“The key to harnessing on-stage energy is to use it for music-making purposes”
The Musician’s Way, p. 186

Let’s say that you’re walking on stage to begin a performance: Your heart’s beating somewhat fast and your hands feel cool; maybe your mouth turns dry.

Are you eager to launch into your program or worried that things could go awry?

That rapid pulse, parched mouth, and general jitteriness result from adrenaline being released into the bloodstream – a response that naturally occurs when we feel excited or threatened.

Thing is, adrenaline can charge up or undermine our creativity depending on how we handle its effects.

For me, being under the spotlights actually helps me play at my best. For aspiring musicians, though, on-stage adrenaline can unsettle and even overwhelm.

Here, then, are 5 ways that rising performers can channel on-stage energy into creative power.

1. Breathe
When adrenaline surges, our breathing can become shallow and hurried. So, on stage, we should remember to inhale deeply into the abdomen and fully exhale. And if we feel edgy before a show, 2-to-1 breathing is a potent technique that quells nervousness and refocuses our energies.

2. Release
In tandem with breathing, it’s vital that we release tension and project easeful body language. As we exhale, for instance, we might let our shoulders widen and our spine lengthen. Such breathing and releasing can trigger profound effects, opening us to the performance experience.

3. Listen
Heightened listening activates our sense of purpose. During a performance, therefore, we should listen intently to ourselves and any coperformers. Then, immersing ourselves in the music, our nerves subside and creativity ignites.

4. Image Ahead
As we listen, we also have to sense where we’re going – we need to be fully present as we execute phrases and also sense upcoming ones. Such awareness, based on a foundation of deep practice, ensures our security and liberates our imagination.

5. Trust
Uninhibited performances are unlikely to occur unless we trust in our preparation. How do we build such trust? By preparing thoroughly, practicing performance techniques, and then using what we learn to better our artistry.

We don’t chase unattainable perfection. We understand that a life in music is about endless adventure and refinement.

For more strategies that ignite artistry in auditions, public performances, and recording sessions, see Part II of The Musician’s Way.

Related posts
The centered performer
Mental imaging
Confronting stage fright
Practicing performance
Projecting ease

© 2011 Gerald Klickstein

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