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3 Ways To Calm Pre-Concert Jitters

It’s that time of year again. The semester is practically over, and both students and teachers are happily anticipating a much deserved winter break. By this time you’ve probably made your plans and have been feverishly practicing with your students on upcoming end-of-the-year concerts and other scheduled appearances. Your wonderful medleys and arrangement of holiday classics have been perfected and the only thing left is to conduct your actual performances.

However, nothing can ruin everyone’s hard work like an extreme case, or even mild attacks of pre-concert jitters. Performing for a live audience is no cake walk. It takes fortitude, discipline, and determination; and as a music instructor, you need to know practical ways to help your students overcome the natural nervousness that accompanies playing before friends, family, and a large group of strangers.

These tips can help you calm your students so that they will be able to show to advantage and be proud of their accomplishment.

1. Breathing Techniques.

Controlled breathing techniques are used the world over to reduce pain levels and lower the heart rate. Being jittery and anxious before a concert can cause your students to make unintentional mistakes, which can in turn lower their confidence. But, by teaching them some simple breathing techniques, you can help them maintain their Zen-like peace and put on a concert that sounds splendid.

  • First, have your students inhale for a count of four, and then exhale for a count of four. Have them repeat this exercise at least five times before moving on to the next step.
  • Next, have your students extend the count to seven. Inhale for a count of seven and exhale for that same length of time. The seven count should also be performed at least four to five times before moving on.
  • Students can extend the count and the length of the breathing exercise until they feel relaxed and ready to take their places on stage. But, this doesn’t usually take very long. Controlled breathing like this is not really a new concept for musicians (especially for brass and woodwinds), but it can help any type of performer reduce the stress and anxiety that is typical among students.
  • You can also enhance this exercise by having your students visualize their flawless performance—it really does work.

2. Instrument Emergency First-Aid Kit.

A broken bow, detached fingerboard, or other instrument calamity can exasperate already frazzled nerves and cause your students’ pre-concert jitters to explode. However, you can help maintain their calm by carrying an emergency first-aid kit for last-minute instrument repairs. Items like extra strings, various reeds, peg dope, and similar repair objects will be indispensable if a serious issue occurs with one of the instruments. Indeed, just having a repair kit at the ready will help ensure your players’ peace of mind and work to alleviate pre-concert jitters because your players will know that help is available if it’s needed.

3. Spend a few minutes with each player before the show.

Although there are always eight billion last-minute preparations to attend to with any concert, taking a few minutes with each student to encourage his or her ability can go a long way towards hedging off any jitters. A little extra reassurance and attention, especially for those students who are apt to magnify their faults and fears, heartens your students and shows them all that you care about their progress and success.

You’ve worked hard with your players to develop a program that will be enjoyable, but with just a little more preparation, you can help your students overcome any pre-concerts jitters too. By offering individual encouragement, employing effective breathing techniques that reduce stress and anxiety, and making sure that you have a necessary emergency repair kit available in case of an accident or problem, you’ll be able to maintain your students’ calm demeanor so that they will be able to play their best.

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