Get Rid of Performance Anxiety

If you are a musician or any other type of performer, odds are you have had some performance anxiety or nerves. This is totally common, and even the greatest performers sometimes get nervous.

Killer Harmony | Get Rid of Performance Anxiety | Performance anxiety is totally normal, but you can do a few things to get rid of it. So, I am sharing seven tips to get rid of performance anxiety.

I have had my fair share of stage fright, anxiety, nerves, whatever you want to call it. But over time, I have managed to overcome those feelings and to turn that nervous energy into positive energy.

It takes practice to get rid of performance anxiety, but you can do it. So, here are some of my tips for getting rid of nerves and giving your best performance.

1. Practice ahead of time.

This sounds obvious, but it needs to be said. The more prepared you are for a performance, the less you have to worry about it the day of. Leading up to a performance, you want to make sure you give yourself enough preparation time.

Give yourself at least a month, or longer depending on the nature of the performance. You need enough time to really learn and study what you will be performing. No “winging it” as they say.

Now, I do believe there is a limit to practicing. I have found that if I practice a piece too much or too often, I peak before the performance. You don’t want that. You want to peak during the concert or show.

2. Break it down.

If you will be performing an entire sonata, for example, you want to break it down into more manageable parts. First break it up into the different movements. Next, look for the big sections of the movement. Then, find the phrases and even look at the separate bars.

By breaking something down, you can focus on individual parts of the work. There will be easier sections, and there will be harder sections. When you see each section and can isolate them all, you can quickly see which sections need the most attention.

I will admit that I don’t always do this, but it is super helpful when I do. I can focus in learning a small phrase or two instead of an entire movement. One or two phrases sounds a lot less intimidating than a whole movement, right?

3. Memorize the difficult bars.

If there are a few difficult bars in your music, you should try to memorize them. Even if you are playing with music, it is important to have everything under your fingers. Memorization will help build muscle memory, and you won’t have to worry as much about those sections.

There will be at least one or two of “those bars” in almost every piece. Memorizing them will help with your memorization skills, and you will get to know those difficult parts really well.

But obviously, don’t just focus on those bars. You want to make sure that you learn the entire piece.

4. Recreate the stage.

While you are working on a new piece to perform, try to practice it on stage a few times. If you can play it through on the stage you will perform on, that’s great. If you can’t, then recreate that environment.

Practice while wearing the shoes you will perform in and the outfit you plan to wear. It sounds silly, but doing that will get you ready so that you know you can do it.

Normally, you won’t be practicing in fancy clothes or dress shoes. But that’s commonplace attire for performances. If you are only used to wearing sweats and tennis shoes while practicing, then of course the different clothing would make you nervous.

Recreating the performance environment to the best of your ability will help prove to yourself that you are ready to give the best performance of your life.

5. Take a break.

It may sound counterintuitive, but taking a break close to the performance is a good thing. A break will give your mind and body time to rest and be ready for the performance.

I like to take a break for about thirty minutes to an hour before the performance so that I can breathe and take in everything. I do warm up before that, but I don’t usually run through what I am performing, unless there are still some rough spots.

This is because I want to avoid overworking the piece. As I said earlier, you want to peak during the performance, not before. Giving yourself a break before going on stage is a great way to recharge your muscles and give you a boost of energy.

6. Perform a lot!

There more you perform, the easier it will get. I have been performing since I was really young, and I performed even more often when I got to college. That performance experience helped me and one of my classmates get over stage fright.

For my music degree, I had to give two solo recitals, perform on two other recitals each semester, perform for a masterclass each semester, and also perform as part of any ensembles I was in.

All that performing made any bouts of nerves just go away. Any nerves I get are quickly turned into adrenaline. I am able to coast through a performance without worrying about everything else. I can just play.

7. Understand that it’s normal.

Everyone has gone through periods of stage fright, nerves, performance anxiety. And it’s okay. It is super normal to be nervous. When I do feel nervous, I remind myself that there’s not much to be scared of.

Is the audience the big scary thing? Well, they aren’t there to see you fail. They want you to play well, and they want to hear good music. Why else would they have come to a concert?

