As a musician, one thing that is garunteed to rear its ugly head is stage fright. The racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, and nervous anxiety are enough to make any performer sick to their stomach. However, stage fright, while annoying, may be the key to an exciting, engaging performance

Stage Fright: Friend or Foe?

As a musician, one thing that is guaranteed to rear its ugly head is stage fright. The racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, and nervous anxiety are enough to make any performer sick to their stomach. However, stage fright, while annoying, may be the key to an exciting, engaging performance.

Anxiety is defined as a “negative emotional state with feelings of nervousness, worry and apprehension associated with activation of the body” and its effects are threefold: physical, mental and emotional. Anxiety occurs when your brain tries to calculate the ratio of success to absolute failure. If your brain calculates a higher success rate, you are likely to feel more at ease. However, if your brain calculates a higher chance for failure, that’s when those pesky stage fright symptoms kick in.

If you find yourself suffering from stage fright, you’re in good company! 96% of orchestra musicians admit to feeling stage fright as well as Pablo Casals, Arthur Rubenstein and Luciano Pavrotti. While feeling anxious during a performance is not a pleasant experience, those anxious feelings can at times be beneficial to your performance. The adrenaline boost that comes with feelings of anxiety are what add life and sizzle to your performance. If you’ve ever had a performance where everything was “in the zone” you’ve successfully performed with¬†some anxiety. The key to a successful performance is mastering those anxious feelings and turning them into the boost you need to have a lively, exiciting, and engaging performance.

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