Emotional Freedom Technique for Performance Anxiety
I’ve always been a natural at playing the flute. I am so blessed because I’ve been trained classically so I read music well and I also play by ear. Usually if I’ve heard a piece of music, I can play it. My mind works in very interesting ways because often I won’t be able to tell you the name of what a song is, or who wrote it, but I’ll be able to play it. I think that comes with a strong, artistic right brain and lazy left brain when it comes to memorizing names of musical pieces.
I started performing and doing solos when I was very young. In high school I played first chair flute in a youth symphony and as a senior I presented a full-length recital of my own – just me with a piano accompanyist. I wasn’t very concerned or scared – even though I had memorized all of the pieces that I played. It just seemed like the thing to do.
I entered Indiana University School of Music the summer before my senior year in high school. I auditioned and placed first chair out of about twenty in the summer concert band. They didn’t let me play all of the first chair solos because some of the seniors had never had the opportunity and they were graduating. I understood the situation and still yearned to play my own first chair solos.
When I went back to IU the next summer I bought my new professional flute and things started to change. My flute teacher made me learn to play all over again – starting so that I couldn’t even make a sound. I went from being #1 to being a total beginner again. And then I was stacked up in competition against 59 other flute majors. Ouch!! I never did like competition, and this was brutal!! There were psychological games played among the students and so much judgement coming from the faculty. I couldn’t stand the pressure so after another year I changed majors out of the Music School so that I could continue playing and enjoying my music without the pressure. Even though I made the decision to change majors and I continued to play in the pit orchestra of the big school glee club, I still felt like a failure. I had lost my confidence and when a solo was presented to me to play I was always afraid that I would botch it.
For the next twenty-five years after graduating I only played flute for church gigs or weddings or for fun. I missed the symphony so deeply that I wouldn’t even let myself go hear others play the music that I so loved to play. I also had developed serious performance anxiety.
During the last five years I have started playing again – often. I have even been featured as a soloist several times with local groups. Currently I am playing in a local musical. I still have felt anxiety around the solos, my reading and playing abilities, my own self questions about whether I will do it right in rehearsal and then blow it during the performance.
The performance anxiety is still present. This time, however, I am neutralizing it using Emotional Freedom Technique – EFT. I am consciously utilizing a wonderful tool that helped me return from my own Dark Night of the Soul to create this fun life that I live now. And, now I’m applying it to remove something that has been in my life – bothering me for a number of years. Since it has reared its nasty head again recently, I’m going to ZAP it forever this time!! Hooray for such wonderful tools as EFT!!
I’ll let you know how my solos go after the first weekend of performances!! ;-))