Saturday, June 9, 2012

Courage & Fear

Last weekend, my students and I had a recital. It was really beautiful, and a very proud moment for me. I spent a good deal of that week thinking about and discussing fear. 95% of my students have to deal with stage fright. I could feel it and became quite nervous myself. I must admit, however, that some of that nervousness was truly my own. At a recital I worry about the kids having a good experience and I worry about being viewed as a good teacher. I worry about the song choices on my part and the decision to allow certain performances. I worry about parking and seating and I worry about my own performances as well. I am more of a singer than a speaker, so I always freak out about the MC part of my job on Recital Day.

Fear and worry can be so draining to your energy. They just take over your entire body and mind and make it impossible to get anything else done. By Tuesday of last week I was so over it! I decided to do something, so I began asking all of the kids and parents about their stage fright and if they had any tips for overcoming it.

One day, both a dad and a student said to me, "You just get up there and do it!" In other words, you summon up some courage and just dive in. Courage, the opposite of fear. I realized that music performance is an opportunity for building courage, and I saw the fortune in this opportunity for both myself and my students.

Another dad said that before he goes on stage, he peeks out into the audience, looks at every single person and asks, "Can you do this?" Doing this brings forth the reality that most people are afraid of being exposed on stage and the answer most of the time is "no." So when you make a choice to stand in front of a crowd and perform something amazing, you are summoning up courage. Rather than dwelling on my fears, I decided to manifest courage.

As the week went on, I continued my conversations with students and their families, and each day, I spent a few moments thinking about my own worries and fears, and consciously replacing them with thoughts of courage and bravery. When I would begin to feel nervous about standing up and speaking before each student's performance, I would look at individuals on the street and mentally ask, "Could you do this?"

On recital day, I was surprisingly calm. Spending a week facing my fears and worries made me realize what a beautiful opportunity this nervousness gave me. We all have impossible goals we want to achieve and we desperately want to believe we can achieve them. In order to do that, we have to replace our fear with courage. The little performers last Sunday taught me a very good lesson that if you just prepare and then dive in, you can do anything. If you can believe whole-heartedly in yourself, you can accomplish any goal. If you want something bad enough, you have to replace your fears with courage.