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Mendy Smith

The Death of Stage Fright

November 19, 2009 at 4:27 AM

 It's amazing how it actually happened.  For years I was in the "flight" mode.  Internal chatter took the stage front and center... what if I played a wrong note, missed a beat, come in late, and most of all - what will others think of me?  My bow arm would shake like a leaf, I made horrible intonation mistakes.  All my musical ability (such as it was) flew out the window the moment I stood on stage.  Then a turning point came in my life - overcome the flight instinct or lose a scholarship.  That day, fight won over flight.  At first I thought it was a temporary thing, but the more I played the less fright had a role to play in my music.

Fast forward to this evening.  It was just a rehearsal, with an audience of two.  Last time I rehearsed in front of two people (back in March preparing for the audition), I got the shakes.  But not tonight.  This time the opposite happened.  It was just me and the harpsichordist having a musical conversation.  My body dipped and peaked with the changes of the phrases naturally.   I completely forgot that I had an audience of two, present to criticize the music.  

When the piece came to an end, I was reminded that there were others in the room when the feedback began.  It came back predominantly positive.  There were some suggestions on dynamics to make a better balance between the two instruments in the hall, and an observation on a minor intonation issue.  But the feedback that made me leap for joy was a compliment on my baroque tone and style.  All those years of studying Bach paid off.  I "get" it now.  

I'm now looking forward to November 29th, the day I perform solo once again.  

From Heather Meisner
Posted on November 19, 2009 at 6:28 PM

Absolutely fantastic!  From this point onward you will be enjoying your music all the more, I'm sure of that.  Very cool.  Also, if you can bottle that stuff, please let me know - I'm still waiting for my fight moment, determined it will come:).

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on November 21, 2009 at 12:23 AM

Congratulations on overcoming your stage fright.  I'm sure your upcoming solo performance will be great.  Please tell us about it.

From Bhushan Dabir
Posted on November 23, 2009 at 5:48 AM

I am a student. I have been taking lessons for 2.5 years now. I have been trying hard to get over this "fright" of playing in front of any audience! To get used to the idea, I try and take every opportunity to play for friends and family. I haven't been able to get too far though. It is very disappointing. Any suggestions how I could get over this fear?

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