“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearances, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is, we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convicinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. WE ARE IN CHARGE OF OUR ATTITUDES.”
How do you get over the fear of playing your flute in front of others? Just do it. Play in front of others as often as you can. Yes, there are a bunch of performance preparation tips but this blog post is mostly about simply getting yourself in front of others.
As a teacher, I try to provide performing opportunities for my students on a regular basis. If you don’t take private lessons from someone who provides these types of opportunities, create your own. Volunteer to play in church, or for a social event, or at an assisted living center, or let your community choir director know you are available to play a flute obbligato if they need one.
When my children were younger (and at home more often), sometimes I’d bring them in the living room where I taught flute lessons and made them sit on the couch and be an audience for my students. Believe me, my kids were attending recitals and concerts as soon as I’d allow. They learned to be exceptional audience members from a very young age. If nothing else, set up your favorite teddy bear or pictures of others on your couch and have them be your fake audience.
When you are preparing for a bigger audition or performance, visualize the performance in your mind while you are practicing at home in your living room or bedroom, or wherever you practice. Imagine the setting you might be in. Then “practice performing” in your mind.
Then when you get to your performance, try visualizing your “comfort zone” of being in your living room or your bedroom or wherever you practice. Let that “comfort zone” help calm your nerves. Above all, don’t freak yourself out before you even get there. (Not that any of you would ever do that.) Yes, sometimes judges or a room full of audience members can be intimidating, but for the most part, I truly believe that they are there to support you and if a judge, help you improve and offer constructive criticism.
If you really want the practice before a critical performance or audition, play in front of others in 10 different settings. That’s right, T-E-N, 10 different settings. Ask your neighbors, friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends of friends, anyone. Tell them you need to practice performing and ask if you can come play your pieces for them at THEIR house. This way you are in a different setting with different lighting and different acoustics and you can practice performing. I can’t imagine that people would turn you down. But if they do, who cares. Ask someone else. Performing gets easier with practice and with time as you gain more experience.
So play, and play, and play in front of others! Then play your flute some more!!