5 tips on beating music performance anxiety

ICMP tutor Leddra Chapman gives us her top tips on building confidence and overcoming anxiety...

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Performance anxiety can be a challenge for many music industry professionals.

But when it comes to overcoming it, there are numerous techniques that can be applied.

ICMP tutor Leddra Chapman gave a talk at our Research and Development Conference discussing performance anxiety and the challenges surrounding it. From her research with students, the concept of imposter syndrome is at its heart. This is where someone may feel that they are unworthy of praise or credit for success and instead feel almost like a fraud.

We were at Leddra’s talk to pick out five tips on how to deal with these issues and overcome performance anxiety…

Preparation: ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’

If you know you’ve done everything you can ahead of a performance - whether it be getting your gear ready or arriving at the venue in good time - then if something does goes wrong, it’s unlikely that you’ll feel guilt or any imposter syndrome.

No matter how anxious you are, you can only prepare so much. Sometimes things happen that are totally outside of your control.

Regulate your breathing

Remember to regulate your breathing ahead of taking to the stage. And don’t be afraid of pauses. They don’t make audiences feel uncomfortable. Former US president Barack Obama talked so slowly when giving speeches, he would leave a three to four second gap between every word.

‘Go to the deathbed’

When you take yourself to ‘the deathbed’ you look at things in a different perspective. Put yourself in that situation – on your deathbed, are you going to worry about messing up the chords or forgetting lyrics? It’s unlikely. Instead, you’ll probably be more inclined to think you should have worried less and enjoyed your experiences more.

NLP anchoring

NLP anchoring is a coping mechanism around reprograming yourself when it comes to suffering from nerves or overcoming anxieties. The various stages include:

  • Determine how you want to feel - eg more confident
  • Then relax and let a memory come to mind in which you felt naturally confident. This can be any memory when you were feeling confident, under any circumstances.
  • Choose a memory/anchoring device that involves touch - such as touching your thumb and forefinger together. 
  • Remember what you saw, heard and felt in your confident memory. Then put yourself into that memory as if reliving it. Relive the memory until you begin to feel the confidence coming over you.
  • Then activate your anchoring device once you feel that you need to be in a confident state of mind. This is your anchor.

Test the anchor by touching your thumb and forefinger together in exactly the same way again and find out if you naturally access that confident state. You should hopefully feel calm, confident and capable…  

Body language

Our non-verbal actions have a lot of influence on how we feel. So if I’m feeling confident I’ll make myself large - we do the opposite when feeling low. If you adopt these high-power poses, then hopefully your stress levels should drop ahead of potentially stressful situations.  

Visit Leddra's Facebook profile to find out more. 

Get in touch

If you're a current student and require support please get in touch with our Academic Support team on academic.support@icmp.ac.uk or reach out to your Programme Leader. 

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by ICMP staff writer
August 15, 2021
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