Saturday, November 28, 2015

     This morning, I will tutor a new student. I have not met her yet, so I’m not entirely sure of her needs, but she says, she gets very nervous speaking in front of a group. This is commonly known as “stage fright.”

    It is rather ironic that I should be tutoring someone about stage fright, as I am getting ready to perform in just a few days. Everyone who performs has stage fright. It’s like saying, get on your bike, but don’t worry about losing your balance. If you’ve ridden enough, you don’t even think about it, but the danger is always there. If you fall off your bike, however, you are the only one who gets hurt, and it is probable that no one will see it happen. If they did, they would rush to your side to help you. In performance, there is an audience. The fear is that the audience would laugh at you, make fun of you, look down on you, criticize you for the fall. In my case, if that happened, I would be very surprised, as my audience is hand-picked; the audience is made up of my good friends and acquaintances who support me. Nonetheless, one does worry about one’s image, reputation, ego. On the other hand, when performing part of my program for my husband last week, I was nervous enough to forget a very short passage. I am not nervous in front of him; I am nervous in front of me. It’s my own perfection that makes me nervous. It’s my own expectations that threaten a flawless performance. The word “flawless” is also unrealistic. If you are human, you will make mistakes, big or small, and the audience, believe it or not, will usually forgive much easier than you, the performer.

     In order to combat severe performance anxiety, Robin Williams took drugs. Renee Fleming had to be pushed on stage. Barbara Streisand, John Lennon and Adele all vomited before their performances. Tiger Woods, Bruce Willis, King George VI and Marilyn Monroe
were all stutterers who had to endure speech therapy in order to overcome their fears. Stage fright is a normal physical and psychological response to stress.

     There are ways to manage it, and these are the ones I will teach. All I have to do is practice what I preach. Simple, right?