I will never forget singing in chapel when I was in college. If I try to envision an especially nerve-wracking experience…ding, ding, ding… this is where my memory goes! Let’s just say I’m glad I made it through the song, but I’m thinking it was super obvious that my nerves took over. By the way, it is extremely difficult to sing properly when nerves get in the way! Unnatural vibrato and choking are just some of the issues! Stage fright or nervousness is a huge hindrance to a musician, but it can be minimized.
Nervousness is a very normal part of performance. It happens to seasoned musicians and beginners. Dependence upon the Lord is the best medicine for a nervous performer! My first suggestion is to stop and say a prayer. I Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” It is easier to focus on ministering for the Lord in a church setting, but the Bible says to do everything for God’s glory, so that means all musical performances! If a musician is never nervous when performing, he/she is probably not depending on the Lord for strength, and that person probably struggles more with pride than nerves. However, things can get rather complicated in the heart, and sometimes nerves are due to pride. Asking the Lord for help with a performance will help take the focus off self and place it on Him! And asking Him for help when preparing for the performance isn’t a bad idea either!
Secondly, just prepare and be ready! I am most nervous in situations where I am not fully prepared. Practicing plays such a vital role in a musical performance. Believe me, no one just gets up and wings it all the time. Practicing requires time, effort, and much discipline. The discipline of practice is not always fun, but it is rewarding. Preparation is the key to success!
The third suggestion goes along with my second suggestion because it also deals with practicing. Practice time is an obvious necessity, but another idea is to practice performing for a small group. For example, if an elementary student has a piano recital coming up, the student can prepare for the recital by having a mini practice recital at home in front of family members or even during a piano lesson. Just thinking through the performance may remove some of those nervous jitters!
Fourthly, remember to breathe! Breathing is important before and during the performance. I have caught myself holding my breath due to nervousness when playing the piano! Not a good idea! Stretching, doing arm circles, and just a little movement can also help the body to relax and assist with breathing.
Lastly, remember to focus on the music and don’t get distracted with negative thoughts, frustrations, or worries. Fear of people and what others will say of your performance can cause stage fright, but just try to remember that most people are on your side, and they want you to do your very best! Focus on being a blessing to those for whom you are ministering or performing, and remember you are singing or playing your musical instrument for the glory of God and not the praise of man!