EpISODE 36 The Jury (Stage Fright)

HOSTS- Jeremy Burns, Matthew Scott Phillips


TYPE- Special Topics




BUMPER MUSIC- "Approach The Bench" (Area 47 Music)

ANNOUNCER- Mike Cunliffe


In the school of music, we have the "Jury". This terrifying moment occurs at the end of the semester when the student must display their progress, on their instrument, in front of a panel of professors. During this brief moment, a number of "fight or flight' symptoms can manifest in the student. In the practical world, any musician (or anyone in the spotlight) may encounter this phenomenon. Welcome to stage fright! Let's try to understand it better and discuss some possible ways to manage it.


The music student, who is taking private instruction on their main instrument, must show their work to a panel of professors. This panel is otherwise known as "THE JURY". As the name implies, their work, their technique and their progress are all being observed and judged by a panel of masters in their art.

For a young musician this can be a scary thing.


The symptoms of stage fright are similar to your body's response to "life or death" situations.

Some of these symptoms include:


-Dramatic increases in heart rate and breathing


-Dry mouth and/or tight throat. A "lump in the throat"


-Uncontrollable trembling of the hands, knees, lips, and voice


-"Butterflies in the stomach", stomach problems


-Cold and sweaty palms and/or underarms


-Vision changes

STAGE FRIGHT and Performance Anxiety

-If you experience (or have experienced) stage fright, you are not alone. Practically anyone who has to stand out in a crowd or be the center of attention has encountered this. -Some people admit to fear being "in the spotlight" or "the center of attention" more than death! -An estimated 75% of people fear public speaking. 


The following list of recommendations was taken from an article, by Janet Esposito, MSW, on the official website of the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America).

1. Shift the focus from yourself and your fear to your true purpose—contributing something of value to your audience.


2. Stop scaring yourself with thoughts about what might go wrong. Instead, focus your attention on thoughts and images that are calming and reassuring.


3. Refuse to think thoughts that create self-doubt and low confidence.


4. Practice ways to calm and relax your mind and body, such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, yoga, and meditation.


5. Exercise, eat well, and practice other healthful lifestyle habits. Try to limit caffeine, sugar, and alcohol as much as possible.


6. Visualize your success: Always focus on your strength and ability to handle challenging situations.


7. Prepare your material in advance and read it aloud to hear your voice.


8. Make connections with your audience. Smile and greet people, thinking of them as friends rather than enemies.


9. Stand or sit in a self-assured, confident posture. Remain warm and open and make eye contact.


10. Give up trying to be perfect and know that it is OK to make mistakes. Be natural, be yourself.



The following technique was taken from an article, by Ruth Rootberg,

on the website, majoringinmusic.com.

-Take some time to just sit or lie, quieting any internal messages that distract you.


-Breathe in and out through your nose to warm, cleanse, and moisten the air.


-Do not manage your breath. Let the breath move freely. When at rest, there is a natural rhythm of breathing: the breath releases out, there is a tiny pause, and then the breath comes back in as you yield to the need for breath.


-Allow the jaw muscles to easily release so that the mouth drops open on the outgoing breath.


-Lightly close your lips as the breath comes in again.


-Continue the cycle: breathe out through the mouth, in through the nose.


-Think of something slightly funny.


-Let the sound of a whispered “ah” as in “father” release on the outgoing breath, as if you were steaming up a window.


-The tongue is lying relaxed on the floor of the mouth, with the tip lightly touching the back of the bottom teeth.


-Continue to recreate the thought of something slightly funny with each renewed breath. This thought does not have to produce a huge grin, but it may bring a twinkle to the eyes, a slight lifting around the cheek bones, and a springy elevation of the soft palate.


-While you are breathing, continue to quiet any distracting thoughts.


-After several cycles of the whispered “ah,” you might find your exhalation is longer. This is fine. In fact, this is a much better way to increase your capacity: focus on your outgoing breath rather than trying to take a huge incoming breath.


-Experiment with an easy transition from whisper to speech or singing.


-For the ADAA article on reducing stage fright, click HERE


-For the article on the "Alexander Method" click HERE


-To check out the "Musicality Podcast", where you can hear our interview (available on Jan 2, 2018), click HERE