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#115: How to Build Confidence in Music Performance: Techniques and Mindset Shifts

How to Build Confidence in Music Performance: Techniques and Mindset Shifts - Rebecca Reid Vocal Studio

Music is a language that transcends boundaries, a medium through which emotions, stories, and experiences find expression. Yet, for many musicians, stepping onto the stage or into the spotlight can evoke a whirlwind of emotions, chief among them: doubt and nervousness. This is where confidence becomes the silent conductor, guiding performances from mere renditions to captivating experiences.

Confidence in music performance is the invisible force that transforms a skilled musician into a mesmerising performer. It's the difference between playing the notes and captivating an audience, between technical precision and an emotionally resonant delivery.

Confidence empowers musicians to:

  • Connect with the Audience: It bridges the gap between the performer and the listener, creating a shared experience that transcends the music itself.

  • Express Emotions: It allows for a deeper, more authentic expression of the music, translating technical proficiency into heartfelt melodies that resonate.

  • Handle Challenges: It acts as a shield against the inevitable nerves and uncertainties that arise during performances, enabling musicians to navigate unexpected turns with poise.

In this blog post, we delve into a treasure trove of techniques and mindset shifts tailored to fortify confidence in music performance. It's not just about hitting the right notes or mastering the instrument; it's about the mental fortitude and emotional resilience that pave the way for an unforgettable performance.

We'll explore how various strategies, ranging from meticulous preparation to embracing imperfections, can serve as cornerstones for enhancing confidence on stage. From mindfulness exercises to empowering self-talk, these techniques, and mindset shifts are not just for the virtuosos but for any musician seeking to improve their performance.

So, join us on this journey as we unravel the secrets behind building unshakable confidence in music performance. It's time to turn the stage from a daunting platform into a space for self-expression and musical storytelling.


Understanding Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety, often referred to as stage fright, is a natural response triggered by the anticipation of performing in front of an audience and a prevalent challenge faced by musicians, stemming from various sources and manifesting in diverse ways.

Common manifestations include:

  • Physical Symptoms: Performance anxiety can induce physical symptoms such as trembling, sweating, increased heart rate, shallow breathing, and muscle tension. These physiological responses can directly impact a musician's ability to perform optimally.

  • Impaired Cognitive Function: Anxiety can disrupt concentration, leading to memory lapses, difficulty focusing, and a decline in the ability to execute complex musical passages.

  • Emotional Distress: Anxiety can trigger feelings of fear, self-doubt, and a sense of being overwhelmed, hindering the musician's capacity to express emotions authentically through their performance.

  • Behavioural Reactions: Avoidance of performances, difficulty concentrating, or even freezing on stage.

Understanding its origins and its impact on musical performances is important in addressing and managing this common phenomenon.

The Impact on Musical Performance

The impact of performance anxiety on musical performance can be profound. Despite hours of practice and preparation, anxiety can hinder a musician’s ability to deliver their best. It might affect technical proficiency, expression, and overall stage presence, leading to a disconnect between the performer and the music, and between the performer and the audience.

Effects on performance may include:

  • Impaired Technique: Muscles tensing up can lead to technical errors, affecting the fluidity of singing or playing.

  • Emotional Barrier: Anxiety can create a barrier, hindering the musician's ability to convey emotions effectively.

  • Audience Disconnect: It may inhibit the connection between the performer and the audience, impacting the overall experience.

Exploring the Root Causes of Performance Anxiety in Musicians

  • Fear of Judgement: Musicians often grapple with the fear of being evaluated or critiqued by their audience, peers, or even their own inner critic. This fear can be amplified by the pressure to meet perceived standards of excellence.

  • Perfectionism: Striving for flawless execution can lead to heightened anxiety. The pressure to deliver a flawless performance every time can create an overwhelming sense of stress.

  • Past Traumatic Experiences: Previous negative performances, critiques, or embarrassing moments on stage can linger in a musician's psyche, contributing to anxiety during future performances.

  • High Stakes Performances: Important events, competitions, or auditions can intensify anxiety due to increased pressure to excel.

