August 11


Thinking Through Scary Things

Through most of college, I had pretty bad performance anxiety. Anxiety isn't even the right word for it. More like performance unpredictability.

Like, no matter what sort of mental preparation I went through...and no matter how thoroughly I practiced my music...I couldn't predict how my brain would respond to performing in front of an audience.

Sometimes I would shake, sometimes I would be short of breath, and most of the time I would be worried about what people thought of me afterward.

Don't get me wrong, I loved performing. I loved sharing my music. But it was like I couldn't control my brain. And that sucked.

Until I started thinking through the scary things.

Then, things started getting better.

When I would get nervous, it was because I was imagining worst-case scenarios. Or at least feeling the worst-case scenarios.

Something like...

If I perform poorly, then my colleagues will think less of me. I won't have a career to be proud of. Everyone will talk about how I crashed and burned on that studio class performance.

But thinking it through...I mean, really thinking it through....

Even if I crashed and burned. Even if I had a panic attack. Even if I missed half the notes...

It would make for a good laugh afterwards, and the audience probably wouldn't remember the next day. Or certainly, they would forgot by next week.

So why fret?

It didn't solve everything. But it helped a lot.

When you're afraid, think through the reality. Is it as bad as you thought it would be?

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About Jonathan Roberts

I am the founder and director of the South Shore Piano School, and I have been teaching the piano for nearly 20 years. My work centers around bringing music to the lives of kids, parents, and adults in an enriching, meaningful way. At the South Shore Piano School, my incredible colleagues and I accomplish this through skill-based teaching, community, and an innovative, people-first business model. You can read more about me here.


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