Focus and Performance Anxiety; Strategies That Help

May 31, 2010

Musicians of any level from beginner to seasoned pro will continuously face the challenge of dealing with performance anxiety at some point or another. Unfortunately, this usually results in musicians saying something on their instrument that they didn’t mean to say. Many artists have discussed the issue of performance anxiety in various depths, we will just brush the surface, however, some links to external resources have been included for those who wish to explore this further.

Living In The Moment:

Seems simple but surprisingly difficult to attain. When we perform the bars and beats go by quickly, did you mess something up? Who cares!? The ability to live in the moment means focusing on the now, not the past. If you keep on thinking of past mistakes you’re sure to make more. Just relax and enjoy the show (More than likely no one noticed that one bum note anyways, we’ll just call it creative initiative).

Anxiety – Doubt = Excitement:

It’s really that simple, the only difference between anxiety and excitement is doubt. Inside they both feel the same, just flip that switch in your head, be confident and know you can do the job. Excitement is sure to follow, which is far less distracting than Anxiety.

State Of Mind:

Bassist and Arranger John Clayton once mentioned that there is no such thing as the “practice room”, just the “performance room”. From now on don’t call it practicing or woodshedding, whenever you pick up your instrument you’re performing. Whether it’s to an empty practice room or a full stadium, try and always keep your mind in a state as if you were actually performing. Get used to that feeling mentally so that it doesn’t pose as much of a mental block when you’re on stage.


One can always chalk it up to this. Sometimes the only way you can get over your nerves is by dealing with them over and over again. The more you perform the more confident and experienced you will be allowing you to better cope with your anxiety. Just get out there and perform. Hopefully these tips are a good starting point.

If you would like to delve into this topic further feel free to check out a great book by pianist Kenny Werner entitled “Effortless Mastery” at http://kennywernerlive.com/. Also check out two of our clinics this year that will touch on this subject on Saturday, July 17th with Dominic Mancuso and Sunday, July 18th with the Simon Fisk Trio Featuring Jerry Granelli & Christian Koegel Link.

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