by Joanna Cazden –
Managing your audition anxiety is key to your audition success. You want to be at your peak of health, relaxation, and confidence when you stand on that stage. But your anxiety about the outcome can feel like an impossible obstacle.
Performance anxiety is normal. Professionals learn how to manage it, but it never fully goes away. So don’t interpret your fear as a sign that you have no talent, or don’t deserve to succeed.
Here are 6 tools that may help—things I’ve learned from my own performing life, from my training as a speech therapist, and from coaching and counseling students like you.
1. The #1 antidote to anxiety is being prepared. So practice! The moments before you perform are when you’ll be most nervous, so work that sequence just as you work your music. Rehearse walking in, what you’ll say to the faculty, and your cues for the accompanist.
Link these actions to breathing: exhale-pause-inhale before you enter, before you speak, and before you start your music. This breath sequence—and your attention to it—will help keep you calm.
2. When you’re bored or in a rut, change it up. Run your pieces too fast, then very slowly, with comic attitude one day and melodrama the next. Do them in crazy order with dance or calisthenics in between.
Plug in competing music at the same time. Wear a stupid hat. These variations help keep your interpretation fresh. More important, they prepare you to cope with the unexpected distractions—snowstorms, family crises—that could challenge your audition.
During the last week before auditions, just run the program straight so that you’re not confused when you need to be clear.
3. Mentally practice, as athletes do. Go through the audition in your mind, seeing and feeling yourself glide easily from front door through hardest arpeggio to final exit. This reinforces your skills and you can do it anywhere.
4. Practice facing your doubts. “But what if….?” fears are common. Don’t suppress them but don’t give in either. Especially avoid spinning into “what-if-I-can’t-avoid-my-nervousness” spirals.
Anxiety usually hides an equal amount of positive excitement. So welcome your fear as if it’s an animal that is secretly tame. Thank your ambitious energy for showing up, review your exhale-pause-inhale pattern a few times, and go back to work.
5. If you still feel overwhelmed by anxiety despite all of these efforts, talk to a counselor. There may be some other problem or worry that is intensifying your natural feelings about audition season. Keep practicing in the meantime.
6. Find a way to reward yourself for getting through each audition. Ritualize what comes after, to help manage the let-down from all that adrenaline. For instance: jot in a special notebook or app about what you learned from each experience, have a favorite snack, then get some exercise and lots of sleep before the next round of challenges.
Best of luck to you!