Musician performance anxiety (MPA) is the anxiety and panic caused by the negative thought of performing.
Some common symptoms include racing pulse, rapid breathing, dry mouth, to trembling voice, hands, knees, lips to nausea or even vision change.
While you may assume performance anxiety is relatively rare, it’s actually one of the most commonly reported symptoms among all social fears. The German University of Paderborn found that nearly ⅓ of all orchestra musicians suffer from stage fright, or musician performance anxiety (MPA) and 13% of them said their symptoms are severe, yet they seldom mention it because it might hurt their opportunities.
There are several things you can do to prevent your nerves from progressing out of control.
Be mindful of your routine before stressful performances
- Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Stay hydrated.
- Sleep on schedule
Learn to accept your nervousness
- Figure out your anxiety symptoms
- Channel it into your performance
- Start to practice performing with that extra energy
- Feeling prepared always boosts confidence
- Do a mock dress rehearsal with family and friends
- Learn breathing techniques to calm your nerves.
Try VR treatment
- VR treatment imitates realistic 360-degree visual immersion into a given performance situation
- The virtual performance will help desensitize the psycho-physiological activation that produces symptoms of anxiety
- Avoid self-doubt
- Think your audience as your friends
- Shift your fear to enjoyment by imaging cheering audience
The take-away message is that MPA is manageable—with or without beta-blockers—but it’s important to acknowledge it and cope with it. Your stage fright shouldn’t stop you from doing what you love, and these tips can help you overcome your nerves to continue performing.