Friday, July 08, 2005

Performance anxiety

I am a fairly nervous person -- and performing has never come naturally for me. When I was first performing koto in Japan, my hands would shake, and my fingers would loose their strength, and my mind would whirl wildly. Looking back, and remembering how awkwardly I performed because of this, I can hardly believe I continued to play. Somehow, I always thought that if I just continued, it would get better. But nervousness has been one of the most difficult aspect of my studies.

Then, one day, my teacher, Kazue Sawai, told me that I was spoiling myself to allow myself to be nervous. "Keep your focus on the music, not you," she scolded.

Ah -- performance anxiety as a form of self-indulgence!! I had not seen it that way before, but that bit of advice has helped me through many nervous moments.

I have also learned along the way to play in the moment, and to not get distracted with mistakes made -- to keep moving forward, with the music (and/or story.) Worrying about a mistake you just made (or about a difficult section coming up) takes away from what you are doing at the moment. So, I have worked hard to keep my mind in the measure I am in, nowhere else, while I perform.

The other thing that has helped me is to accept my nervousness as natural, rather than to 'try not to be nervous." Nervousness is a part of performing, and to get used to playing in that state of mind, fingers shaking, rather than to try (in vain) to change that state of mind, has helped me to make progress as well.

If these little bits of advice help anyone out there, great!! I've read books and articles on the subject, and these are the things that have helped me the most. Music is about sharing....don't let your nerves get the best of you!

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?