Conquer Performance Anxiety - Part 1: Three Tips & the Importance of Self-Talk

How do you deal with performance nerves?

What do you do when you feel a general anxiety when you're about to perform?

What are immediate, short-term solutions as well as long-term strategies that help you deal with performance anxiety and combat the general nerves that come before you're about to perform?


I teach dedicated classes in my Violin Bootcamps on the subject of Conquering Performance Anxiety addressing performance nerves, stage fright, and how to achieve peak performance.

Much of what I preach and practice myself comes from my personal experiences taking orchestral auditions over two decades, my private training with peak performance psychologist, Dr. Don Greene, as well as my martial arts training in the karate Dojo.

Watch my quick #violynntip video in which I describe the importance of self-talk in dealing with performance anxiety: 




1. Get *comfortable* with feeling *uncomfortable*.

Understand that conquering performance anxiety isn’t about not feeling nervous. (You still feel adrenaline/"nerves"!)

Performing under pressure will always feel a little uncomfortable and as performance psychologist Dr. Don Greene shared with me in a private coaching session, it's a matter of accepting this fact.

If you don't want to ever feel nervous when performing, then please "stay at home on the couch and be comfortable with your bunny slippers on". (Thanks, Dr. Greene for the potent words and lasting advice! 😅)

Embrace the discomfort and walk out knowing that butterflies (adrenaline) and nerves are normal and are part of the performance experience. This extra shot of energy can be used to your advantage and focussed into your performance. 

Musicians performing onstage - Image by Wan San Yip

Image by Wan San Yip


2. Monitor your self-talk.

What do you say to yourself on a daily basis?

Does your self-talk empower you or does it increase your fear?

Our daily thoughts have the power to fill our confidence tank and decrease our anxiety and sense of fear or dread.

Do you weed out micro-thoughts that are causing confidence to drain out of your tank?

Are you choosing to fill your life and mind with self-affirming, positive, and encouraging words?

Monitor your thoughts in a journal for 24 hours and record any thoughts you observe that serve to drain your sense of confidence, self-efficacy, and positivity.

I've done this exercise myself and it is very enlightening! 

Remember: a positive mindset is a winning mindset!


Image by Kelly Sikkema

3. Just jump in.

Don’t give yourself time to (over)-think.

Over-thinking will only serve to activate your left-brain analyzing, calculating, critiquing, and assessing - all functions that are not helpful for when you need to stay in the moment and access your creative right-brain for performance mode.

A technique I use to avoid over-thinking before I step out into the audition room or into a performance is to give myself an imaginary "ramp" to jump on.

Once I'm on it, there's no turning back or reversing directions.

I also think of it as jumping into a swimming pool.

I don't think. I just jump.

Dog jumping into swimming pool - Image by Katrin B.

Image by Katrin B.


In practical terms for musicians (taking an audition, for example), I imagine the music several bars before my entry and then me literally jumping in. (Practicing with a recording is a good way to practice this.)

Or, I may visualize the orchestra conductor leading me into the excerpt. 

In both of these examples, I give myself no time to hesitate or second-guess myself.

I simply hear the music leading up onto my imaginary ramp, breathe deeply and... jump in.


Lynn Kuo performing with orchestra - Image by Laurie Zabolotny

 Photo by Laurie Zabolotny


What are your most powerful tips for beating performance anxiety?
Please share in the comments!

 Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of this three-part series

Conquering Performance Anxiety.

In the meantime, click on the image below to watch a free preview of my Conquering Performance Anxiety course, an excerpt of what I teach my students in my Violin Bootcamps.


Conquering Performance Anxiety - course preview | Lynn Kuo, Violin with Dr. Lynn

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