What does fear feel like in your body? For me, it feels like coldness in my chest/belly and feeling disconnected from my arms and legs. Feeling groundless and unstable. It feels alone and lonely. Like everyone listening to me is seeing through me and judging me harshly. Breathing becomes difficult.
Can you briefly remember a time you were nervous to perform and remember what physical sensations you felt? Can you release that thought and know those sensations were just your body's way of letting you know your emotional feelings. We become free as performers when we can allow our thoughts to direct how we physically experience anything before and during performance.
The next time you have to play for an audience of one or one thousand, realize that when you have those tell-tale signs of stage-fright that you have a choice. The choice to continue experiencing the physical and emotional state of fear OR you can change your thoughts to change your body. New positive thoughts can be:
“ I’ve done the work and I’m ready for this performance!”
“That high note is coming up...I’m going to remain calm and remember to keep my throat open.”
“That fast passage is coming…..where in my body
can I release a little extra tension to prepare for it?”
“I’ve got time to breathe for this long passage….”
The key to this is either using a kind internal voice or a humorous internal voice. Yelling or cursing at yourself will immediately put you in a frame of mind to prevent you from performing your best.
Whatever you think while experiencing fear...try to make your thoughts calm and kind….or funny. If you change your mindset you can change your experience of fear into enjoyment and confidence.