Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Are you prepared mentally for performance?

Check out this article "Master your adrenalin".by Elizabeth Robinson..a great read for all that perform or speak in public.

Master Your Adrenalin…
Are your students prepared mentally for their performance?
To be anxious is to be human. Recently I watched Michael Parkinson interview Matthew Perry and Hugh Jackman – both accomplished, successful Hollywood stars. They both confessed that they feel nervous before a show.
Many music teachers are required to perform. It may be a solo, as part of an ensemble, or accompanying a soloist. The likelihood is that those who choose to go on with music professionally don’t experience crippling levels of ‘performance anxiety.’ Music teachers are self-selecting. Those who do suffer from excessive stage-fright drop out of music. If you like, we are the ones who have survived the traumas of performance.
Whatever your own experience, the students we teach experience performance anxiety in a range of intensities. Some of our students will drop out of music altogether, rather than face up to regular concerts. Even if children perform regularly from an early age, they experience increased nerves through the teenage years. From adulthood on, fears reach an all-time high. Adult students will often be terrified at the prospect of performing. As teachers, are we ensuring that our students are adequately prepared mentally as well as technically and musically?
The good news is that for most people, these fears can be overcome. Most music teachers feel ill-equipped to help their students overcome performance anxiety. Help is available. Music teachers should be aware of the resources available and direct their students toward that help where necessary. There may even be teachers that could benefit from this training too.
Years ago I attended a lecture on performance anxiety. I was in the middle of a series of accreditation performances, and I was severely inhibited by my nerves. I had the classic dry mouth, total distraction, sweaty palms, loss of memory, loss of concentration, loss of fine motor control, inability to sleep or focus. In short, I was a wreck. I viewed my assessors as a pride of hungry lions, waiting to devour. I exaggerated the results of possible failure and replayed over and over in my head, images and words of doom. The lecturer told us that it is possible to learn to control nerves – to arrive at a point where we are free to perform to the best of our ability. In my ignorance, arrogance and mainly fear, I did not believe her.
Later I got so desperate about my lack of control, that I examined the facts. There is overwhelming evidence testifying to thousands who have learned to control anxiety. I set about my own research and after months of practise and training, proved to myself that control is possible. Control of this kind is not learned overnight, but like anything, comes with practise.
Our aim is not to banish nerves completely. In fact, research supports the notion that some anxiety is helpful to an artist. There is an optimum level of anxiety which enhances our performance. If we can control the amount of adrenalin pumping
Copyright  2003 Elizabeth H Robinson 1

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