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Performance can be, and should be, pure enjoyment. For Everyone.

Why is it that even the most skilled amateur musicians can find the concert stage so terrifying?

3 reasons, all easily overcome:

1) Tension in the technique

Playing music requires precise movements and normally we make precise movements using a lot of extra tension. Just think of trying to pass a piece of thread through the eye of a needle, untying a knot or fixing a cracked piece of glass with superglue. The whole system tenses up to create the intense focus and precise movement required for the job. This is okay if the we are mentally relaxed.

But under the stress of performance we have to be able to relax the body to overcome our anxiety. If we are using tension to achieve a result then relaxing is simply not an option. So we are stuck.

The problem of tension is particularly acute when playing a musical instrument as sports performance and even acting and public speaking do not require the same level of precision, so tension in the technique is not nearly as devastating.

2) Lack of practice

Music students can easily go a whole year without any opportunity to perform. When they do finally get the chance to play for others the stakes are often just too high: the summer school concert (terror!) or in front of a poker-faced examiner. Instead of practicing the joy of performing these just become traumatic experiences to reinforce the mistaken belief that "I am just not a performer"

Learning football you get the chance to practice actually performing (playing matches) almost every week during the season. Shouldn't we do the same for ourselves and our music students ?

3) Emotional inhibition

Playing music for others should be as joyful as all the other sharing we do in life: Just like telling a joke, sharing a story, dancing, catching up with an old friend. It is about human connection. Sharing yourself with the audience.

All we need to know is that what we are communicating is unique and as such that it has value, beyond the notes, the tone, the technique and all the technical distinctions we get so caught up in.

"You've got what you've got to say and thats it..."

- Claudio Arrau "The Lion of the Piano"

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