Conquering the Stage: 5 Techniques to Overcome Performance Anxiety

by Abigail Shore

Recital season is upon us, and with it comes a turbulent rollercoaster of emotions—excitement, pride, and sometimes anxiety. Stage fright plagues even the most seasoned of performers! Here at Valotta Studios, we believe full-heartedly that every student should participate in recitals because of their numerous benefits, but convincing your student of that when they get shaky hands and sweaty palms on the stage is a daunting task. 

Performance anxiety is a very real phenomenon, but there are several steps you can take to overcome it before it’s time to perform! Here are some tried-and-tested ways to beat stage fright:

1.    Practice, Practice, Practice!

Being prepared is the first step to easing fear about a performance. As teachers, we try to guide our students to select songs we know they can play successfully! As a parent, we encourage you to gently nudge your child to continue practicing their recital songs, even if they claim they’re “too easy.” If your child can play their piece in their sleep, that means muscle memory has set in—this makes it easier to perform despite nerves!

2.   Perform in front of an audience

Doing something by yourself is one thing, but if you know your child suffers from performance anxiety, try hosting a mini recital at home before the big day arrives. This gives your child a low-stress environment to practice performing in front of friends and family—an audience that is sure to be supportive no matter how many mistakes are made!

While our first two techniques focus on preventing stage fright, our next three focus on overcoming it once it’s already set in:

3.   The Tapping Method

The Tapping Method comes to us from Miss Jill. She recommends creating a positive mantra, like “Even though I’m scared of what everyone will think of my performance, I am safe and can get through this,” and repeating it while tapping lightly on the pressure points on the upper body: between the eyebrows, the Cupid’s Bow, the center of the chin, the top of the head, the collarbone, and under the arm. The act of repetition will assist your child’s brain in stopping the high-speed train of anxious thoughts.

4.   The 3-7-8 Breathing Technique

This is one of my favorite techniques to ease the physical symptoms of performance anxiety. Typically used to help people fall asleep, the 3-7-8 technique is simple: breathe in for three counts, hold the breath for seven counts, then breathe out evenly over the course of eight counts. This slows the heartbeat and calms down the body. Then, the brain is able to follow!

5.   Visualization

Everyone’s heard the tip: “Imagine the audience in their underwear!” While we do not recommend this type of visualization, we do think picturing yourself performing in a space that’s comfortable to you is a great way to cope with stage fright! If the performance venue isn’t available to rehearse in, or if your child is nervous despite it being a familiar environment, try having them visualize playing in their lesson with their teacher or with their instrument in a safe space at home. Going to a mental “happy place” can really help calm nerves.

These techniques are great for conquering performance anxiety, whether at a music recital, the school talent show, or a big presentation where public speaking is necessary. Furthermore, performing in the small, intimate recitals at Valotta Studios prepares your children to tackle these larger venues in their school careers and beyond! We hope that the use of the methods outlined in this post assists your child in overcoming stage fright and your family is prepared and excited for recital season at Valotta Studios!