Play at your Best! Managing Performance Anxiety

Play at your Best! Managing Performance Anxiety

Alexis Garcia, Reporter

The Performing Arts Center held an in person and virtual hybrid presentation on March 26 hosted by Dr. Scott Pool, a professor of music at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, for performers on managing performance anxiety and how to mentally prepare for a performance.

The presentation featured guest presenters Nanci Belmont and Rachael Elliot from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. The presentation was divided into three sections including managing performance anxiety, managing your mindset and mindful practices and preparation. They went into detail about why a performer’s body may react negatively before a performance and how to overcome it. During this presentation they allowed the audience, who were all performers, to talk about their own struggles and ways to manage it.

Dr. Scott Pool talked about why the presentation would be helpful to performers. “One of the great hurdles musicians face is stage fright and how to properly prepare for a live performance,” Pool said, “The University education is a test lab for creating performance experiences to prepare our students for the professional stage. Our guests will discuss ways performers can mentally prepare for a successful performance.”

In the first section of the presentation, Belmont and Elliot discussed how your body will treat your performance anxiety as a fight or flight response, which is why you often feel so nervous and sick before a performance. To help manage the anxiety, Belmont and Elliot recommended one must keep healthy expectations for your performance. The more you feed into the negative thoughts as you perform the more likely you will mess up.

They also recommended to keep your body in motion before a performance. Stretching and yoga is a good way to focus on relieving any stress on your body and it helps redirect your thoughts away from your performance anxiety. Staying hydrated is also important, as you’ll feel more refreshed and energized since anxiety will make your mind and body feel tired.

Managing your mindset involves redirecting those negative thoughts about yourself and your performance into something positive. As you begin to feel nervous, your emotions begin to manifest these negative thoughts such as, “Do I like the part?” or “Don’t mess up,” which will only make you feel worse. The best way to manage this is by creating your own positive affirmations such as, “I believe in myself” and “I am confident.”

Preparation for the performance also plays a big role in performance anxiety as practicing inconsistently will cause inconsistent results. Set consistent practice times, keep a log of your progress and set goals. Practicing small sections at a time may be more helpful than trying to perfect everything at once and don’t forget to pace yourself.

After the presentation Hayley Rambo, a cello player at TAMU-CC, talked about how the presentation may help her with performance anxiety. “Some of it I kinda heard before, but there are some good reminders of things that I could do.”