When adjudicating at a music festival, a concerned parent asked me how she could help her daughter feel less performance anxiety.
I asked her how does her daughter learn? We determined that the child learned visually.
It would be helpful for the student to visually find a “place” where she feels comfortable playing. That should be an”image” that she carries in her mind.
Then, when she sits down at a Festival piano, she can take a moment a “center” herself on that visual image. It can change her whole physiological state – her heart rate will slow down, her shoulders may relax, her breathing will become more regular. Those are the reactions that she would experience when playing the piano in a “comfortable” state.
When someone becomes effective at this “visualization” they don’t become involved with the audience at the festival. They are actually “in their mind” playing somewhere else. They still have to deal with a “different” piano and new acoustics, but at least their “music soul” is comfortable and performance anxiety can be much less.
How do you help your students deal with performance anxiety?
The above technique does not work for auditory learners – that’s another story!