I vividly remember being 13 years old, and being asked to perform a song that I wrote, at a nursing home. Yes. A nursing home. I was volunteered by my mother to sing a song that I wrote for some of our family that we were in town to visit. I still remember the overwhelming sense of pressure that immediately rushed over me at the thought of singing something I MYSELF wrote.
What would people think? Would they wonder what it was about? What if my voice sounded bad? So, I took a deep breath and....instant tears. I immediately fled from the room. I was completely unsure of where the tears came from or why I was even crying. It's not like these people actually cared what I sounded like. Most of them loved me, even. It took so much time to recover from that. I felt like a complete failure.
After years of performing/ knees shaking behind curtains I have discovered that the key to performing is to honestly STOP putting so much pressure on yourself. Music and Art are meant to be enjoyed, felt, and appreciated. I have learned that putting too much pressure on myself can easily cause me to miss out on the joy of being in the present moment. Here are a few tips that can help you perform, and not only do your best, but enjoy every second of it.
Number One: Remember that it's not going to last forever. This is half of the battle. Understanding that the momentary discomfort you may feel will not last, is key. You are going to feel more confident after that first chord, that first chorus, so just keep going.
Number Two: No performance is the end of the world. So maybe your last performance didn't go as planned. This is fine. It happens to everyone. Don't let a let-down follow you to every new performance. Start over.
Number Three: Ignore the "stare at the back wall" advice. Make an effort to look at people before you even begin. Scan the room, smile at people, and understand they are people too.
Number Four: Remember why you do what you do. What was the reason you first decided to write? To sing? Only you know this reason fully. And so carry this reason with you every time you perform, it will be the thing that gets you through both the good times and the bad.
Sometimes it's still difficult to be confident when performing, it is for everyone. But hopefully these tips helped someone in some way :)