Back to Blog

There's More to it than Throwing Free Throws

performance anxiety Mar 05, 2024

I really enjoy talking about clichés as I imagine you've noticed, so here we go:

You miss every shot you don't take

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take

Life is inherently risky, there is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is doing nothing.

Don't fear failure, fear being in the exact same place next year.

Now here's the thing, I can hold on to the idea that those are true, but how do I reconcile those against any shame or anxiety I have about the act of trying. I started thinking about this a few days ago, and can't remember an instance where these items get placed together. As a musician engaging in the performative act, we have to find this place where we can try, and in fact enter into this emotionally charged and quite possibly unsafe environment - willingly. Whole-heartedly.

It's all still true. If you don't try, and you want to try, you'll miss. Every time. That too feels scary and risky. Not trying.

If you're at all like me, the impetus to try will always be ever so slightly stronger than the anxiety to avoid the fear. I have found that I can try by arming myself with two main elements:

My initial mental image: They want me to succeed. I shared that recently in a video, here's the link:

The second is one that you have to decide for yourself: incremental challenges. Find small steps forward to challenge yourself, and feel free to repeat challenges if you think you can learn more from doing them again.

I, however, would prefer a bit more, and this I have come to think of as a leap of faith. It is my attempt to take control out of the hands of others, and exercise trust in my own skills and abilities. This is where freedom comes in, but it's part of the practice that I laid out above. Like repeating challenges, you can go back to the idea that others want to see you do well, but at some point, you are the best judge of your performances. You know if you could do better, or if you're at your best.

At that point, look your saboteur in the eye and acknowledge them, politely thank them for their input, and get back to work. You're the one making the music after all.


Want to continue the conversation? Let's talk more in the RVC

Ready to hit those high notes? Learn in High Note Bootcamp!