Music Performance Anxiety (MPA) is a feeling of overwhelming anxiety that can build up before a performance.
MPA can cause psychological and physical symptoms in musicians and performers.
How common is it?
MPA affects musicians of all ages and ability levels, although younger musicians tend to be more commonly affected.
Up to 60% of professional musicians experience MPA - one-third of these musicians indicate a severe problem.
MPA can be experienced alone or alongside existing anxiety disorders.
If you are experiencing MPA, it can present in a number of ways.
Negative expectations around your performance
Thoughts of failure
Try square breathing to help reduce stress, ease anxiety symptoms and calm your mind.
Too much alcohol
Too much caffeine
Poor sleeping and eating habits
Turning up late
Visualising and ruminating on everything that could go wrong
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Acknowledge how you’re feeling
You may find it helpful to release thoughts and emotions by writing them down.
Shut down your inner critic
Be kind to yourself. If you find yourself lost in thoughts of self-criticism, try to shut them down as early as possible.
Focus on what could go right, not wrong
Talk to a bandmate or friend
Get some fresh air
Try a breathing exercise
e.g. square breathing
Try some grounding techniques
Grounding techniques can help counteract the feelings of anxiety. They can bring you back to the here and now, relax your mind, and help you gain some perspective.
Inhale slow, deep breaths of a pleasant smell.
Focus on your breathing or practise a technique, like square breathing.
Splash water on your face.
Stop and listen to the sounds around you.
Notice what’s around you - count or describe objects you can see
Dig your heels into the floor.
Do 30 seconds of intense exercise - get slightly out of breath.
Carry a grounding object in your pocket that you can touch when you feel distressed.