Every one of us at some point in our lives have felt timid about going public and perform. We dreaded the time we would walk up onto the stage and face our “detractors”. We hoped the audience would keep the yogurts and the eggs in their pockets if we played acceptably.
However, it is of extreme importance to understand that an audience’s job is not to judge and subsequently pass a sentence to the performer; People are not there to rub their hands with gleeful anticipation waiting for the pianist to mess up. Except, if they are a conservatoire student audience. I’m only kidding of course. No matter how important a venue is, we should be enthusiastic about offering our music to others. What has helped me through the years was that quite often I was pretending I was playing to a big audience while I was practising.
While on the piano attempt to imagine that there are thousands of people looking at you, but with love and admiration, and that they enjoy every bit of your performance. Miraculously, this would cure a lot of your stage fright while actually playing live later on. Believe me, if you concentrate enough when you practice, you will actually feel at first a little nervous, like if it was in a live performance, but this anxiety will soon fade away and you will get used to that sensation; The sensation of playing in public.
Always regard an audience as a single object, and think of it as a sole organism; A single unit. Do not attempt to think an audience being many people with different views and contradictory feelings about your playing. Think of an audience like a peaceful giant that you are about to impress. Thus, is always crucial to think what you are in relation to the venue and to the audience.
Feel the winner inside you and feel the performer inside you. You play to impress yourself, to express yourself and to show your musical ideas to others. You must be “selfish” about it, because you believe that your musicality must be shown and must be appreciated by the others. Be strong. Stand your ground and don’t be afraid. This is how you are going to win the crowds. So stop having any reservations about your playing when you go on stage.
You may also appreciate that there is no perfect performance. It’s imperative to understand that. Quite often, even great performers give a wrong account of a piece while on stage. However, what they possess that most pianists don’t is a huge ego, and that transfers to the audience’s minds as well.
A performer has to have a massive ego I’m afraid. This is not always advisable in some other fields in life, however, in the arts and music, ego is what differentiates the good from the great. Naturally, you need to have ego through your sound and image on stage. Not with your capricious demands from the organizers of a concert such as the choice of drinks while you are waiting to get on stage. So be strong and act the virtuoso.