I am reminded of a time in my early childhood when I was asked to play at a local Senior center, in my home town. For a child, this seemed like a no-brainer. There was to be no attachment to my playing, no worries – I just wanted to play. So, when I was asked to play, there was no hesitation in my agreement to do so.
As I grew, both musically and in maturity, I noticed some things that started happening in regards to other’s expectancy, as well as my approach to how I presented my music. There seemed to be a simpleness lost, or forgotten perhaps. This is something I notice also in my adult students in where I find them getting nervous in front of friends, me, and even family! You must start asking questions into why this happens. After interviewing the different aged students of mine, they all come to the same conclusion: That when they play infront of ANYONE they get nervous because they feel as though there seems to be, in their mind, an expectancy of some kind to uphold. This can cause a lot of strain on a performer or student. The stress that comes from this mental boundary can cause the player to fault in their performance. Is this simply a implied mental suggestion that there is something to be nervous about? To the performer this can feel very real! Some people have been known to even vomit before a performances due to the added stress of being nervous. If it is all in your mind, we see first hand here what powerful effect it can have on our external world, and physical body. In order to explore this further I would have to instruct that as a performer you should ask, “Are their HONESTLY expectations of me?” and if so, then to what degree? If there are actually expectations from friends, family, or co-workers to do well in a particular area, then you shouldn’t necessarily nervous. Instead focus on your preparation. Before a chef presents a fine meal he must prepare the meal starting from the preparation of the dough the night before. This same approach can be installed as to ease your anxious stress. Also breathing may help. Throughout my work with my students I have observed that when they are nervously performing something they aren’t prepared in, after they are finished they seem out of breath. This is particularly interesting because they haven’t moved their feet at all as to assume some cardiovascular exercise. But rather, remained stationary for the entirety of the performance. A great signal to become aware of is your heart beat and your breathing. When your heart rate rises this signals the heart requiring more energy to pump the blood due to increase amounts of constant blood flow. This, causing stress on the whole body. Other physical signs to be aware of are raised shoulders, a tightened abdomen, and clinched facial muscles.
We may have more assumed attachments then when had when we were children. We very well may be expected to do well more so when we are mature. But, in what case do we not want to do well for others? If we approach playing music with the focus that we want to make their day better with our music, then we will take the steps required to be prepared, relaxed, and forthcoming with our musical gifts.
By: Thomas McGregor, Interconnect-Interactive 2011