How changing the way we think of ourselves can help us with stage fright
As classical musicians, we are known for being extraordinarily disciplined. Thorough. Driven. Passionate. Dedicated.
For auditions we need to have a machine-like ability to recreate excerpts exactly the way we want them under immense pressure. We need to be exceedingly solid in our technique when we perform a concerto so that if our fingers start shaking or our brain panics we still execute the music flawlessly. Our intonation needs to be so precise that when we have unison octaves with the string bases in orchestra we are within one or two cents of them.
The level of perfection Required to be a classical musician is unlike anything most humans experience on a day to day basis.
To achieve that perfection… well, we all know what it feels like in the practice room.
We put every aspect of our playing under a rigorous microscope. The areas of deficiency? Or weakness? Or needing refinement?
They become our self-flagellation.
“I suck at low register articulation.”
“My high register is always out of tune.”
“I can’t get my chromatic scales even.”
“I’ll never nail this passage.”
“I hate my __________.”
Living in this place of less than, of feeling inadequate and unworthy is DAMAGING.
You are hurting yourself when you use this kind of language. The very core of who you are - what makes you beautiful and special - is being chipped away practice session after practice session.
This language does not relegate itself to a specific aspect of your playing. It ends up characterizing all of your playing and, ultimately, who you are as a human .
So, “I suck at low register articulation” becomes “I suck.”
“I’ll never nail this passage” becomes “I’ll never be good enough.”
Because your identity as musician is so deeply linked to your value as a human, when you believe you aren’t good enough on the _______, you also believe you simply aren’t good enough. Period.
A Better Way
There is a better way. A way which honors and celebrates your humanity as a worthy, beautiful human regardless of your performance on your instrument.
Your value as a person on this planet has nothing to do with how in tune you play, how beautiful your sound is or what competitions you have won. Nothing.
In fact, there is nothing you have to DO to earn worthiness. You simply are, because you are alive. It is inherent within your being.
When we learn to approach our performances with this fundamental orientation of our human value,
We are FREE to make authentic music.
We are FREE to make mistakes and then learn from them.
We are FREE to put ourselves in scary situations because we know that if we fail, we still matter.
We are FREE to see that we are on this wonderful artistic adventure that’s only trajectory is forward in growth.
You’ll be able to pick up your instrument and feel joy! And maybe sometimes frustration.
But never shame.
Come back to yourself, dear musician. You are worthy.
Next Steps and Additional Resources
Here at The Musician's Mindset we have some incredible resources for developing and implementing mindset practices that will transform how you perform on stage.
First, check out our Personalized Mindset Tools Quiz to discover the mindset strategies perfect for YOU!
Join the waiting list for my FREE mini-course, How to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve and Calm the Heck Down.
Founder of The Musician's Mindset
Katie is dedicated to helping musicians overcome stage fright and believe in their own unique artistic voice. She believes live classical music is a powerful antidote for the division, pain, and loneliness pervasive in the culture and strives to support all artists to confidently share their work with the world. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, three kiddos, a dog, a snake, and a goldfish named Orca.