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Clayton Haslop

What My Daughter Had to Say About Nerves

May 19, 2010 at 6:44 PM

    Tonight is a pretty big night for Clara, my soon to be 8-year-old daughter.  At 6:30 she and her classmates will take the stage at Desert Star School in Cornville Arizona to perform a play based on the life of Santa Lucia.

And you-know-who will play the part of Santa Lucia.

She doesn’t have any spoken lines, though.  The closest she will get to that is singing a song with two other kids whilst standing front and center stage before the audience.

Yesterday the classes at the school performed their plays for each other, as a dress rehearsal for tonight.

Yet this was enough to get the butterflies fluttering in her little tummy. 

Funny, not knowing the word ‘nervous’, she described what she felt on stage as ‘feeling embarrassed’. 

On second thought, however, maybe this isn’t such a funny way of expressing it.

After all, many of us pass judgment on ourselves before we’ve played a note in performance, so the feeling of embarrassment may indeed be the substance of our nerves.

Anyway, I asked her what she did, if anything, that helped the feeling of ‘embarrassment’ pass.  She thought for a moment, and said, ‘I thought about what I needed to do.’

I think she hit the nail on the head there.

After all, what else ARE we to do? 

When it’s all said and done, the best thing you can do for nerves is to fill your mind with intentions of just exactly what you are going to do at specific points in time.

Remember, performances take place over time; and thank goodness for that.  If we had to hold in our immediate consciousness every single intention – and there could be hundreds in the course of a concerto – that goes into a successful performance, we’d be completely overwhelmed.

The trick is to have them on a time line, where one flows right into the next; it’s like having a rail for your performance to roll on.

The point of practice is to put all the intentions on the time line exactly where you know you’ll need them – AND to train your fingers, hands and arms to serve them, of course.

Yet walking out on stage you need keep only a handful or so in mind.  Just enough to ‘get you on track’ for the performance you’ve prepared.

Now, if breathing is part of your practice – and well it should be, then making it ONE of the intentions active when you take the stage is an excellent idea.

If you know that pushing your right hand away from your body in a certain way produces a beautiful tone, then it might be another intention to hold right at the get-go. 

Certainly a few bars of the music should be part of the mix.

Now as for Clara, at this point an untrained singer and a novice actress, merely focusing on the words and melody of her song as she takes her place should put her right where she needs to be tonight. 

And I’ll be there enjoying every minute of it, to be sure.

All the Best,

Clayton Haslop

From Laurie Niles
Posted on May 19, 2010 at 10:10 PM

Wishing her a fun performance tonight, enjoy!

From Lex Carter
Posted on May 20, 2010 at 7:59 PM

 Nerves scared the hell out of me when I was doing a sport, at first. I did badly at some important competitions at first because of them. I learned over time though, that nerves will make you perform better. I learned to welcome them. 

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