The following article was contributed by Ryan Rivera, who has had five years of experience helping people with anxiety and related issues. These tips should prove to be valuable for people preparing for auditions and performances. Enjoy!
How to Reduce Anxiety Before a Concert
by Ryan Rivera
Playing an instrument on stage is a lot like public speaking. You’re using your instrument as a method of communicating and as you play, all eyes are on you and your performance. Even the best bass players with years of experience feel a little nervous before a big event, knowing that they need to perform at their best.
But when your anxiety is actually affecting your ability to play – when the anxiety is so strong that you experience physical and mental stress – it can be a serious problem. Playing every note correctly requires confidence, and the ability to trust in your fingers and your experience.
Reducing Anxiety Before a Concert
Whether you’re on stage with an entire orchestra or playing by with a few of your college buddies at your first gig, you need to find a way to reduce that anxiety. The stronger it is the harder the process, which is why you will need to not only try to reduce your anxiety before you go on stage, but also work on reducing your anxiety afterward.
Long Before You Go On Stage
Playing the bass is not just about rhythm and skill. It’s also about the connection between your mind and your body. Your fingers start to create their own memories on the chords and know the next note long before you can think of it. The more you practice, the less pressure you’ll put on your mind and the more you can trust that you know exactly what’s coming next.
Cut Out Unhealthy Behaviors
Anxiety is cumulative, so before you go on stage you need to make sure you’re avoiding any behaviors that will add to your anxiety. Get a full night’s sleep, eat healthier food, avoid drinking – you should even avoid watching horror films or going on amusement park rides. If it increases your anxiety naturally, it has the potential to increase your anxiety on stage.
Deep breathing is one of many different types of relaxation strategies that can help you keep calm. You sit on a chair or lie on your back, keeping your body relaxed. You then breathe in very slowly through your nose, starting at your stomach and then filling up your chest. Hold, then release slowly out your mouth. Repeat this 10 to 20 times and it should be able to calm you down when you feel your anxiety building.
On the Day of the Concert
Before you set foot on stage, make sure everything you need is ready. Concerns over whether you have everything you need can be distracting, and make contribute to additional levels of anxiety. By ensuring that you’re completely prepared, you can rest your mind and focus on additional relaxation strategies while calming your mind and body. If you have your own method of relaxing – like skipping stones at a park or jogging – don’t forget to do them. Any method of keeping your mind and body calm is a useful one.
After the Concert
Reducing your stage fright is not just about preparing before an event. It’s also about performing the right behaviors after the event is over. After you’re done, even if you believe you did a terrible job, always remember to do the following:
Write Down Positives
Write down all of the things you did well. Try to come up with as long a list as possible, and avoid anything negative. You need your mind to remember all of the things that went right on stage, not dwell on all the mistakes you may or may not have made. Writing it down helps you do that, because it forces you to focus on the positives.
Once again, now would be a good time to perform relaxation exercises. A lot of bass players like to dwell on the adrenaline as a way of congratulating themselves on a job well done. But when you’re living with too much anxiety before a concert, you need to find a way to stop associating the concert with anxiety, which means relaxing after you’re done playing as well. You can try deep breathing, or any number of relaxation strategies that are effective.
Work on Your Own Anxiety
Finally, always remember to work on your own anxiety and depression issues. Anxiety builds on itself, so the calmer you are regularly, the less debilitating the anxiety you experience before a concert will be.
Maintaining Your Love of the Music
For many people, anxiety doesn’t stop them from playing well on stage. But it does take away the joy they experience bringing that music to others and that alone is tragic – both as a potential loss to you and as a loss to those that would love to listen to you. Learn to manage your anxiety so that you can continue to enjoy bringing music to everyone and live more comfortably every day.
About the Author: Ryan Rivera had a considerable amount of stage fright before big events, but worked on his anxiety with tips he shares at www.calmclinic.com.
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