Antidotes for Performance Anxiety
by Miranda George
Originally published on the SmartMusicBlog
March 19, 2018
Introduction by Lyn Spiteri, November 2019:
So much of what we try to do as music educators is to empower our students to follow a musical pathway. Performance outcomes are an important element of learning and honing your craft as a young musician, but nerves can get the better of you. These tips provide an excellent source for instrumental music teachers whose students are too afraid to demonstrate their growing skills in a performance setting.
In a recent TMEA convention, I asked: “How many of you have ever felt nervous while performing?” You can see the reaction above. So I asked,“Nobody?”
That got a laugh.
I find laughter and a sense of common humanity to be very helpful in approaching this uncomfortable topic. The focus of that clinic was to help music teachers cultivate confidence in their students. Teachers and conductors have a unique challenge when it comes to performance anxiety in the ensemble. Musicians are diverse in privilege (race, class, gender, ability), familial upbringing, and stories of struggle. With this diversity comes a wide range of confidence levels, from those who have a strong sense worthiness to those who don’t. Many teachers work to cultivate confidence through pedagogy and preparation, building connection and trust between students through fun social activities, and by keeping rehearsals focused, enjoyable, and rewarding. What should a teacher do when students still struggle with performance anxiety?
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