I am here to attest that stage fright for flutists is a very real condition. When I began performing (even at a young age), I had a few very LARGE problems that prevented me from performing at my best. In fact, they prevented me from performing a lot of times because they were such a big deal.
First, my heart would start beating rapidly,.. very rapidly. I was always worried that I would have a heart-attack before I even got on stage!
Next, my tongue would get dry. I mean dry as the Sahara desert. It felt like a wooden block inside my mouth, and I couldn’t “feel” it quite right either.
Lastly, my brain would feel like it was wiggling which caused a very “dizzy” feeling.
Oh, what a problem these were!! I was a very good flutist, and I knew that. But, I couldn’t seem to control my body during these performance situations.
Well, fortunately for anyone reading this here, I have the fix. I no longer feel as if I’m going to die when I perform.
I’m giving you 3 of my very best tools to combatting the stage-fright monster:
1. Get used to being in front of crowds, period.
Find whatever opportunities you can to put yourself in-front of a group of people. Exercise your leadership skills at a church function, youth group activity, or in a school peer-situation. You’ll find yourself daring more and more to speak up, and let others hear your voice. Once you find out that reactions are mild, you’ll get more and more bold. This “bold-ness” is what will take your confidence level to a new place which will allow you to find more calmness in your performing life as well.
2. Perform pieces that are below your level.
Yes, choose the “Mary Had a Little Lamb” type pieces and strut your stuff! You know that you can do it, and it’ll show. Worm your way up the levels performing all the way. Where you find your break-downs (mentally or physically) is where you have exceeded not only your playing abilities, but your confidence abilities as well. Always perform below your level for maximum awesomeness.
3. Perform the same pieces many, many times.
You know, they say practice makes perfect. Well, practicing in your living-room isn’t even close to the same as performing in front of a crowd (especially on stage). So, practicing “performing” is what makes it all possible, and easy. I promise. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. Over and over. And, I’m telling you the truth. The more performance experiences you can line up for yourself the better. It doesn’t matter if the crowd is 1, 2, or 2,000. It’ll feel the same, and you’ll start learning to cope.
27 thoughts on “3 Ways to Cure Stage Fright for Flutists”
I’ve been playing in my church and also with a quartet band of friends. (Fortunately they are all excellent players so I have a lot of support. )
Trembly lips and butterflies are the worst, but it’s SO worth it when people applaud or come up to you after and say it was beautiful
Yes! It looks like you found the right article Jane :). I’m so glad you have the opportunity to perform. You will only get more and more confident on stage as you continue to showcase your skills. It is totally worth it! I’m glad you’re here, keep up the good work! – Rebecca
I appreciate this article you have written, it has been helping so much. I am hoping I get my personal flute soon. I just don’t want to buy the wrong one or can you be of help in purchasing a flute?
Hi Samuel, I’m excited you’ll be getting your own flute soon. Have you seen my “How to choose a flute” page? You’ll learn so much. Here’s the link: https://learnfluteonline.com/how-to-choose-a-flute/ ~Rebecca
I actually just played in front of my church last night and I messed up this one part but right after I realized that I’ve known these people basically my whole life so they know I’m not perfect and I kept that in mind and I didn’t have a problem. The main miracle there was I was actually able to play without my lips quivering or dropping my flute (that one would’ve been bad) Thank you for this article it’s very true with everything!
Nice Elisabeth!! Thanks for posting. I’m glad you played in church. I bet they loved it! And… haha .. every flutist knows about the quivering lips! I’ll write about that soon too. Good job- proud of you. ~Rebecca
Love your courses, love your calm personality and respect for any level of flute players.
A long time ago i started playing the flute while covering Jethro Tull music, and yes i had stage fright.
My trick ? ..just a glass of cognac before the show. Sorry, it is not glamourous but it worked !
Now i’m here because i need to learn how to master the whole range of the instrument. I spend the first 30 years of my playing career just using the middle octave…
not good !
And i didnt know how to read music. It was all by ear, just like Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull does.
I’m progressing while going throught the gold course.
