Cindy Says: Performance Anxiety? You’ve Got This!

Cindy Says: Performance Anxiety? You’ve Got This!

By Cindy Ripley on January 07, 2019

It's January, that time when the holiday dust settles and you are preparing kids for spring shows, auditions and awe-inspiring performances. These events nudge us toward a bigger challenge: preparing students to handle stage fright. You know the story - that rush of adrenalin that transforms itself into "butterflies in the tummy", sweaty palms and shaky knees?

As many of you pack for the pilgrimage to the 2019 Junior Theater Festival, here are some tools that may help.

• Acknowledge to your students that stage fright is normal and often part of the process.

• Practice, practice, practice! The better prepared students are, the more they can enjoy the actual experience of performing!

• Help performers relax physically. Try a sequence of body warmups and stretches. A gentle music background will relax their breathing naturally. Bach Prelude in F minor is my go-to!

• Have students record themselves in rehearsal, then sit, listen and watch the performance as an audience would.

• Encourage kids not to focus on what could go wrong…only on how much fun they can have. It doesn't matter that they forgot the lyrics if their character can cover it up convincingly!

• Give kids some tools for survival-wiggling toes in their shoes, breathing deeply from the bottom of the feet and up the spine to the top of the head and focusing on an inanimate object in the back of house as if it is their best friend.

• Your secret weapon is your sternum. Raise it and you appear fearless!

• If possible, keep parents separate from students at festivals and auditions. They tend to add their expectations and pressure.

• If your students will be entering into an audition situation with an adjudicator, sit behind a desk and write during the rehearsals. The more "real time" performance practice the students have, the less frightening the actual performance will be.

• Don't blow the importance of one performance out of proportion. Keep it positive!

The art of performing is a gift that keeps giving for a lifetime. Prepare your kids for it with TLC. See you in Atlanta or Sacramento and break a leg! CR

Read more Cindy Says.