Last Saturday at my lesson I was reminded that when I feel anxious, that anxiety transfers to my playing and can be heard by all. Even after 3 years of lessons, I still feel intimidated when I sit on the organ bench of a pipe organ at the beginning of a lesson. The pipe organ is much more grand and awesome than the old electronic instrument I practice on at home. And Michael (my teacher) is there too watching and listening ready to critique or give approval of my performance.
I began this lesson with the hymn “O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee” as I was confident in my ability to play it. What I didn’t consider was my anxiety level. It was uneven and rushed and wrong notes were played! This hymn should bring peace and my initial attempt was quite the opposite. After a few attempts, I calmed down and was able to play it successfully.Michael and I had the anxiety talk again. I should be relaxed from the start. How do we conquer anxiety?
In this video, “O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee”, is played by Frederick Swann.
At the 30 second mark of this video of the camera pans over the audience of several hundred. Just the thought of playing for this many people provokes anxiety.
With more practice and patience, I will gain confidence reducing the anxiety, at least that is what I am telling myself. The first step is making it through a lesson without anxiety.
Have you ever had to overcome public performance anxiety? How did you do it?