Everything you’ve ever done in life, you were once bad at. The fact of the matter is that the task doesn’t change– you just get better at it!
Think back to something you were once afraid to do: from running a mile to taking that reach interview. Whatever it was, the first step toward your goal was probably deciding to be uncomfortable and persist toward your goal anyway. Music performance can be a similar challenge. Let’s break down some ideas that may help you take your musical journey to that next step:
- Performing is “optional”. Many students begin lessons with a goal to play music for their own self-satisfaction. This is a wonderful first step and an admirable pursuit! While it’s important to take pleasure in your own music-making, most musicians will tell you that the real magic happens when music-making becomes a shared experience. There is just something about living that moment of inspiration together with another person that elevates it. We believe that no musician should be excluded from that joy and that playing for your own enjoyment only is a false safety net, one that limits your possible experience. Performance is often misunderstood as being motivated by Ego; the best performers are not approaching it this way and you shouldn’t either! Performance is about lived experience and sharing.
- Music exists only in time. With the exception of playing in a recording studio, your mistakes fade away as instantly as they occur. Fear of a mistake is a false fear because the mistake cannot hurt you– only your reaction to the mistake can throw off a performance (à la “you have nothing to fear, but fear itself”– it’s true!). When performing with or for others, keep in mind that listeners are collaborating with you in the experience– they want you to succeed and are listening for the moments of beauty, not any mistakes that sneak in.
- Master your Nervous System. When you feel nervous, it’s simply your evolutionary self-defence mechanism kicking in! Rather than telling your body there is a perceived threat, take control over this mixed signal by slowing your breathing. Inhale to a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4, and hold again for 4. Repeat until you feel calm (generally just a minute or two!). Slowing your breathing will better oxygenate your blood, promote vasodilation, and lower your heart rate, all of which will contribute to helping you feel more present and less like you’re chasing a runaway cart.
- Repetition creates Habit. Once you cross the threshold of that first performance (or five– some of us continue to respond to performance as ‘danger’ for longer than others, and that’s OK), your body eventually learns that there is no danger in sharing the experience of making music. Nervousness isn’t forever! Do yourself the favor of facing it down a couple of times and enjoy the life-long gift that sharing music together can be. Before you know it, you’ll wonder what you were ever afraid of (just like that first mile or scary interview, etc!). It’s worth it!
Wherever your current feelings toward music performance fall on this spectrum, Cardon Voice’s teachers are here to help you mince out the right approach for you. We’re here to support you at every stage, and encourage you to try new things, stretch, and grow. Our three-part event series offers a variety of entry points (both live and pre-recorded) for performers of all levels to share and support their peers. We hope you’ll join our warm community of musicians in sharing music together.
Ready to start your musical journey? Learn more about Online Lessons with Cardon Voice.