Stage fright in 7 year old

Barb said: May 22, 2009
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

I have a seven year old beginner cello student who does not at all come across as shy or introverted, but hates performing for a group.

He totally froze on stage when he was supposed to say his name and song—three times on two different days playing piano and cello in a music festival. He was able to play fine once he got going when the adjudicator asked him to go ahead and play even though he hadn’t said a word.

At two earlier performances (same song, within about a month of the festival) I introduced him, so speaking was not an issue, but his playing was more timid than usual. He had told his mom he was NOT going to play at the first event, so she turned him over to me and I only gave him the choice of playing first or second, after telling him that feeling nervous was normal and that the more he performed the easier it would get. His mom had warned me that he had issues of not wanting to get up at his earlier piano performance. At the second event all of us were on stage together playing some group things, and that might have helped some, but I could hardly hear his cello when it came time for his solo.

I have encouraged performing at any opportunity for family, classmates… and he has played with his cousins on their violins a time or two. We rehearsed going on stage and introducing himself before the festival, too.

I have also since told him that sometimes we need to ACT like we’re not nervous even if we are. He can be very dramatic, so I’m hoping this angle might help? Maybe he should pretend to be someone else?

Any other suggestions from teachers or parents who may have dealt with this kind of anxiety in a beginner before?

Barb

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
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Lynn said: May 23, 2009
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
173 posts

I think basically you are approaching it very well.

One of my colleagues calls recitals “performance lessons”, and talks with the students about what they are learning by attending, preparing and performing in recitals. Seen in that light, if you break out the components of what goes into performing in a recital: entering and exiting the stage, bowing, introducing himself and his piece, playing his piece, playing with a certain size tone…..one way to lessen the stress and size of the event for him might be to identify with him and then practice specific performance goals. So, if he’s not ready to speak, but thinks he could play his piece with a heavy bow arm and big tone, that’s the one point for his performance lesson. You could also ask him to look for that element in other students’ performances.

Barb said: May 26, 2009
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Thank you, Lucy—good idea!

Barb

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

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