There are two things to remember that will substantially help ease your nerves:
Nerves are actually great, if you think of them from the right point of view. They show that you care about doing a great job!
You are NOT alone! Most people are nervous when they perform or audition for things they truly care about.
Knowing how nerves tend to negatively affect you personally, and ways to deal with them will help you relax.
When nerves affect us negatively, the effects are either physical or mental.
1. PHYSICAL EFFECTS
Know that there is not much you can do about the sweatiness and shaking. BUT remember that you are actually able to play better than you think while either of those are happening. Many times, your audience even can’t see sweat or shaking unless they are right in front of you. And when they can see it, remember that they understand you are nervous!
More solutions: For body stiffness, rocking, and posture – do deep breathing exercises and imagine yourself in a comfortable place around people you care about.
Breathing exercise: Breathe in 8 counts, hold for 4 counts, breathe out 16 counts, and hold for 4 counts. REPEAT. Do this for at least 5 minutes right before you have to play. This slows your heart rate and helps you physically imagine releasing more anxiety than you’re breathing in.
Q: What are some other solutions to physical nervousness that you can come up with?
2. MENTAL EFFECTS
Loss of concentration – thinking about everything except the music, only halfway thinking about the music, etc.
Hyperawareness: Overly concentrating on/over analyzing music and how you sound, sudden worrying about your physical presence
Perform/audition with the same mental mindset you use when you practice. If you zone out when you practice, you can’t switch over and be hyperaware when you perform/audition without it negatively affecting your mindset and playing. Likewise, if you are hyperaware when you practice, you can’t zone out when you perform/audition without negative consequences.
Each time you have negative thought, follow it up with a positive thought. And imagine the positive thought being said at a louder volume in your head than the negative thought. For example, (negative thought) “I can’t play this rhythm correctly because it’s hard and the notes are sooooo high!” (counter it with a positive thought at a louder volume) “But I will still try to play it. And even if it doesn’t come out correctly, I’ll play with a great tone, and I’ll keep going!”
Focus on playing with your best tone, even if EVERYTHING else falls apart. Your tone is your voice – no matter what, play with your best voice!
CALL TO ACTION: Determine how YOUR nerves tend to affect you, physically or mentally. Come up with at least two solutions not listed here that you can help you effectively work through them.