January 22, 2014

Step out there

Stage fright has an incredible power over people. There are well known, well loved performers who famously suffer from stage fright.  The problem with suffering with stage fright is that it cuts you off from opportunities - and most of us don't like to have good opportunities disappear.  However, being afraid to get in front of a group and perform can significantly impact your harp life.  After all, why do we play if not to share our gifts with others? 

So how do you get to a point that you can perform for other people when you are terrified?  It is easy for others to tell you to get over it or to tell you that you need to focus outside yourself and share.  But if all that goes right out of your head when you're about to set foot on stage, here are a few things to bring into your practice to help you be feel more easy and lower your stage fright.

  1. Practice the material!  Be sure that you know all the tunes you want to play in your program. 
  2. Record your self – at first you’ll be self-conscious…but keep at it – you’ll hear all kinds of things you don’t hear while you’re playing (both good and bad)…use this to build your practice, your program…and your confidence. 
  3. Practice improvisation – most stage fright comes from the fear that you’ll forget what you were going to play and will be left standing on the stage like a doofus.  The sure way around this is to practice improvisation to get you out of scrapes and to fill time while you think (I am not kidding). 
  4. Build up - first play for your cat, then your immediate family, then add your best friend, other friends, etc.  Work your way up to a room full of strangers. 
  5. Connect with your audience – it is one thing to be told that they want you to succeed.  But if you look up, look at them, connect verbally and nonverbally, you’ll finally believe it - you'll see it in their faces.  They know they can’t do what you’re about to do…and they will be amazed! 
  6. Laugh – you will be tense…it probably helps that you’re a little tense…but be prepared to laugh, to enjoy yourself…and your audience will too. 
  7. Plan for the day – arrange to have time before you play to give yourself time to get there, get set up, breathe, and settle in. You will feel better if you're settled than if you have to race in at the last minute.
  8. You are not alone!  Know that everyone has some level of trepidation.  Once you realize that everyone feels this way to some extent, you might not feel so marked out.
Stage fright is just another thing you can overcome with practice.  Maybe that should be a goal for this year?  Always play to enjoy - even if there is a little bit of fear mixed in.

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