Meditate! Before a performance, take a couple minutes to yourself to remind yourself what you have to do. Imagine yourself doing well, and chant positive phrases in your head like “I can do this,” or “I will do well.”
  •  Be prepared! Make sure you know your music or exactly what you want to say. Run through it in your head as you are walking onto the stage or taking your first bow. Try performing in front of other people in the days leading up to the event.
  • Listen to music! It can be the piece that you are about to play, or music that just psyches you up. For me, “This is War” by 30 Seconds to Mars always got me excited before cross country meets, and even gets me excited for school as I ride the bus.
  • Take care of yourself! Eat well, get plenty of sleep (at least eight hours is sufficient), and spend time doing things that aren’t practicing. Get dinner at your favorite restaurant, or go shopping for clothes.
  • Study the experts! Learn from books written by professionals in your art and try the methods they suggest to bash shaking nerves. Remember that even they have made mistakes during a performance, and like me, they have performances that they prefer not to remember.