Are your performances ruined by anxiety? Yep, stage fright does ruin the life of many musicians. Seems like he’s a successful bastard, and if you want to fight him, you’ve got to be armed well. Not with booze or other kind of drugs though. Those are for n00bies. We agreed upon you not turning into one of those, remember? So if you get sweaty, breathing fast, your mouth dries out and you start trembling like crazy, it’s probably not because you’re having an orgasm. More like you’re stressed about having to perform. Especially in front of people. You just want to quit this whole shit, go home and be alone. Because of thoughts like “what are they gonna say if I fuck up a note here and there”. That’s anxiety right there. And you can be sure it’s gonna affect your on stage performance. So if you get that often and it hinders some truly powerful music to come out, worry not. Pun? Nope. There’s a cure.
Is there really a cure for stage fright?
Visualization. BOOM. You didn’t expect that one, right? It works for athletes, too, okay? And they do get anxious from time to time as well. Especially before and during great events. Ones where they are expected to perform the best. Have you heard the story of jazz bassist Steve Rodby? He was sooo bored with orchestra playing (I can kinda see why), that he started playing to an imaginary microphone. One that was recording his performances. Then an imaginary guy questioned him about all those wrong notes. If they happened. Don’t giggle. Little did he know about the meaning of visualization back then. Other than the fact that he utilized it perfectly. He got used to performing and never had problems with it later on.
Meditate to kill the fear
So how should you approach visualization to eliminate the anxiety ridden performances? Combine it with meditation. Ommm… well, not quite that kind. You know the drill: sit quietly, close your eyes, relax your muscles. All of ’em. Focus on your breathing. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring your focus back to your breathing. And now to the musical performance specific part. Start imagining that you’re actually playing during meditation. When the playing mistakes occur, or you start imagining the uneasy parts & symptoms, gently direct your attention back to your breathing. Whenever the negative thoughts and visions appear, try to replace each one of them with a positive one. Every clam with a perfectly executed riff. Every frowning member in the audience with a smiling one. Including your teachers, parents, famous rapists, your mother-in-law, etc. Whoever you’re the most afraid of.
Outside vs. inside view
You’re one step closer to kill these uneasy feelings. What now? You’re probably comfortable with one kind of view during visualization. Like the “TV style” – viewing yourself from the outside. Or the “FPS style”, when you see things happening through your own eyes. Well, whichever you prefer, make sure that you try the other one as well. Switch them around. That will do wonders. Have fun.