Are you afraid of making mistakes? It happens to everyone. And odds are, no one will notice. As long as you keep your composure, you can make it seem like you meant to play that note or that rhythm.

It’s easier said than done, but don’t worry about it.

So…

Do you have any other tips for getting rid of performance anxiety? Leave a comment below, and don’t forget to sign up for the Killer Email Squad to receive music tips right in your inbox!

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Time Management for Musicians

Sometimes it seems like we have all the time in the world. Other times, we need to focus more on time management. Especially if you have a lot of work coming up, managing your time is necessary for staying on track and getting stuff done.

Killer Harmony | Time Management for Musicians |When you have a lot to do, it's hard to do it all. That's why time management is so important. Here are a few time management tips for musicians.

Just like everyone else, I have fallen pray to procrastination, but I am able to overcome it. I can get myself back on track fairly easily, and I am going to share how I do that in this post.

Time management seems daunting at first, but it is not that hard after you find what works.

Experiment.

The tips I share in this post might not work for you. So, after reading this post, look for other ways that you can manage your time. You can find tons of ideas online or even come up with your own ideas.

With any change you make, experimentation is important. You have to figure out what works best for you and your life.

Be willing to change up how you mange your time, too. What works one week may not work the next. Figure out what you want out of your day or week and then decide what you need to do to manage your time.

Get started early.

This goes for all of those night owls reading this. If you stayed up late watching videos or practicing your instrument, try and wake up a little early.

You don’t have to get up before the crack of dawn. But, the earlier you start your day, the more time you will have. You won’t have to feel rushed to get everything done.

If you cannot practice your instrument right away, try and do some other tasks. Clean your room or home. Do some laundry. Listen to upcoming repertoire. There are dozens of things you can do that don’t actually involve playing music.

Make a list.

Write down everything that you want to accomplish that day. It can be anything from going grocery shopping to memorizing a section of a piece. Making a list of all your daily tasks puts everything on paper.

You can see how much you have to do that day, and then you can prioritize  tasks. Writing everything down will help you see the bigger picture. It may be that you have less to do than you thought.

If that is the case, take your time with things, and don’t rush. Enjoy living, and enjoy what you are doing. Live in the moment.

Set your priorities.

If you have a lot of stuff to do, decide what matters most. If you have a concert next week, you should probably practice the music for it. When you don’t have any performances coming up, you can focus on other things.

Get your household chores out of the way or search for prospective students and gigs. Your priorities will probably change with each day, and that’ okay.

Setting your priorities will help you figure out what really needs to be done and what can wait a day or two. If you have time for some low priority tasks, get those in so you don’t have to do them later.

Use a planner or calendar.

If you want, you can use a planner or calendar to keep track of everything. You can use a paper calendar or a digital one, and you can customize what you use it for.

I have found that paper planners don’t work for me. I use them for a day or two, and then they end up in the bottom of my bag, untouched. So, I have switched to a digital calendar.

I use Apple’s iCal on my laptop and phone. The calendar is great for events and other deadlines. For to do lists and other tasks that are not scheduled, I use Reminders or Notes to keep track.

Figure out what works for you, and create a system to fit your lifestyle.

Create a routine.

In a lot of cases, your day to day life will be different. You won’t always have the same performance gigs, rehearsals, or private lessons. However, do your best to set a routine.

Wake up at the same time. Eat the same breakfast and/or lunch each day. Do something consistently so that when big changes occur, it won’t take such a toll on your body.

I try to wake up at the same time each weekday, but I do let myself sleep in on the weekends. My menu for breakfast and lunch is the same, unless I go out for a meal. Keeping a consistent waking and eating schedule allows me to prepare for the rest of the day.

Hand off what you can.

If you have too much to do in one day, find some help. You can ask a roommate or friend for help or hire someone. While you have to show up to rehearsals and performances, you don’t always need to do everything.

If your kitchen is in need of some organizing, see if someone you know could do it. If your website needs updating, hire a virtual assistant or content manager for the day. The money you spend on help will be worth it if it means you aren’t up for a full 24 hours.

