This topic contains 6 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Donna Prezzano 8 months, 3 weeks ago.
November 26, 2016 at 7:34 am #2863
Has anyone had any success with online courses, books, meditaton or other techniques to help with performance anxiety? I would be interested to hear recommendations or warnings about the plethora of “self help” techniques that are available to the musician who is desperate to perform without losing it!November 26, 2016 at 10:27 am #2865
It seems you have the same problem as I have : playing for other people is something nearly impossible for me.
I suggest you to have a look at the Kenny Werner’s book “Effortless Mastery”.
Even it did not solve my problem (yet), it’s a great source of inspiration.November 27, 2016 at 3:04 am #2870
What a question! Here’s what helped me a lot. First there’s no simple answer. I used some cognitive behavioral psychology/therapy techniques (CBT). CBT is the standard approach that most professional therapists use these days for anxiety.
There are lots of interesting CBT techniques. The “downward arrow technique” specifically helped me (google it). I’ll focus on that, (but maybe another CBT concept will help you.) It can get at your deeper beliefs that affect your mood. You must use pencil and paper and write down your responses, don’t do this in your head.
Here is the technique.
1.Write down the thought that bothers you.
2.Ask yourself “What does this mean about me?”
3. Keep going until you get to the underlying core belief.
This is an example. Do your own.
“I feel nervous when I play in front of others” (what does this mean about me?)
“People are dissatisfied when I play (what does this mean about me?–do this every line!)
“people will talk ill of me”
“People will dislike me”
“If people dislike me, I will be shunned”
“if people shun me, I’ll be alone”
“if I’m alone, life is not worth living”
“If life isn’t worth living, I’ll die”
You get at the deep beliefs that give you performance anxieties. From there, find where your thinking is wrong, and substitute rational thoughts… “Really? If I mess up, people will shun me and I’ll die??? So wrong.”
Anyway, this process isn’t fast. But it works. Science-based.
Quick google–here’s a discussion of it. This may not work for you. It did help me.
Check out guys like David D Burns and the “Feeling Good Handbook.” The science is pretty solid on CBT.November 27, 2016 at 5:57 pm #2873
Thank you Thierry and Kris. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond. I do have Kenny Werner’s book and found parts of it useful (especially the part about being honest with yourself about the sections of music you need to work on more and disassociating yourself from your hands – be the observer and listener and enjoying the moment). I also have the book, Fight your fear and win, which contains some techniques that are very similar to the downward arrow technique and have worked, in part, for me. I will explore the CBT techniques some more. It is a fascinating subject and I feel that great progress can be made with the right techniques. I was looking at the Bulletproofmusician website and was wondering whether to take the plunge or not and whether my desperation was clouding my judgement. I’m still thinking about that one.
I have played in public a few times over the last 8 years but the results have been very mixed.
A discussion to be continued… perhaps.April 30, 2018 at 3:43 pm #3734
I am just new to this topic thread and am wondering how you have been with your performance anxiety since you first posted. If you play other instruments or sing does it still affect you the same?
As a singer it has taken a long time and lots of practice to get to the point of feeling ready and at ease….really enjoying the moments of singing. I am new to the piano and find it much more challenging to play for others.
Kenny Werner’s book and CD “Effortless Mastery” clinched it for me. The mediations were perfect. I try to apply the same principles and practice to the piano but it is a challenge in a different way.
Hope to hear your process and thoughts. Thanks for starting this.
DonnaApril 30, 2018 at 8:02 pm #3738
I have been playing for years every 2 weeks in a hospital foyer where people come and go also offices and a conference room nearby, sometimes a group of people walking past the piano. Have also played in retirement homes sometimes paid and once in a prison when the prisoners served lunch for 100 pensioners. All unerving but people moving about or eating mostly. Playing here is more nerve wracking. My hands shake. You have to know what you are doing very, very well. I think that is the secret. The better you can play it, the more confident you will be. Maybe start with pieces that are easier than your regular standard. Slower, more careful.Put a circle of concentration around you, an acting technique I believe. People in general will not notice mistakes, they are being carried away by the music. Most people will envy the fact that you can play. Concentrate on what you are trying to achieve with your music ie lifting tbe atmosphere, cheering people up etc this will take you away from your self. come to terms with tbe fact you may always be a bit nervous, it is well worth it. Hope this helps.May 2, 2018 at 1:32 am #3739
Thank you Berta!
i appreciate hearing your process in the moment of playing especially when there is so much going on around you. I also very much like your intention to stay focused on what you want to communicate with your music…uplift. nice!
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