Happy new Year Rebecca
Hi Pierre, hilarious. Cognac is definitely one way to combat nerves.. as long as your brain and fast twitch muscles don’t get relaxed also. 🙂 Great comments here. You’re doing so well. ~Rebecca
Hi my lovely teacher ! Everything that u said I fell hahahahha special dry mouth and shoulders pain as well! Also no problem to be in front of people but I get too excited to show that what I can do and then mostly go worng ! Hahahah ! Xmas is coming now am better than b4!
I would like to say you are the best thing I’ve find on internet ! Love all your videos ! Thanks for make my day happy everyday! Lots of love for you and your family!
Hi Marcos, sounds like you’re doing great and learning more and more each week. Awesome. Keep it up, thanks for the greetings. See you in a lesson soon! ~Rebecca
Hi Rebecca, thanks for supplying those simple steps to deal with stage fright. I’m putting them into practice right away by looking for avenues and openings to perform in front of a crowd.
Hiya, i’m a new student in the gold section. I was askd recently to play in church ,my first solo, my fingers knew where to go, i could read smoothly, but i started to tremble really badly, i get this all the time, keep thinking everyone can visibly see me shakkng, which makes me feel worse. Good thing is, i’m a.beginner so none expects alot from me at this point, but what if these shakes wonlt go away? Argh!
Hi Caroline, I’m so glad you’re here learning! Welcome, Welcome. Yes, those darn shakes come when you do not want them- I completely understand. Remember that tightness creates tension, and that’s where the shakes happen. So… do like the professional-ish singers do and learn to exhale fully before you raise your flute to perform. Exhale and work on remembering not to ‘smash’ your flute onto your face hard. Grabbing the keys hard will cause the shakes also. It’s a technique you can practice all month until your next solo. You can do it!! ~Rebecca
I perform alot in front of big crowds and exams, but I still get the butterflies every time. How can I fix this?
Hi Kat, my #1 advice is to over-prepare so that those butterflies can just be used to help you ‘fly’ right through your performance. Most high level performers of any kind (especially actors) say that they need those butterflies to raise their adrenaline level enough to deliver excitement in their performance. I think that’s a really good mental-game to play, don’t you? Keep it up. You’re going to be great. ~Rebecca
Thanks so much! I have only performed for a few of my family members so far, but I will remember this for when I can really perform.
Any performance counts, Clare. Start small. It’s a good idea. 🙂 Rebecca
I’ve been singing with my choir for years, but lately have also started playing flute on certain pieces, and find that I’m much more nervous playing than singing. Great tip about choosing simple pieces, and I completely agree with practicing the same piece(s) many times. I also find I have to very carefully highlight my music or my eye may be drawn to a vocal or other accompaniment line in the music, and I’ll just play whatever I see! 🙂
Do you have any advise on getting rid of dry mouth? I know chewing your tongue can help, but do you know other trick?
Hi Anne, dry mouth is something I do get asked about often so you’re not alone. My best advise is to drink water before you play. Some students are on medication that dries out their tongue. This poses a challenge for playing flute since we need that natural ‘wetness’ for producing good tone. If you have more tips, let me know because I’d like to pass them on to more awesome students like you. 🙂 Rebecca
Spot om advice! I remember my first performance was dreadful. I forgot the music, even though it was in front of me, and i panicked. Luckily i kept going and slowly my finger tremors have also subsided. Another piece of advice: practice the way you will perform. I have a church group where i play once a month, and we practice in the same positions as the real thing. It helps!
You’re totally right, Lisa. “Practice” Performing A LOT. 🙂
When I got your email in my inbox today, I could hardly believe it! I am doing my first performance on Saturday as part of an orchestra. I am nervous about it, especially since I have never played flute in public alone, and I also have never played in an orchestra. Thanks so much for the tips!
I’m sending happy, awesome performing vibes to you, Esther!!
Hey thanks so much :). It went really good!
Among all those mentioned point the 1st one is the real problem,that i have in..thnx for finding out solution for us.. take care rebecca ma’am..
You’re very welcome. So glad you’re here learning. 🙂 ~ Rebecca