Normalising Performance Anxiety

It's crucial to understand that experiencing performance anxiety is not a sign of weakness or lack of talent. In fact, it's an acknowledgment of the importance and significance of the performance itself. Normalising this experience is the first step towards managing and overcoming it.


  • It's Common: Virtually every performer, from renowned artists to local talents, has experienced performance anxiety at some point.

  • It's Manageable: With the right techniques and mindset, performance anxiety can be channelled into positive energy.

  • It's Not Indicative of Skill: Anxiety doesn't diminish your skill or talent; it's a natural reaction to the pressure of performance.

By acknowledging and accepting performance anxiety as a natural part of the process, musicians can begin to explore strategies to mitigate its effects and harness its energy to enhance their performances.


Techniques for Building Confidence

Importance of Practice and rehearsal

Practice isn’t merely about mastering the notes; it’s about ingraining confidence in every fibre of your performance. Each hour spending practising or rehearsing is an investment in self-assurance. Repetition builds familiarity and comfort with the music, allowing for a more confident performance.

Here are some Tips for Effective Preparation:

  • Structured Practice: Break down challenging sections and focus on them systematically.

  • Variety in Practice: Experiment with different tempos, dynamics, and interpretations to expand your comfort zone.

  • Mock Performances: Mimic the performance setting during rehearsals to acclimate yourself to the stage environment.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

  1. Breathing Exercises: Deep, controlled breathing is a powerful tool to calm nerves. Practise diaphragmatic breathing techniques, inhaling deeply through your nose, holding for a few seconds, and exhaling slowly through your mouth.

  2. Visualisation and Mental Rehearsal: Visualise yourself on stage, executing a flawless performance. Imagine the sights, sounds, and emotions you'll experience. This mental rehearsal primes your mind for success and builds familiarity with the performance space. This is a popular technique used by top athletes!

  3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Progressive muscle relaxation involves systematically tensing and relaxing different muscle groups. Start from your toes and work your way up, releasing tension and promoting a sense of calmness.

Embracing Nervous Energy

  1. Reframing Nervousness as Excitement: Shift your perspective on nervousness; view it as a surge of excitement rather than anxiety. Embrace the adrenaline rush as fuel for an electrifying performance.

  2. Channelling Adrenaline into Performance Energy: Rather than trying to suppress nervous energy, redirect it. Move dynamically on stage, utilising the adrenaline to enhance your presence and expressiveness. Embrace the heightened emotions and let them infuse passion into your performance.

By integrating these techniques into your preparation routine, you're not just honing your musical skills; you're cultivating a resilient mindset that breeds confidence. These practices empower musicians to approach the stage with a sense of readiness and composure, transforming nerves into a source of strength.


Mindset Shifts for Enhanced Confidence

Self-Talk and Positive Affirmations

  1. Changing Negative Self-Talk: The conversations we have with ourselves greatly influence our confidence. Recognise and challenge negative self-talk, those inner voices that undermine your abilities. Replace self-limiting beliefs with empowering statements.

  2. Using Affirmations for Confidence: Craft positive affirmations tailored to boost your confidence. Phrases like "I am prepared and capable" or "My passion shines through my music" reinforce a positive mindset and help counteract doubts.

Embracing Imperfection

  1. Understanding That Mistakes Are Part of the Process: Mistakes are not signs of failure but stepping stones toward mastery. Every great musician has stumbled during performances. Embrace these moments as opportunities for growth rather than setbacks.

  2. Learning from Imperfections to Grow as a Performer: Reflect on mistakes without self-judgement. Analyse what went wrong, learn from it, and use that knowledge to refine your performance. This resilience and adaptability foster a stronger, more confident performer.

Fostering a Growth Mindset

  1. Embracing Challenges and Setbacks: See challenges as avenues for growth rather than obstacles. Embrace difficult pieces or performance situations as opportunities to expand your skill set and resilience.

  2. Believing in the Ability to Improve with Effort: Cultivate the belief that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Embrace the journey of continuous improvement, understanding that effort leads to progress and ultimately, confidence.

