Practice Tip of the Week:
Understand Your Nerves

Some musicians are lucky. They never get nervous.

They can perform at the drop of a hat. They don’t
even give it a second’s thought. If this is you,
feel free to skip this week’s practice tip.

For the rest of us, we need to understand our nervous
cycles. We must learn to use our nervousness to our
benefit and even channel this energy into our performances.

First off, know that you are nervous because playing
music is important to you. You are actually lucky to
have something in your life to feel nervous about!

You care so much about your music that it can make
you feel nervous. Many people have nothing they are
passionate about. You do!

Second, learn how your nervousness manifests itself
physically. Each of us reacts differently when we
feel nervous. Do you get sweaty palms? Dry mouth?
The shakes? Increased heart rate? Shallow breathing?
Need to go to the bathroom?

By understanding the effect being nervous has on your
body, you can decide on the best remedy to counteract
your symptoms.

You may need to carry a towel or a glass of water on
stage with you. Perhaps deep breathing exercises will
help. Maybe you’ll need to visit the bathroom just
before you walk on stage. Musicians even use prescription
beta blockers to feel steady.

Do whatever it takes to feel in control physically.

Third, make sure you are aware of the timeline of your
nervous cycle.

Some musicians feel overcome with nerves right before
a performance. Others are nervous an hour before going
on stage, or even the day before.

You must learn what you can and cannot get accomplished
when you feel nervous. Perhaps practicing or warming up
during that time period is not realistic for you. You
will need to fill that time with something that will calm
you down: a visualization, calling a friend, watching a video.

Finally, you can decide to push your nervous feelings–which
are a by-product of your desire for success–into the intensity
of your music.

Don’t let your nerves affect your private thoughts or arouse
your inner critic. Instead, take all that bundled-up energy
and let it escape through your instrument.

Controlling nerves is part of successful practicing and performing.
Increasing your awareness and understanding of your own nervous
cycle can have a surprisingly positive effect on your playing.

To Your Musical Success!