music4brains

mental training with music

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On stage

Stage fright and discomfort at performances

Making an announcement, giving a speech, moderating something, presenting something, giving a lecture, giving a concert as a singer or a musician — that is a difficult challenge for many. Some people even find it difficult to talk to a few persons. Even some professional musicians and famous artists struggle with their stage fright. In their distress, they sometimes seek help with drugs or alcohol. But if this finally succeeds in entering the stage, the performance is also impaired by such 'aids': the artist is not in his full power, and it is questionable whether he (or she) can meet the expectations of the fans. 

In upcoming larger or smaller appearances, various physical side effects (sweating, tremors, palpitations, abdominal pain ...) may occur and make the challenge even more difficult. But the real problem is located ‚between the ears‘: stage fright is emotional stress. Audiences or party guests are usually not a real threat. 

A bit of tension is quite helpful: it makes you focus on your task. But it gets problematic if you are seriously blocked and find yourself in high arousal. Mental training with music can help you to overcome the obstruction and prepare for the challenge.


The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius. (Oscar Wilde)


Mental Training: Preparation for an upcoming performance

Start the training when the upcoming challenge is still ahead of you. First, use the emotions scale to estimate how uncomfortable the challenge feels for you when you think of it. Start the music, listen with headphones and spend two to three minutes doing other things. This can be any easy automated activity, a look out the window, or something neutral. Then think of your problem while the music continues.


Option A: Think of an experience

Remember a situation in which the problem occurred. Put yourself mentally into the situation.  Watch who and what surrounds you. Listen to what's happening around you, including your voice and sounds. Feel the temperature, the air, the ground you’re standing or sitting on. How does it smell there? Be aware of your unpleasant emotions. Do you feel physical effects? While the music continues, remain mentally in the situation. If the feeling changes you can reevaluate it. Is there a new value on the scale?


Option B: Imagine the upcoming situation

Imagine the event beginning. You’re starting your task. Watch everything surrounding you. Listen to what's happening around you, including your voice sounds. Feel the temperature, the air, the ground you’re standing or sitting on. How does it smell there? Be aware of your unpleasant emotions. Do you feel physical effects? While the music continues, remain mentally in the situation. If the feeling changes you can reevaluate it. Is there a new value on the scale?


Repeat the training a few times (for instance on the following days). You can let your mind play with the sight of the audience: Drain out the color, then make the black and white audience smaller by pushing it away from you. Keep exercising until your rating is down to -1 or 0 on the scale.


Complete the training (preferably on the day of the event or immediately before it) by imagining how you will master your challenge. Visualize this while listening to the training music. You witness yourself and hear yourself (as if watching a movie), accomplishing your task. Also, perceive the reaction of the audience and notice the general atmosphere. Stay in this observer position for a while and then terminate the mental training.

Now you can face your challenge.