Shifting your mindset isn't just about positive thinking; it's about adopting a perspective that empowers and nurtures your growth as a musician. These mindset shifts pave the way for a more resilient and confident performer, one who approaches each performance with a sense of self-assurance and a willingness to learn and evolve.


Overcoming Setbacks and Rebuilding Confidence

Coping Strategies for Performance Mishaps or Setbacks

  1. Immediate Reflection, Not Dwelling: After a disappointing performance, take a moment for immediate reflection, acknowledging emotions without dwelling on them. Identify what went wrong objectively and take note of areas for improvement without self-criticism.

  2. Reframing the Experience: Reframe setbacks as learning opportunities. Rather than defining your abilities by a single performance, see it as a step in your journey. Embrace the chance to grow and evolve as a performer.

  3. Seeking Constructive Feedback: Request feedback from trusted mentors, teachers, or peers. Constructive criticism can provide insights and guidance for improvement, bolstering your confidence with actionable steps.

Techniques to Regain Confidence After a Disappointing Performance

  1. Positive Reinforcement: Focus on past successes and positive experiences. Remind yourself of performances where you excelled, reinforcing the belief in your capabilities and reminding yourself that one performance doesn't define you.

  2. Incremental Goal Setting: Set small, achievable goals for future performances. Breaking down larger goals into manageable tasks can rebuild confidence gradually, showing tangible progress along the way.

  3. Visualisation and Mental Rehearsal: Visualise successful future performances. Picture yourself on stage, delivering a flawless rendition. This mental rehearsal primes your mind for success, reinstating confidence in your abilities.

  4. Return to the Basics: Revisit foundational practices. Spend time reconnecting with your instrument or voice through exercises that remind you of your strengths and help rebuild confidence in your technical abilities.

  5. Embrace Support Networks: Lean on your support network. Seek encouragement from friends, family, or fellow musicians who understand the challenges of performance. Their support can reignite your confidence.

Remember, setbacks are not roadblocks; they're detours on your journey to mastery. Each setback offers invaluable lessons and opportunities for growth. Rebuilding confidence isn't about erasing the memory of disappointment but rather using it as a catalyst for improvement and renewed determination.


In the pursuit of musical excellence, confidence emerges as a silent but indispensable ally. Throughout this exploration, we've unveiled an array of techniques and mindset shifts designed to fortify confidence in music performance.

Now, armed with these strategies, it's time to bridge the gap between knowledge and action. Apply these techniques not just in moments of performance but in every step of your musical journey.

Practice, mindfulness, and mindset shifts aren't mere concepts; they're tools.

Use them before stepping onto the stage, during rehearsals, and even in your daily life. Integrate them into your routine to nurture a resilient and confident approach to music performance.

Remember, building confidence is an ongoing journey rather than a destination. Each performance, each setback, and every moment of growth contributes to your evolution as a musician.

Embrace the journey with open arms, knowing that every step forward, regardless of size, enhances your confidence and shapes you into a more compelling performer.

As you navigate this path, be patient and compassionate with yourself. Celebrate victories, learn from challenges, and continue refining your craft with an unwavering belief in your ability to captivate audiences with your music.

Now, it's time. Step onto the stage not as a musician plagued by doubt but as a confident performer armed with techniques, fortified by a resilient mindset, and fuelled by the passion for music.

Let your confidence resonate through each note, each melody, and each expression, creating an unforgettable experience for both yourself and your audience.

It's your time to shine, and with the right strategies in hand, your musical journey is poised for remarkable performances ahead.

Found this blog post helpful? Give it a like, share it with your friends, and leave a comment below to let me know how it benefited you!

* Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional or medical advice. Singers and professional voice users should always consult with qualified professionals, such as singing teachers or medical practitioners before making any decisions or taking any actions related to their vocal health and wellbeing.


Further Reading

If you enjoyed reading this post, here are some other blog posts you might find interesting:

Unlock your stage presence! Proven techniques & mindset shifts to boost confidence in music performance. #RebeccaReidVocalStudio #MusicianTips #PerformanceConfidence

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