Gareth Montanarello

Managing Performance Anxiety: Part 5

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

Somehow week 5 has already drawn to a close... Time goes by even faster now that we are all stuck at home. I'm sure we will all be sharing crazy stories of this time in a few years.

I may be stuck inside but at least the view is nice.

If you are just joining, this is part 5 of a series about my efforts to get more comfortable auditioning and performing alone. Read parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 here.

This Week's Performances

Unfortunately, I was unable to get in any performances for other people this week- I expected the quarantines to make it easier to schedule meetings, not harder. Despite this, I still challenged myself by making daily recordings of Persichetti's Parable for Double Bass. As I have mentioned in past entries, I experience the same nervous reactions when recording as I do when auditioning, so this proved to be a good use of time. I also used one of the recordings as an entry to the school's unaccompanied string solo competition.

Consistent Practice

I've talked before about the need to practice anxiety management strategies in the same way that I practice bass- consistently. Each week has been a little inconsistent for me on that front. This week, however, was productive as each recording was a chance to recenter and refocus before playing again. I did about 5-6 (likely more some days) takes every day for a week, centering before each one.

After two days, I was able to center effectively within four breaths, after four days I was down to two or three, and by the end of the week, I could get in the zone with one. This is a significant improvement from past performances when trying to reach any optimal pre-performance state took at least half an hour. If you want to read more about centering, the second part of this series has some good links and videos to look over.

Things To Work On

Although my ability to center and remain calm has improved, these two areas still need work:

  1. Staying focused on the task at hand: I am a scatter-brained individual that likes to multitask (bad), so it's not really a surprise that I struggled to stay focused during these recordings. Maybe some meditation would help me in this area, but I'll do some research and report back next week.

  2. Accepting mistakes: In general, I feel like I handle mistakes a lot better than I used to- I certainly don't get as bent out of shape and angry. This week, however, I found myself struggling to accept small errors, probably because one of the recordings was to be submitted to the solo competition. In the end, I forced myself to accept my mistakes by submitting a take that was good with errors. Imagine.

I'm also going to go back through this podcast with Don Greene this week and see if I learn anything new:


Since I didn't get to try out the techniques I mentioned this week, I will write about them next week. Until then, stay safe and stay clean, and feel to check out the other posts in this series!

Please share and subscribe if you haven't already, too!

Other Parts of the Series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

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