performance anxiety

Overcome Stage Fright: Speak Confidently In Public

How To Speak Confidently On Stage

In 2017, my colleagues and I were ecstatic and grateful to receive honorary doctorates for our work at Denison University. With this honor, we were asked to give the commencement speech as well...to thousands of people. While it did not phase my colleagues, it definitely got my heart pumping followed by a rush of anxious thoughts. Now this wasn't the first time I was getting nervous at the thought of speaking in public, but it was definitely a situation with higher stakes. Some of the thoughts that went through my head were what if I messed up? Would the University be embarrassed that they just honored me? Would my colleagues be disappointed? Would the faculty and students question my value and forever remember me as the guy who couldn't speak? AHHH! Be right back, freaking out. 

Photo Credit: Tim Black

Photo Credit: Tim Black

So, what should I do to not feel anxious? 

Prepare. Sound familiar?

The first step is to develop great content. If you don't have great content, you won't feel as entitled to speak as well. It's like the difference between playing a piece that clearly lacks quality compared to your favorite piece. There's just a different mindset even if as a professional you try to play every piece with equal effort. Along with developing great content, you'll inevitably discover techniques like "making good eye contact". All of these techniques are in service of helping you communicate your great content. It's like learning how to produce a good sound quality with your instrument so the audience is not distracted and can actually listen to the music. 

The second step is working with a speaking coach. We all know the value of private lessons and coachings. Nothing gets you to your goal faster and more efficiently. In tandem with working with a coach, you will need to practice consistently and develop good habits. All the typical practice principles apply like taking it slow, doing it right the first time, listening intently, analyzing and applying the right solutions, experimenting, and repeating the passage until you can execute it 10 times perfectly in a row. 

The third step is to begin speaking in public! Join a toastmasters club or practice in front of friends. This is a crucial step because we all know that no matter how much you practice, it never guarantees how you will do on stage. You need speaking experience!

The fourth and final step is to speak with a clear intention in the present moment. A lot of times you will watch many presentations and speeches that have zero personality. This will not be good enough. There needs to be a performance aspect to it. You need to embody the character of what you are saying just like in music. 

In conclusion, you will need great content, techniques to convey your message, individual practice, public practice, and that X factor to speak in public successfully. This may sound like a lot of work, but as performers already, you have the foundation in place to move people with your words. So, do not fear, put in the work, be patient, and develop this vital skill!

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-Coach Cory
contact@liberatedperformer.com

 

How To Recover From A Bad Performance

How To Recover From A Bad Performance

Have you ever experienced an extreme low after performing? Well, I certainly have. Check out these thoughts about what you're feeling and how to bounce back. You can take your worst performance or audition experience and transform your whole life. 

Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments at contact@liberatedperformer.com

Be well.

-Coach Cory
contact@liberatedperformer.com
 

How To Perform Your Best in Auditions and Concerts

How To Perform Your Best in Auditions and Concerts

Having trouble believing in yourself? Learn about entitlement and how it can help you succeed on stage! If you're going to win an audition or perform your best, developing the good type of entitlement is an absolute necessity. The stage is a place to succeed. You deserve to be yourself. 

Leave a comment below about your level of entitlement or opinions and contact me with any questions!
 

-Coach Cory
contact@liberatedperformer.com

How To Mentally Prepare for Recording Sessions

How To Mentally Prepare for Recording Sessions

Do you get nervous while recording? Here are a few tips to improve your next recording session! Discover the similarities between a performance and recording. Take these crucial tips to the recording session so you can learn how to produce your albums. If you want the true value out of recordings, you need to know about the other side of the microphone. 

Leave a comment below about your recording experiences or opinions and contact me with any questions!

-Coach Cory
contact@liberatedperformer.com

3 Things I Learned From My First Professional Performance

3 Things I Learned From My First Professional Performance

It was a cold day in New York City and I headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for my first performance as a professional. This was my life now. No school, no safety nets, just real, real consequences. How did I feel? 

Photo Credit: Mark Kingsley

Photo Credit: Mark Kingsley

I felt pressure from every angle. I had to learn new repertoire in a short amount of time, perform with musicians who I had never performed with before, and deal with a new identity.

Let's break down repertoire. We all know the feeling of being underprepared. It isn't peaceful. It's like your brain goes into intense survival mode...Ok...just trying to come in right, play the right notes, and if possible, follow the composers directions to at least appear musical.

This was no good for my confidence.

Then the whole chemistry thing...I just met my colleagues under a week ago and now I have to understand their body language, playing style, and energy. Oh, and they already knew the repertoire so they would know when I messed up.

This was no good for my confidence.

And last but not least, I viewed myself as a student. How does that make me feel among seasoned professionals and critics? Totally inferior. It's time to play pianissimo.

I began unpacking in the green room with mixed emotions. On one hand, I was actually really excited. This has been what I was working for my whole life and the moment was finally here! However, excitement always quickly evaporates in the face of anxiety. Yep, the guy who has been coaching musicians for the past 4 years is getting nervous. Hypocritical? Possibly, but it wasn't my first performance experience so I knew exactly what to do. Here was my breakdown of how I survived and launched into my professional career with success. 

1) Identify emotions immediately

My heart was pumping and I started to retreat into my shell. I quickly told myself that I'm nervous. Now I do this for a couple reasons. The first is the fact that if I lied to myself, I would not allow myself to move on from that emotion. The second is the fact that it's part of my pre-performance routine which involves identifying how I'm truly feeling and proceeding to a mental state of optimal performance level. 

2) I acknowledged I was nervous and then...

I literally started shouting reaffirming statements to myself. For example, I reminded myself that this was NOT my first performance, this was NOT the first time I've had to perform underprepared, they HIRED ME for a reason, and I WILL SURVIVE. Now this may seem ridiculous, but honestly getting nervous is ridiculous. A lot of times to change your state of mind you have to do crazy things that are outside the box. This is why passive techniques aren't always the solution. 

3) CRAM CRAM CRAM

This particular performance was all about survival. I always advocate that you should enjoy the stage but you earn that right through hard work, patience, and experience. Here I was with no previous professional experience, new repertoire, and new colleagues. It wasn't a setup that would allow for complete freedom on stage like at a recital where you have plenty of time to prepare. So I knew in order to walk away satisfied from this performance, I crammed my intonation, rhythm, and musical practice right up until the performance.

Conclusion

From what I wrote, it wasn't my best performance experience. I was not completely free on stage because I was so tied to managing the performance. However, I view this performance as a key point in my career. This was my first professional performance and I played decently. It gave me the confidence to take on the next performance with just a tad more confidence. I was on my way to becoming a master performer and actually identifying myself as a professional musician.

Good luck in your upcoming performance!

-Coach Cory
contact@liberatedperformer.com