Dealing with Nerves
I can hardly believe it’s already audition season again! During this time last year, I had been bouncing across the country for over a month. Juilliard was my seventh and final audition, and by that point, I was honestly too tired to be nervous beforehand. Of course, it was a different story once I got to the school on the day of my audition; I don’t think I’ve ever felt so humbled, inspired, and intimidated all at the same time before.
Nerves are, simply put, really annoying. It’s hard to play your best when you feel insecure and scared. I used to get so nervous during performances that my fingers and lips would shake uncontrollably...and as a flute player, it makes playing nearly impossible! As performing artists, we’re probably going to spend our lives perpetually nervous, so it helps to at least start embracing instead of repressing your tendencies. Here are some tips on dealing with nerves to succeed in your next performance
1. Breathe slowly. You’ve heard this one over and over again, but it really does help! To bring your heart rate down and give yourself something to focus on, try taking full, deep breaths. Some people like to follow the 4-7-8 pattern (inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds). Do whatever works for you to calm down.
2. Know your tendencies. Everyone reacts differently to nerves and stress; some people tense up when they play, some people’s mouths get really dry, and some people (like me!) can’t stop shaking. Being aware of how you react in high-pressure performances helps you strategize to make your next performance go more smoothly. It also helps to talk to other people and find out their nervous tendencies and methods.
3. See performing in a new light! It helps so much to have a positive mindset to lower your nerves. Thinking to yourself, “I can’t wait to play this!” instead of “I’m so scared to play this” makes such a huge difference.
If you’re reading this and you have an upcoming Juilliard audition, the light at the end of the tunnel is approaching! You’ve worked so hard to get here, and you’re almost there. If this is one of your last auditions, stay strong and don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Best of luck--though you won’t need it!