Performance Anxiety

by Cookie

I’m going to tell you a little secret.

I’m a musician who hates performing.  Just call me Barbra Streisand.  But God help me I do.

Last year, when I sang in this competition that I didn’t have a hope of winning at about 1000 months pregnant was the last time I actually enjoyed myself on stage.  Because I didn’t give a shit what people thought, and was able to let go of the anxiety and stress that usually accompanies the performance.  It was awesome.

I know what you’re thinking.  What the hell?  MOI?  Afraid of what people think?  Not usually, right?

But when it comes to having to step up in front of my colleagues, it gets really bad. This is when it’s the worst.  Not because I’m necessarily concerned about performing these easy pieces, but because I’m afraid of not doing a good job for my students.  Of someone thinking that maybe I don’t know what I’m doing after all.  And thanks to this mental distraction, I usually manage to screw at least something up every time. People can judge my playing all they want,  but I am fiercely protective of my skills as a teacher, and I don’t want someone to think that because I’m not  a symphony caliber musician ( which I totally am not, nor ever will be) that I am less a teacher.  Is that weird?

It bothers me a lot, because I really like what I do.  I love teaching. But I am one of those rare musicians who would rather hide in the four walls of their teaching studio and let their students be in the spotlight.

How noble, right?

A little, but mostly because I don’t trust myself enough to not fuck it up.

Yesterday we had the dress rehearsal for our program’s concert this weekend.  And right before my turn to lead, one of my strings pops out so bad that my peg goes flying.  Just in time to make me feel like a total douchebag.  Then I have to try and restring and retune and get up there in time to play this easy song with a thousand fucking notes to remember and all I can think of is “ugh everyone is watching me and I feel like a loser”.  And of course the string doesn’t hold its tune so I’m trying to compensate for my stupid string being flat. Easily the worst moment of my day, crying, clingy, non-sleeping baby notwithstanding.

Fuck. My.Life.

And the funniest thing is, in the classroom, I feel relaxed and happy and confident.  NO questions about who’s running that show.

But out there on the stage?

I want to throw up.


Anyway.  Glad to get that skeleton out of my closet.  Taking suggestions that don’t include alcohol or sedatives.  I need to be able to coordinate my left and right hands don’t forget.

Also, no picturing the audience naked.  These are children, for God’s sake!