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Most of us have experienced anxiety in our everyday lives.  Each person experiences anxiety on different levels. This blog will explore the levels of anxiety, and some simple techniques to help overcome performance anxiety.

Before a performance, even the most accomplished performers have experienced it. There are varying degrees of anxiety. From the sweaty palms, butterflies in the stomach, and excessive worrying, to the restlessness and insomnia, to the constant worrying about your anxiety. It can become a minor inconvenience to completely debilitating.

Well never fear! There are several simple ways to help you deal with and manage your anxiety. Dr. Travis Baird is a performance coach and musician health specialist. He holds degrees from Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, University of South Carolina, and the University of Texas at Arlington. He is also a registered yoga instructor and personal trainer. He had also performed musically all around the world. Dr. Baird has developed a 4 step routine to help you overcome your performance anxiety.

  1. Center your focus and set your intention. Before your pre-performance warm up, take a couple of minutes to center your focus. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Slow deep breaths, inhale and exhale through the nose. Repeat for about 1 minute. Set your intention regarding your performance. Affirm your commitment to giving your best performance.
  2. Water and snacks. Staying hydrated and healthy during a performance is key. Bottled water, and a healthy snack, such as a banana, granola bar, or almonds.
  3. Warm up. you not only warm up with your instrument, you also need to warm up your body and your mind. Careful not to overdo, save your energy for your performance.
  4. Re-focus and embrace the spotlight. Let go of distracting thoughts and center and focus on your performance

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Above all, remember that music performance is not about perfection, things happen, one of the most exciting elements of a live performance.

Something all performers encounter in the course of their careers is negative thinking. As humans, we all have that inner critic. As musicians, we train ourselves to hear any tiny flaw in our performance. Dr. Baird has devised three easy steps for musicians to help with that nagging inner critic. He states that we need to switch from negative criticism to constructive awareness.

  1. When you are bogged down with the negative thoughts, take a step back and objectively view your musical abilities. Let go of the emphasis on errors, and believe in your ability to improve.
  2. Listen to your thoughts. You usually do not view your thoughts as negative. But you could be second-guessing your ability and not even realize it. Try switching from negative thoughts such as, I am bad at this, or I will never get this. Try I need to work on this, or I am improving with a little more practice, I got this!
  3. Inspiration. The next to time you are listening to music, whether it is your playing, or someone else’s, focus on your thoughts. Are they negative, or constructive? Are they helpful or hurtful? You may be robbing yourself of the enjoyment of the actual music. Try some healthy, positive experiences, in music and other areas. Reading a good book, seeing a play, or enjoying nature. Positive inspiration, in other areas as well as with your music, is key.

As in all aspects, diligence, and practice are great and healthy ways to stay motivated and positive in your endeavors.

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