Handling Performance Anxiety

I work with students on performance skills on a regular basis. What students learn in the studio carries over into school and life.
1. I teach slow measured breathing, very similar to the breathing that is used in yoga.
Breath in 1-2-3 and out 1-2-3-4.
The idea is to continue the breath at a steady pace, and keep oxygen moving to the muscles that control playing. Often students complain about shaky hands and feet. This phenomenon is actually the result of shallow breathing, which results in fewer red blood cells going to the extremeties. By breathing slowly and deeply, the muscles relax and the shaking is relieved.
2. I teach a form of mental practice as well. Students are taught to imagine 5 steps leading up to the actual performance, and to relax as they go through each step in their mind. This can be done with relaxation music or even quietly in ones mind. Once the 5 steps can be “played through” in succession without feeling nervous, the student will experience a calm and relaxaed feeling during performance. Each student can create their own list of steps leading to performance and use music from a phone. It takes about 5 min to do and can be practiced anytime. I highly recommend this to all students.
I will continue in my next blog with other performance skills…..

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