With Halloween coming up, there’s no better time than to address a very real fear for many kids: stage fright. Even if kids aren’t actively in involved in the arts, stage fright can still be a regular occurrence for kids, whether they’re giving a class presentation, have a role in church — or even knocking on someone’s door during trick or treating.
Here are six tips to help your kids overcome stage fright and other times they’re in front of audiences.
- Host mock auditions: Have your child perform all of their audition materials in front of you, other family members and/or friends. Mock auditions are great opportunities for them to experience running through everything with a little bit of nerves, but in a supportive environment. (And mock trick-or-treating? How fun!)
- Teach easy-to-learn breath work. This may sound simple, but taking deep breaths helps lower blood pressure and heart rate. Have your child breathe in for a count of four seconds, hold for a count of four seconds, then breathe out slowly for four seconds. Repeat four times.
- Ahead of time, have them envision a safe place that they can close their eyes and retreat to before the performance. They can imagine their favorite beach or being at home, surrounded by their family.
- Monkey around, and have them eat a snack of a banana before their audition. The potassium in the banana will help stop muscles from shaking. (And I recommend no caffeine before performing!)
- Continue to reiterate the power of positive thinking. Remind them that this is something that they truly love to do! Be their biggest supporter. There are critics everywhere — you might be surprised. Make sure that you are their biggest advocate, supporter and fan. Stay positive!
- Focus on the art vs. the stage. Making music is such a beautiful opportunity to step into connection and communication, to become a vessel for a lyric, a conduit for a melody. Stage fright has less of an opportunity to interfere with a person who is more concerned with telling a story than being on stage. When the act of performance becomes secondary to the practice of sharing art, we can release fear.
We all want our children to be confident, and studies repeatedly demonstrate music education can help a child build confidence and their own unique identity. Though never required, performing in front of peers and at recitals provides a great opportunity to practice public speaking, presentation and communication skills. If you have children in your life who struggle with “stage fright,” encourage these small steps that will lead to big effects, boosting their confidence while building resiliency.
Sarah Garcia is session vocalist and guitarist, music teacher at Green Brooms Music Academy. An L.A. native, she is passionate about making music and creating space for others to do the same in supportive and joyful community. A lifelong student herself, she began piano lessons at 4 and guitar lessons 10 years later, picking up other stringed instruments along the way, including bass guitar, ukulele, mandolin, fiddle and banjo.