Learning to Utilize and Benefit from Performance Anxiety

Weekly Teaching Tip – Nov. 11, 2013
Tricia Grey, MM

This was posted on my blog at https://www.singlikeastar.com/blog.html on Sept 30.

The title of this blog may seem laugh-worthy to some. Performance anxiety is a real problem for so many and no laughing matter. It can hinder a performance and restrict a person’s true talents to a highly discouraging level. Getting rid of it is seemingly impossible to the many who suffer from it, and to those, actually using it to better your performance seems even crazier!

If you’re one of those performers who are consistently held back from your true potential because of performance anxiety, Dr. Noa Kageyama was just like you. While his career accomplishments were and still are extremely impressive, at a young age he found it frustrating that he could at one point sound so amazing in rehearsal, yet sound so far from what he knew he was capable of in the proceeding performance.

Dr. Kageyama was introduced to a class while attending Julliard. Taught by Olympic sport psychologist, Dr. Don Greene, “Performance Enhancement for Musicians” amazingly not only changed the way he performed, but the way Dr. Kageyama felt about performing and his entire musical approach to it.

The technique is called centering, and once you have effectively mastered it, it can be used to amp up your performance as you may have previously thought impossible. The key is switching your brain function from left-brain fear, self-criticism and worry to the calm and focus of the right brain. Once you are able to alter your way of thinking, you will be able to channel the anxiety toward focus, energy and your true performance capabilities. Here are the seven steps to channeling as laid out by Dr. Kageyama:

1.) Pick Your Focal Point: This can be a point anywhere below eyelevel. Your focal point is used to minimize distractions.
2.) Form Your Clear Intention: Define a clear goal that you are going to reach through this performance. The goal should be positive, use assertive language and should not include the word “don’t.”
3.) Breathe Mindfully: Breathing through the diaphragm (versus breathing from the chest) is one of the most effective stress eliminators.
4.) Scan and Release Excess Tension: Dr. Kageyama suggests quietly breathing slowly and scanning your body for tense muscles. As negative thoughts take over our mind, stress is released throughout our body and muscles begin to tense. Use the technique in this YouTube video to release that tension.
5.) Find Your Center: Much like the process of meditation, finding your center is the action of searching within to find where your energy gathers. It is a feeling of great calmness and reassurance.
6.) Repeat Your Process Cue: In this step, use a visualization technique to imagine yourself performing exactly as you would like to be.
7.) Direct Your Energy: As you should be relaxed and focused upon reaching this step it is time to utilize the once nervous energy you had developed toward an inspired performance where you are centered with focus and confidence.

To learn more about finding your center and utilizing your performance anxiety toward a successful performance, check out Dr. Noa Kageyama’s blog here: https://www.bulletproofmusician.com/how-to-make-performance-anxiety-an-asset-instead-of-a-liability/.


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