Stage fright help
Found in: Recitals & Events
Nancy J., Canada
Looking for some advice re: stage fright. I had a student that performed for a talent show at school. Forgot where to put her hands and just couldn’t get started. I was there and ran up after she tried a few times to start to re-position her hands, and she proceeded to play the song beautifully. I spoke to her afterward and she was upset but I thought I had encouraged her enough that she would be okay.
Fast forward to my own studio recital a week later. She came with her mom (who had dragged her to the recital); she’d been crying on and off for hours about not wanting to play. She and her mom ended up leaving before the recital started. She just couldn’t do it.
Lessons are done now for the summer but I was wondering if anyone had advice about how to deal with this in September. She told her mom that she liked playing piano but just not in front of other people. She’s quite the little musician and it would be a shame if she never “got back on the horse”.
Leeanne I., Australia
Is she in a group or a private student? Groups get you used to playing in front of other people on a regular basis and that is, simply, the best way to get over it. Discuss with the student what happened. Explain that everyone gets nervous and it is quite normal. Discuss a way she can really remember where to put her hands to start a song which, in my opinion, is the most important part of a song.
Learn to improvise your way out of a situation where you forget what to do. Get her to play often for small groups of people, like family and friends in a mini concert to practice performing. Don’t force the issue too much for now, the important thing is she keeps playing.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
I recommend Gordon’s new program available in the Creative Coaching Series called Playing in the Moment. It is available for both students and teachers and has some great insights on this subject.
Gordon Harvey, Australia
Sounds like she was a little traumatized by the talent show. I would treat it like any trauma, with gentle encouragement, empathy, and slow baby steps, letting her set the pace of her healing (I don’t mean this in the dramatic way it probably sounds, but it is genuine trauma, however mild). I would follow Leeanne’s advice, and if there isn’t much obvious progress by September, I wouldn’t push the issue. I think there probably will be progress, but if she doesn’t want to play for others in the short to medium term, but she’s still enjoying playing for herself, that’s better than having her put off music entirely.
A good place to start would simply be giving her the task of playing one song to one family member each day.