PERFORMANCE ANXIETY AND ITS MANIFESTATIONS

    There is no man in the world who has never had self-doubts, and has not been in panic or frightened in a critical situation.

         We all react differently in certain situations and have different level of fear of the same situations. Forming of our response is influenced by various factors of life.

Stage Fright trembling, sweating hands, nervous…

    Anxiety connected with the fear of public performance is well known to musicians. One’s performance anxiety is utterly paralyzing and someone else’s – inspiring.

         Trembling, dry mouth, sweating hands, instant forgetfulness, nervousness, inner struggle and self-examination: Do I know it? Will I succeed? Will I disgrace myself? What if I make a mistake? – are just a few of the side effects of performance anxiety and questions of regular issues imposed in such alarming situations.

       The scientific definition of performance anxiety reads as follows: Performance anxiety (stage fright) is the fear of failure.

Taken from my book
I Am Studying Clarinet III


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HOW TO OVERCOME THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF PERFOMANCE ANXIETY (STAGE FRIGHT)?

  The basic condition for this is to master and learn the piece thoroughly. It is useful to have an honest dialogue with yourself. Ask yourself questions as often as possible about all this and answer to them and clarify them. For example, ask yourself:

    Why do I suffer from performance anxiety? What are the things I am afraid of at the moment of performing and why do I fear?

       What makes me feel so bad? What can happen to me if I make a mistake? If you analyze all this, you will probably realize how unrealistic performance anxiety is. It is just a product of your imagination and this cognition will mean a lot to you.


     The main thing you have to understand is that you cannot and should not fight performance anxiety. You cannot determine yourself to stop it or to get rid of it. These are illusions. First and foremost is that you must acknowledge and accept the following: Yes, I have performance anxiety, but that does not mean that I can not play!

   When you find yourself in a panic situation you must learn to laugh at yourself. It overcomes performance anxiety. You must learn how to live with it and get along with this problem. Ask yourself a logical question: If everyone has it, isn’t it something normal?

         Sometimes you should let this frightening assumption happen to you. What do you think will occur in most cases? Usually nothing, because it is all in your mind and your fear.

Taken from my book
I Am Studying Clarinet III


ANALYSIS OF PUBLIC PERFORMANCE

  This is a very important moment in the development of a musician.

     After each performance an overall analysis should be done with the clarinet teacher. Then you should discuss everything: your access to the stage, your playing, the speed of playing, tone, interpretation, acting on the stage, bowing, your appearance and leaving the stage.

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The teacher and the student analyzing the previous public performance.

     It is good to hear the opinions of other listeners and viewers. Never take all the critics as the argument for the disappointment, but as an indicator to what you should pay more attention to when performing in the future.

      You have to comprehend the truth of the saying: A man learns from mistakes.

Taken from my book
I Am Studying Clarinet III


HOW TO ACT ON STAGE

  you should act appropriately at every performance. On the stage, you are musicians and actors at the same time, and you cannot disregard the audience. You play to the audience, it watches you, listens to you and analyzes you. It gives an opinion how you play, how you look like and what messages you send to it. You are on the stage to tell something to the audience. You speak to it by your movement, posture and glance. It observes and comments every grimace that you make and receives every music message that you send.

    When you are announced, take firm and steady steps to the stage, no matter how you feel. Remember, the audience respects smart and brave performers.

    Bow slightly with a gentle smile. Bowing is a sign of gratitude to the audience. When the applause dies down, quietly move on to tuning the clarinet. And when you have done that calm down a little, relax and focus your attention on the beginning of the piece that you should play. Remind yourself for a moment of important tips and tempo. After that, turn to the accompanist and discretely nod your head to show that you are ready and start playing.

Note: While playing, never turn your back to the audience!

Public performance is done in six stages: 1. Coming to the stage   2. Bowing
3. Tuning   4. Performing a piece   5. Bowing again and   6. Leaving the stage.


     While playing, be fully concentrated on the piece. Give the audience your best music. Feel that every tone and phrase you play spreads throughout the hall. Let your music fill every corner of it. The audience will feel it and respect it. It reward you.

    Do not rush to reach the end and to “escape” from the stage. The audience may unconciously interpret it in a wrong way: ”This is a person without self-conficence. We do not like him.”

     If you happen to blunder and fail or make an error, you must not stop, but calmly and without any grimace continue to play the composition. Simply “move” through the error as if nothing has happened and continue to play. Otherwise, it will seem as if you have told the audience: “See how I am making errors.”

     When students have performance anxiety they are not aware of their foot-tapping and do not even realize that these taps are louder than the clarinet tones.

    When you are on the stage, do not look for someone in the hall, for example, your brother, mother, and so on. If you have a break, and the piano is playing, listen to its interpretation, because it is complementary to what you play. During this time you should follow the piano with your ear and soul. Otherwise, it will seem as if you have told the audience: “Do not listen to this, this is not important, only my playing music is important.”

    Remember: there are no unimportant performances, and the more you perform, the more self-confidence you gain.


Taken from my book 
I Am Studying Clarinet III


DRESSING-UP FOR A PERFORMANCE

  Live perfomaces are not an everyday occurrence. They are the result of your great work and dedication. They present a ceremony for you and you should be dressed-up appropriately for the ceremony.

   Every genre of music requires a certain way of dressing-up. You play serious-classical music so you have to dress-up appropriately.

     If you think about it, you will agree that Mozart and sneakers do not really go together! This music has always meant white (ceremonial) shirt with dark trousers or skirt, or a waistcoat and a bow tie or tie. Shoes should also be dark.

     This type of dressing-up for the public performance shows your respect for the events which you have participated in and for the audience. As the music is a part of culture, this kind of dressing-up can be called the cultural dressing-up.

Taken from my book
I Am Studying Clarinet III