I try to do what I can, but sometimes, I have other priorities that need my attention. When I can’t do something, there is nothing wrong with asking for help.

So…

As a musician myself, I know how hard it can be to do everything you need to do. There have been times where I had to let things slip, and I wish that I could have hired someone to do those tasks for me. If you ever need help, please contact me. I would be glad to help another musician out.

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Too Old to Learn Flute?

My last few posts were about me and my history as a musician. Today, I wanted to talk about you. The aspiring musician or new musician who wants to learn but is maybe afraid of what could be a huge barrier. That is age. But age doesn’t have to be a barrier. In fact, it can help.

Killer Harmony | Too Old to Learn Flute? Are you too old to learn flute? Here are my thoughts and how anyone can learn an instrument at any age. it just might take more work.
I was a bit older when I started playing the flute; I was 16. Most people start learning at the age of 9 or 10. Now, I did have about ten years of music experience under my belt when I began the instrument. That made things easier.

Still, I believe that it is never to late to learn a musical instrument. Here is why.

With Age Comes Focus

A lot of young children struggle to learn an instrument because they don’t have the focus necessary to improve. I was one of these kids who never wanted to practice, and I didn’t like spending time disciplining myself through practice.

As we get older, our focus usually gets better. It becomes much easier to focus on the task at hand, and it can make learning an instrument much more enjoyable. At age 16, I knew that I wanted to pursue music in some form, professionally or not, so I was much more dedicated to playing than if I had started early on.

If you are a teenager or an adult, use your ability to focus to your advantage. You won’t have to spend as much time working on the most basic of exercises. You can progress more quickly than if you don’t concentrate.

You Have More Control

When you are older, you have more independence than when you are a child. You can decide (within reason) what instrument and music you want to play. You can decide how you learn and who the best teacher is for you.

If you are able to support yourself in your musical endeavors, you have full control over what you do. That applies to professionals and amateurs. You also have more control over how sprouts pursue music. If you don’t want to learn a myriad of Bach sonatas or you would rather learn some jazz or folk music, you can,

The (musical) world is your oyster. There are opportunities out there that are not available to younger students.

The Internet is More Useful

There are many websites that can be used to help learn musical concepts. If you are struggling with theory, aural skills or performance anxiety, there is something out there for you. You can also download apps designed for musicians.

While children can use the internet, they usually need access or assistance from a parent. It almost makes more sense for children to use printed books to learn from. Especially because of online distractions.

As an older beginner, you can use online tools from the get go, thus making your musical education even more interesting.

The Benefits Don’t Stop

It is thought by many that studying music can delay the onset of different neurological diseases such as dementia. No matter when you learn an instrument, you can reap the rewards of your hard work.

Musicians’ brains also works differently than non-musicians. Our brains are more active, and playing music also improve hand eye coordination. Musicians are even sometimes called “athletes of small muscles.”

There are also benefits unrelated to your brain. Music makes people happy, and playing music is even better. It is one thing to listen to your favorite composer or artist, and it is a whole other thing to actually play one of your favorite songs or pieces.

Music Makes a Great Hobby

Thought of as either good or bad, older beginners don’t have the same stress of considering a music career as child musicians. It is possible to pursue a music career at a later age, but it takes a lot of work. It is not guaranteed.

If you start when you already know what your career will be, you don’t have to stress about being perfect. You can play music for the fun of it.

Music is a great way to relax and destress. Having a creative hobby is awesome, because you can express yourself in a way that many people can’t.

Is Anyone Too Old?

I think that anyone who really wants to learn an instrument can. Age should not be a factor in determining your ability to do something. There is probably an age where after that, music becomes harder, however it is still possible.

If you find a teacher who is willing to work with you, playing music is well within your reach. My dad just started learning guitar with no prior music experience. He only had the desire to learn a new skill.

With any new skill, it takes time to master that skill. Older brains are not as moldable as young ones. That’s okay. With age, we also become more disciplined and motivated to do what we want to do.

So…

Have you started a musical instrument later than “normal”? Let me know in the comments below about your experience!

Thanks for reading!