A couple years ago I had a blog on the ways to deal with performance anxiety. More years teaching have passed and I’d like to think I’m a little older and wiser (maybe ????) about this heated topic. The truth is that extreme stage fright usually comes from old wounds that have not healed around music and performance, and in order to really get past it, we need to address the hurts that triggered it in the first place.

I always say that my adult students can be some of the hardest to teach. Don’t get me wrong, I love a fast paced, information packed lesson where we can right to the crux of the issue without having to present it using games, toys and other revelry. Although playtime certainly has its perks, progress with adults is generally swift and lasting. They are self motivated (“learning to sing has always been on my bucket list”) and fully grasp the importance of consistent practice and focus during lessons (“I used to play piano as a kid, but I didn’t really take practice seriously, and now I’m ready.”)

But adults have one thing kids generally don’t have when it comes to music: baggage.

In lessons they hurl insults at themselves, use self deprecating humor, and even assume I am gritting my teeth, secretly judging them, just counting down the minutes until I can run out of their never to listen to their singing voice again! (“I know you must be thinking, ‘oh my god, what did I just get myself into’ you probably think ‘I can’t wait to get out of here!’ I wouldn’t blame you if you needed to cover your ears! I know I’m a lost cause.’”)

Meanwhile I was just about to tell them how awesome their breathing was going.

What’s the saying like? Something about “would you talk to your best friend that way?”

Be kind to yourself. Be loving to yourself and realize you are learning. Celebrate every little victory. In the next blog I will discuss how to heal the wounds causing stage fright and other emotional responses to music.