Some of my confident piano students admitted to “nerves” or “stage fright.”
This is not uncommon for first time performers.
I said to them,”You’re used to sitting in the audience, as a student. I’m used to standing in front of the class. It’s natural that you’d experience stage fright when we swap places.”
We brainstormed on how to overcome stage fright.
One student said that taking drama class helped a lot. There are exercises in impromptu acting which helps you think on the spot. You are forced to stand in front of an audience you can’t see because the spotlight is directed at you.
Another said practice. The more you practice, the more you know the piece and the less likely you will mess up.
Yes, practising the piece you’re going to perform is important. But you should also practise giving performances.
I told the class that I once pursued a bad habit of looking for grand pianos in hotels. I would force myself to go to the piano and play something from memory. The audience was anonymous and so was I. I had nothing to lose but everything to gain.
I also recalled forcing myself to make announcements at meetings or ask questions at conferences. Once upon a time, I worked on the trading floor for dealers who were impatient and intimidating because of the large sums of money they were managing. It was scary to join their late morning meeting, make an announcement and become the center of attention for 3 minutes. I was sure they’d rather go get lunch.
The important thing is to overcome your fears.
Long ago, I remember my hands and fingers getting antsy, sweaty, and even numb. I can’t remember when I stopped feeling like that.
They say it takes 10,000 hours to get good at something. How many thousand times does it take to overcome stage fright?