Right before you go on stage, you are probably going through what you will do once you are finally in front of everyone. Hopefully, you are imagining things going well! We know that there can be a lot of pressure when playing the church organ in front of a large group, especially if there are people in the audience who mean quite a bit to you. As you start to feel that nervousness creep into your stomach, what will you do?
Understanding Test Anxiety
While your performance is not likely to be a test, the research that has been conducted on test anxiety may actually help you calm your nerves before going out on stage. While taking a test in school is one thing and playing in the finals of an orchestra audition are quite different, the two do share some important similarities.
What is on your mind during performing or taking a test? When it comes down to it, there are only two things you could be thinking about. The first is task-relevant details that will help you perform better (or when taking a test, details that will help you comprehend the questions and answer correctly. The second is details that are not relevant to the task at hand. For example, thinking about failing the exam, messing up the performance, or blanking on the information as we need it.
As you may have surmised, our ability to focus on things that matter and ignore the things that do not is a crucial skill that can lead us to success or failure when it comes to music performance.
As we perform, our brains have a tendency to focus on what is going wrong in our performance, or about an upcoming section that is difficult for us to execute properly. After that, it becomes a spiral of what will happen if we mess up. These thoughts don’t help, but they can be hard to control.
However, the more you indulge these thoughts and negative feelings, the more your Working Memory system has to focus on useless information that will not help you perform better. And, when Working Memory is overextended, our ability to focus on things we really need to perform better is diminished.
How to Overcome this Issue
One of the most helpful exercises you can do to overcome this is called “expressive writing.” This technique can actually free up some of our Working Memory space by lowering the chances of negative thoughts to slip into our focus.
In fact, all you need to do to take advantage of this trick it to write down your anxieties and worries before you go on stage to perform. That’s it! A Study from the University of Chicago found that students with test anxiety who did this averaged a B+ on their tests. Those who didn’t try expressive writing received a B-. As strange as it may seem, writing down your concerns and negative thoughts before doing something important can help you keep your anxiety low and help you perform to the best of your abilities.
Give it a Try!
If you are looking for a new way to ease your mind before a performance, try this technique. As a musician, you know how stressful it can be to think ahead to your performance. Instead of letting those thoughts sit and distract you, write them down about ten minutes before you perform. You might find that it is easier to stay focused and calm.
For the finest in church organs, please contact Viscount Organs! We look forward to helping you find the perfect digital organ for your performance needs.