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May 10, 2024

8 Strategies to Help Manage Anxiety Before a Performance

8 Strategies to Help Manage Anxiety Before a Performance

Being anxious before a performance is a common challenge for musicians of all ages, especially young learners. When a student is just starting out in music lessons or learning an instrument, they haven’t had the chance to build up their confidence yet, so performing can be scary.

As a parent, you can play a crucial role in helping your child navigate and overcome these jitters. Here are eight effective strategies and tips for parents to support their children if they experience anxiety about performing on stage for an audience.

  1. Understand the Anxiety

You can begin by acknowledging that experiencing anxiety before a performance is normal. Many great musicians started out having stage fright.

Try having open conversations with your child about their feelings, emphasizing that it’s okay to feel nervous and that many successful musicians experience similar emotions.

Actionable Steps:

  • Engage in regular discussions about feelings and experiences related to music and performance.
  • Watch performances together, pointing out that many musicians also deal with nerves.
  • Learn about anxiety for yourself and your child. Understanding it will help you provide strategies to manage anxiety and boost confidence.
  1. Preparation is Key

Ensure your child is well-prepared for their performance. Adequate practice, becoming familiar with their piece or set list, and knowing the venue can significantly reduce anxiety levels.

Actionable Steps:

  • Establish a consistent practice schedule that allows your child to feel confident in their skills.
  • Help your child set realistic, achievable goals for each practice session.

Attend all rehearsals or private lessons leading up to the performance to get as much practice as possible.

  1. Simulate Performance Conditions

Sometimes pretending you’re there can help make the big day not be so intimidating. Create performance scenarios at home or in a familiar setting. This might involve practicing in front of family and friends to help your child get used to performing in public.

Actionable Steps:

  • Arrange for your child to perform in front of small, supportive groups before the actual show.
  • Create a ‘mock stage’ at home, complete with an audience, to help them get used to the feeling of performing.
  • Practice everything, down to how they’ll walk out on the stage to the actual outfits they wear. Even small wardrobe malfunctions can alter the mood so going through a trial run can help predict any issue that may happen on show day.
  1. Focus on the Process, Not Just the Outcome

Encourage your child to focus on the joy of playing and the experience of sharing music, rather than just the final performance. This mindset shift can alleviate the pressure to be perfect.

Actionable Steps:

  • Celebrate small victories and improvements, not just successful performances.
  • Encourage your child to reflect on and enjoy the learning process. Being in a band as a kid is a fun, unforgettable experience.
  • Teach them that mistakes are part of learning to play and will only help them become better musicians.
  1. Breathing and Relaxation Techniques

Teach your child simple breathing and relaxation exercises to calm their nerves before and during performances. Techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, or progressive muscle relaxation can be very effective.

Actionable Steps:

  • Practice deep breathing exercises together daily, not just before performances.
  • Explore different relaxation techniques, like yoga or meditation, to find what works best for your child.
  • Incorporate these techniques into your child’s pre-performance routine.
  1. Positive Reinforcement

Offer positive feedback and encouragement. Recognize the effort your child is putting into their music education, regardless of the performance outcome.

Actionable Steps:

  • Use positive language that focuses on effort and improvement rather than just success and failure.
  • Share your own experiences with overcoming challenges to inspire them.
  • Provide constructive feedback that motivates rather than criticizes.
  1. Build a Supportive Community

Encourage your child to connect with other students and their bandmates at Bach to Rock. A supportive community can provide empathy and share strategies for overcoming common challenges.

Actionable Steps:

  • Encourage participation in special events, ensembles, and bands to foster a sense of community.
  • Talk with other parents and support your child’s performance events.
  • Use social media or online platforms to share your experiences and get support for your child’s music performances.
  1. Encourage Persistence

Remind your child that overcoming anxiety about performing on stage is a journey. With time and practice, they will become more comfortable and will build confidence in their abilities.

Actionable Steps:

  • Share stories of musicians who overcame anxiety when playing their instrument to show it happens to many people.
  • Set long-term goals with your child to motivate and give them a sense of direction.
  • Reinforce the idea that progress and confidence in performance will come with time and experience.

By implementing these strategies, you can help your child navigate the challenges of having anxiety before a performance and help them enjoy every aspect of their musical journey.

Getting up on stage can be frightening for first-time musicians, but once they get the hang of it, they’ll only become more confident on stage each time they perform!