Performing At Your Best
The topic areas of this chapter revolve around how musicians achieve and convey peak performances. How musicians use their bodies and their minds to perform at their best. The specific topics for this chapter are stage presence, performance anxiety, and performance health—issues often avoided in music schools and among professionals. Typically, vocalists in music schools are coached on their stage presence, but not instrumentalists. Most often, musicians think of stage presence as something you either have or you don't. As for how to deal with performance anxiety and performance injuries, these topics are often taboo. It may be fine to discuss these issues quietly with a trusted friend but not in public. It's unfortunate, because virtually all musicians deal with both performance anxiety and performance injuries at some point in their careers. It's high time to openly discuss these subjects, because so much can be done to help, with access to good information and resources.
How you present yourself is a big part of the audience's experience. It's part of why they're there—to see as well as hear you perform. In Stage Presence from Head to Toe author Karen Hagberg defines stage presence quite broadly, as the total “… visual aspect of a live performance: everything from a performer's walk, bow, facial expression, and dress, to an ensemble's portrayal of a single, unified entity; from the condition of the chair, music stands, and piano, to the mechanics of smooth stage management.”
In a way, we're all naked when we walk out on stage. How we feel about ourselves, the audience, and about performing is part of what we communicate in a performance. The audience picks this up loud and clear. We wear our emotions in the way we carry our bodies, in our walk, the direction of our gaze, and in our facial expression. Some people have a natural charisma and a charm that is communicated immediately in their everyday self, in their cur-