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Recital Preparation, Without Trepidation

The fall recital is coming up! Are you excited yet?

If your child is any bit like I was, s/he might be a bit nervous. Ok, maybe very nervous! Playing music in public has a lot in common with America's #1 fear: the fear of public speaking. But just as we can overcome oratory worry, we humans can conquer musical stage fright as well!

There are a lot of ways to do this. One of my favorite books to help with this is called A Soprano On Her Head by Eloise Ristad. A trick that helped me really move beyond my performance anxiety was turning the body's natural fight or flight response around on itself.

You notice how your palms sweat, your heart races, and your mouth gets dry when you're nervous? In the book, she suggests that when this happens, instead of trying to stop this natural reaction, performers should start running in place, rubbing palms together, and quickening their breath to essentially step in front of what their bodies are doing. Suddenly, those autonomic responses become something they're taking an active role in, and it becomes much easier to get in front of those feelings of worry.

Maybe that trick works for your child; it certainly did for me as a young piano player and even into my 20s as a guitar player.

Now, even if your child doesn't struggle with performance anxiety, there are a few things that all students can do before a recital to make it even better. Here are just a few things:

1. Do recital practice for family and friends before the event (and experience lavish praise and encouragement!)

2. Choose a piece of music that is very comfortable and already well-rehearsed; polish this with your private lesson instructor in the weeks prior

3. Get lots of sleep the night before, and don't forget to eat the day of!

4. Breathe, and remember that every musical performance will "be what it will be."

5. And most importantly, remember that playing music is FUN! :)

There is a favorite expression of mine that I think of when I find myself struck with a little stage fright. It's this: "Don't worry, because worrying never accomplishes anything. If your worst fears come true and you didn't worry, you only suffered once. If your worst fears come true and you worried about it, you suffered twice."

We'd love to hear what tips and tricks have worked for you and your family, to get over performance anxiety. It doesn't have to be specifically for musical performances either. Share your tips with us!

And as a reminder, the Fall Recital Details:

November 11, at 1:30pm at The Center for Art and Spirit at St. George (1 School Rd, Asheville, NC 28806).

Students, please plan to arrive with your instrument (except piano students) at least one half hour prior to showtime.

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