Even with the best preparation, many people still experience performance anxiety, so it’s useful to know something about the nature of this and how you can best deal with it.
People experience performance anxiety in varying degrees, some don’t feel it at all, while others, when asked to perform, may have a response similar to being asked to jump off a cliff! Of course, we know we won’t die from performing but our bodies can still react as if we are going to. This is linked to an inbuilt and ancient human survival mechanism known as the ‘fight or flight reaction’. When we are faced with a threatening situation, such as a wild animal or dangerous person, the body releases a chemical called adrenalin which gives us extra strength so we can run faster or fight harder than usual. In threatening situations, this reaction is very useful to us but in a performance situation we are not running or fighting, so the release of adrenalin doesn’t really help. In fact, it can hinder us, causing our bodies to shake, sweat, feel nauseous and/or hyperventilate.
Anxiety can be brought on by lack of preparation, negative internal judgement of yourself and your ability, assigning too much importance to the task and/or assuming to know what others think or feel about you and your performance.
Because of anxiety, the very mention of performing in front of others is one of the scariest notions imaginable for some people. So, it is important to approach this activity gently, with preparation and support in order to create a more positive experience. You may come to music without the desire to perform at all and that’s fine, however, with time, you will likely feel your music needs to build somehow, or that you feel a bit lost or without direction. This is when you need to think about either preparing for a performance or joining a group of singers or instrumentalists or participating in jam sessions or approaching wedding bands in Melbourne. It is better not to participate in anything which makes you feel too uncomfortable but do take some risks and challenge yourself. You will be rewarded.
Nerada came to singing lessons because she wished to gain confidence as well as learn to sing. This was her secret dream. She found her first lessons extremely frightening and confronting but she had decided to put herself in an uncomfortable situation and try anyway. She managed to sing in front of the teacher and left the lesson feeling very happy because she had accomplished something she’d wanted to do for a long time but never imagined she could. Nerada took a risk and it paid off.
As time went on, Nerada became comfortable singing in her lessons because she became used to the environment and situation. Then her teacher suggested she come and join the weekly singing group. Again, this suggestion brought up much fear and procrastination for Nerada, so the teacher told her she could come and just watch and see if she felt comfortable. She didn’t have to join in or sing in front of others if she didn’t want to. Nerada agreed, and when she came to the group she ended up joining in because she saw that it was not as scary as she thought it would be and everyone was having fun just singing and being themselves. Nerada also saw that the other singers had similar feelings and experiences to her, which they shared through jokes and discussion.
After a few sessions, the teacher gave each group member a line of a song to sing solo. Nerada managed to do this and now had the experience of singing in front of others. The experience wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be. In fact, she even enjoyed it! After a while, singing solo in the group was not such a big deal and, because of this, Nerada and her teacher were able to work towards her singing a song at the next public performance of the teacher’s pupils.