Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Joshua Smith on Performance Anxiety

Joshua Smith
Performance anxiety is a challenge for many instrumentalists.  Just how can one conquer their nerves?  Powell artist Joshua Smith, Principal Flute of The Cleveland Orchestra, addressed this issue in an interview on the Conversation page of his website.  When asked how he handles nervousness, Joshua answered with the following:

I don't think nervousness in performance ever really goes away. I hope it doesn't, actually, because I'm not sure I would perform with much interest or excitement without it ... Learning how to deal with nerves is what gets easier over time and with experience ... I think it's important to strive to find balance and perspective in one's approach to communicating and performing. How? Maybe start with asking basic (yet complex) questions, like "What am I doing here?," "What am I trying to say?," even "Why am I musician?" Answering questions like these brings perspective that helps to minimize the distractions that students (in fact, any of us) tend to feel about performance - doubts about ourselves, thoughts about who is listening to us, fears about living up to particular expectations ... Effort (trying to please, trying to do your best) often gets in the way ... Sometimes the most inspired performances seem to come when you withdraw your self and your fears and remember that the essence of what you're trying to communicate is the bottom line, the only thing that matters at the moment.

To hear more from Joshua, make sure to visit his website at

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