All of the hours preparing for a performance can mean little to nothing if a person gets performance anxiety and does not execute the piece they have been practicing. Most people in one way or another experience performance anxiety at some point in their life. Wouldn't it be nice to just be able to focus on doing your best rather than worrying about the worst possible outcomes? Below I have listed five tips I have found useful to help overcome performance anxiety.
1 - Play it in front of a small audience (friends or family)
This will give you some anxiety most likely playing it in front of a small audience, but it will really pay off when you have to play it for the real performance.
2 - Redirect Your Attention and Thoughts
This one is my personal favorite. The more time you spend worrying the worse your anxiety will become, and for me I will even get mad that I am worrying so much, which will make me worry even more (Worry about worrying). Personally, I like to direct my attention towards how I can do well. I rehearse in my mind a good performance. Another good thought you could redirect your attention towards is how much your audience will enjoy your performance.
3 - Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!
The more times you do it successfully in the practice room the more confidence you will have when you play it in front of people. Practice your piece at slow tempos and fast tempos.
4 - Just Breathe
This one may sound simple and obvious, but when people are feeling a little anxious they tend to shorten their breath. If someone practices taking in larger and higher quality breaths before their performance their brain will have more oxygen and will naturally settle down. I was resilient to try this one, but once I made a conscious effort to do this and it really paid off and lowered my performance anxiety considerably.
5 - Limit Caffeine Before Performing
Yes, you want to have a lot of energy when you are performing, but you naturally will get this energy, because of your nerves. Adding caffeine will only make your heart beat faster, and it may seem like your anxiety is worse than it should be.
I hope some of these tips are useful!