Sometimes people ask me if I ever get nervous about performing. The honest answer is “almost never” – but that has a lot to do with a lifetime of doing it, as well as how I’m wired. I used to say “never” but an instance happened relatively recently where nerves definitely affected my ability to present as well as I know I can. That was a good reminder!
Many people in my world are pushing themselves to show their stuff in front of an audience. Maybe you’re one of them. Whether it is in one of the choirs I direct, at an open mic, a Whistling Duck event or in some other forum, getting up and making sound in front of people can be daunting. The Bow Valley Music Festival is coming up in March – if it doesn’t affect you, it may affect someone you know.
What can be done? First off, know that nerves and adrenaline are not necessarily bad things. They play on that “fight or flight” reflex and the tensions that make you stay and “fight” (or perform) can add energy and excitement to your presentation. Also, breathe. Remember to inhale and exhale. You can also do a little hop back and forth on your toes and “shake it out” sort of action; I’ve read that that can reset elements of your nervous system that are useful. It feels good, regardless.
But the best thing you can do for nerves is to know your stuff. Practice, practice, practice. Learn your words, learn the chords, know where you’re going to breathe and do it over and over and over until there is a muscle-memory response. It is also good to use people in your world as test-subjects. Play for your partner, your kids, your parents, your friends on Facetime, your stuffed animals, your pets.
In the meantime, here is one of the most beautiful examples of bravery-over-nerves that I have ever seen. Take inspiration from it – and shine on!