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  • Writer's pictureQueen Reed

OMG I am SO Stressed About This Upcoming Performance!!!!

So you have a big audition/performance/festival/concert/solo coming up and are feeling anxious and obsessive about it?

Remember these things:

You are so much more than this one performance.

And also, you are basically nothing. You’re a wee human on this big planet. In 500 million years, there will be no proof that any of us existed, let alone how good or bad we played this little black and silver creature.

The best thing you can do to prepare for any high-stress situation is to take care of yourself: eat good, sleep good, get some mental space from your work, and have a little fun out in the world, away from your music stand.

If you miss your big shot with this one audition/performance, another one - gazillions of them - WILL come around. Odds are, one of those opportunities is even better!

If you play way worse than you are capable of and you get rejected from that university/orchestra/festival/teacher, the rejection doesn’t change your ability level. You are still as good as you always were, and the people who said No to you are going to eventually discover your true awesomeness via word of mouth or when they see you/hear you somewhere else.

No one gets out of a lifetime of clarinet playing without embarrassing themselves at some point. And the only way to survive that is to separate your sense of self-worth from whatever noises come out of your barkystick. Read Are you getting Burned Out? Find Out How Passion Fuels Our Fire Or Burns Us Out and 3 Questions that Will Help You Fix Your Own Burn Out.

Finally, There is nothing you can’t bounce back from.

Let’s take this idea really far out there.

  • What if I humiliate myself in front of the Most Important Clarinetist In The World? If she/he is that amazing, they know all about nerves and bad performances. If you mess up horribly, they won’t think you aren’t capable, they will think you had a bad day -- which is probably exactly what happened. I guarantee they’ve had a day just like that too.

  • What if I humiliate myself again in front of all the Most Important Clarinetists In The World? Well I hope it was spectacular and I hope someone got it on video. If fame and recognition are what you were obsessively practicing for, the gods of Irony have spoken. Check YouTube for Music Fails and know that now you are in great company: Michael Tilson Thomas, Leonard Bernstein, Lady Gaga, Mr. Bean. Seriously, keep that video so you can laugh at yourself and start your YouTube channel. You’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

And for anyone whose general clarinet worries lean toward the morbid:

  • What if I lose a finger in a bagel accident?! No problem, Prosthetics these days are amazing! Get a plateau key for that tone hole, or take up the French horn, or trumpet, or trombone, or conductor’s baton! Plus, bionic finger?! - Congratulations, you are now the favorite aunt/uncle.

  • What if I lose all my fingers playing knife-dodgeball? Fine, become a music critic/blogger/composer and use voice dictation. I read the Headless Horseman and I would totally read a blog by the Fingerless Clarinetist.

  • What if my jaw is wired shut forever and I have a feeding tube because of rare virus that only attacks jaw muscles? See bagel accident, reduce options to conducting and strings.

I repeat, there’s nothing you can’t bounce back from.

And finally, the most important one:

The people who love you (and admire you) will still love (and admire) you no matter what.

Now go knock ‘em dead, you amazing thing, you.

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