Performing in public: A feeling of anxiety or excitement?

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Kerry Hirasuna

Tristan O’donnell posing next to the band’s poster.

“I think I fit in the category of people that enjoy their ride on the roller-coaster without any worries,” said junior Tristan O’Donnell about his level of confidence during performances with his band, the Polarizer.

There are two types of people. Those who enjoy their whole ride on the roller-coaster and those who hold tight the entire time and look relieved when the ride is over. This is where the issue of anxiety versus excitement comes in. Some Clark students say that the excitement can lead to having a better performance instead of stressing out and surrounding oneself with a negative atmosphere. However, reaching that level of comfort to feel calm before any performance is a hard task for many to accomplish.

According to a study done by the American Psychological Association, in order to overcome performance anxiety, trying to calm down before a performance is less effective than trying to feel excited. Feeling excited, rather than taking big breaths to calm down, can lead to a better performance. There is something that can help people feel this way: self-confidence.

Nareh Abramian has been playing the guitar for over 4 years.
Vaheh Abramian
Nareh Abramian has been playing the guitar for over 4 years.

“Having self-confidence is the key to overcome feelings of stress or anxiety while performing,” said junior Nareh Abramian. Abramian said that she has been playing the guitar for almost five years bus still gets butterflies in her stomach before performances. However, she thinks that after practicing, it becomes easier to perform in front of people.

O’Donnell plays the guitar in his band but has never felt nervous about his performances. “If I know it enough, then I’m not nervous because I know I won’t fail,” O’Donnell said. To make sure that he is always prepared, he practices with his band every other day. It might seem that it’s harder to perform with a band because there might be the fear that someone else in the band might mess up, but O’Donnell said that he does not worry about this because he trusts that his band will also perform their best.

However, not everyone is able to overcome the fear of performing before a large audience. Nevertheless, many believe in that they can do one thing to help them feel more confident before performing: practice, practice, practice. “Practice makes perfect,” said junior Anna Ghazaryan.

The first time Ghazaryan stepped in front of a large crowd was when she gave her speech in front of the amphitheatre at Clark for the class elections. “I was really nervous to give my speech because I hate being the center of attention and I knew all eyes were on me,” Ghazaryan said. She thinks the reason why some people get nervous and some don’t is depending on their personalities.

Nune Tadevosian, a piano teacher at International School of Music for 16 years, said that “it depends on the student whether or not they get nervous.” Tadevosian said that the students who stress out still do a great job at the end. However, she did agree that there are more students that get nervous about performing, and only a few are calm before their performances.

One of her students, junior Lily Nazarian, goes to Clark Magnet and has been playing the piano for more than eight years. For Nazarian, performing for the first in front of a crowd full of parents and people her age was the scariest aspect of the whole experience. She learned to overcome her stage fright after performing so many times. “I know that all the practice I put into learning the piece is going to show on stage,” Nazarian said. However, she is a little more afraid of singing in public, even though she goes to a choir. She thinks that it’s a lot harder for people to notice her mistake when she plays the piano, but when it comes to singing, she feels more judged.

Evelina Harutyunyan dancing during practice.
Sahag Melelian
Evelina Harutyunyan dancing during practice.

“Dancing in front of a big crowd that I don’t know makes me more anxious than when I’m dancing with people that I know,” said junior Evelina Harutyunyan. Harutyunyan has been going to dance for almost two years now and it’s one of her biggest passions.

“It’s a lot greater responsibility to perform in front of the crowd because when it’s just with friends and something goes wrong, they can just laugh it out and move on,” Harutyunyan said. “I don’t know why, but I always have the fear that I’m gonna fall down while dancing,” she said. Fortunately, Harutyunyan has never fallen in front of a bigger crowd while performing, other than stumbling a few times during practice to reach the level of performance she wants to give.