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Fearless Performance For Musicians

Jeff Nelsen is the guru of the Fearless Performance Seminars. "I am an empathetic fearful performer without my fearless performance tools," he admits.

horn in rehearsal

Photo: lyncaro7389 (flickr)

"I was fascinated with how I could hold the same horn, put the same music on the music stand, and have two entirely different performing experiences depending on who was in the room," explains Nelsen, creator of the Fearless Performance Seminars.

Constantly Overcoming Fear

One’s level of performance anxiety is inversely proportionate to one’s level of preparation.

Jeff Nelsen is the guru of the Fearless Performance Seminars. His Fearless concepts took shape in 1993 when he was training for his first professional audition. “I started Fearless Performance to help myself perform my best when it mattered most,” he explains. It paid off: Nelsen won his second audition that same year.

Nelsen developed his ideas out of a need for them. “I am an empathetic, fearful performer without my fearless performance tools,” he admits. “I’ve realized it was a choice to fear, and I’ve learned to choose better.”

Perception Is A Choice

Fearlessness is not necessarily the lack of fear. It’s the choice that there are things more important than fear.

“I was fascinated with how I could hold the same horn, put the same music on the music stand, and have two entirely different performing experiences, depending on who was in the room,” he says. He came to realize that these performance differences were all a matter of perception, and perception is a choice. “These realizations planted the initial idea seeds in me for Fearless Performance.”

Tips For Performers

Every performance is the culmination of the choices that have been made up to that moment.

1. Be prepared. In preparing for a performance, Nelsen recommends recording yourself, studying a score, and being focused during each practice session. “Doing good preparation is a massive thing that directly reduces one’s level of anxiety,” Nelsen adds.

2. Use an inspirational sheet. “You’re not going to make things much better in that ten-second walk to the stage. You can, however, make things much worse for yourself in those ten seconds,” Nelsen says. Reading inspirational sayings before walking on stage will elevate the player’s place of trust.

The two things I tell myself before every time I walk on stage [are] “Connect to this appreciative audience,” and “Share this wonderful music with this group of people who have worked hard all day, and want to relax and enjoy themselves.”

3. When you cross the magic line that separates backstage from the “sacred performance arena,” surrender to the idea the the performance will be the best you’ve given up to this point. “Go get better after the performance,” Nelsen adds.

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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