Dealing With Performance Anxiety: Part One

performance anxiety

No matter what you call it—whether it’s performance anxiety, stage fright, pre-show nerves, or the jitters—getting anxious before a performance is extremely normal among musicians and other performers. The symptoms we experience range from the mildly annoying to the disabling, and it can turn what should be a delightful show into a painful slog.

With our Student Showcase coming up this December 11th at 7:30pm at Busboys and Poets, it’s the perfect time to share a few strategies that will help you overcome performance anxiety and focus on the joy of music! When you’ve confirmed your performance piece with your teacher, RSVP here. Slots are available for the first 21 students to RSVP!

Be Mindful

Mindfulness is a skill often talked about in the world of performance arts. We talked about it in an article here! This is the practice of being fully aware of your present self—what you’re currently physically, emotionally and mentally feeling. Understanding your nerves is the key to defeating them.

When you get nervous before a show, remember that there are many things happening in your body: the physical reactions, such as “butterflies” in the stomach, a quicker heart rate, dry mouth, or other responses; the mental reaction, where you experience an amplified inner critic, racing thoughts, and other distractions; and then there’s the emotional reaction, where you feel afraid or panicked, wishing you could be elsewhere.

While there’s not magic potion that can zap away all nerves, it’s good to remember that handling performance anxiety is a learned skill, much like music. And just like music, you need to consistently practice to get to the level where you want to be.


Simple? Clichéd? Yes to both points, but there’s a reason why this is oft repeated advice. Learning to breathe in the right manner can definitely reduce tension and deflate your nerves. Singers know it as diaphragmatic breathing or breathing from the stomach, instead of the chest. Slow down your deep breathing and you’ll soon notice that your nerves will slow down as well!

Set Attainable Goals

There will never be a perfect performance – and this is great news! This means you can set realistic expectations and instead focus on having an optimal performance instead.

Relax Before The Show

Trying to get a lot of things done at the last minute can negatively affect performance. Instead, get as much sleep as you can, eat right, and prepare thoroughly a day or so beforehand. Cramming on the night before the show will just lead to worse nerves!