Does just thinking about that audition coming up get your heart racing? Here are some practical steps (besides lots of practice!) that will keep you in the Zone to ensure that you will do your best. First of all, realize that you do need a dose of anxiety to provide pizzazz to your performance and lift it above your daily practice.
- Way before the audition date, learn basic relaxation skills that will help you manage stress. You might try yoga or meditation or something as simple as loading your phone with music that calms you.
- Even easier and more basic, learn to breathe deeply and slowly. When you are too nervous, you breathe more shallowly. This is counterproductive to the strong breath you need for a rich, deep tone or to hold long notes, or even to introduce your piece and project your voice. Exhale fully and hold it a short time before starting the inhale. Hold it again before the exhale, making the exhalation slightly longer than the inhalation. As you exhale into deeper relaxation with each breath, say “Peace” to yourself.
- Mentally rehearse each passage of your piece. Olympic athletes imagine themselves going through each motion that will bring them over the finish line and see their arms raised in glory.
- Mentally rehearse your stage presence. See yourself taking nice deep breaths before walking on stage, taking a few moments to gather yourself and breath before greeting the faculty and then signaling to the pianist.
- Carry yourself as if you are the chosen performer. “Fake it till you make it!” Watch Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on Power Poses. Changing your posture doesn’t just make you feel and look more confident, but it gives you a surge of hormones to make it true!
- Allow plenty of time to park, find the room, go to the bathroom and do your self-soothing techniques. Nothing worse than getting stuck in traffic and rushing to your appointment.
- Take time to eat! Keep your blood sugar levels stable by having some protein. Don’t just grab a quick pastry. Anxiety is lot worse with blood sugar crashes.
- Sleep! Get to bed early enough that even if you spend some time tossing and turning, you sleep as much as possible. Use your deep breathing skills to drift off and get restored for the next day.
- Limit caffeine. This is not the time to go “cold turkey” on your morning cup of coffee, but don’t overdo it. Limit the ice tea and caffeinated sodas, too.
- Dress comfortably. Yes, you want to look like a successful performer, that’s part of “faking it till you make it”, but it’s not the time to squeeze into something a little tight, or wear a complicated accessory that might slip off, or shoes that hurt your feet.
And finally, say a little mantra to yourself as you begin, like 16-year-old gymnast Laurie Hernandez did, right before winning the gold in Rio, “I’ve got this!” and know that you really do!
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