Performing Under Stress with Charlotte Tomlinson

Posted: 19th October 2016 by braincando

Queen Anne’s School L5 (Year 10)  Music GCSE students were given a wonderful opportunity recently to learn about performance under stress by professional pianist and performance coach Charlotte Tomlinson. They were introduced to a number of different topics, including information about nerves, how to manage them, how they show themselves, and how to understand how nerves affect them personally and some different tools on how to control them.

It was an interesting discussion that whilst being aimed at our musically inclined students, could be applied to a number of different areas and subjects. Not only do musicians prepare to perform at a high level, so do our athletes, drama performers, and academics. Our students are constantly finding themselves in situations in which they must perform to a high standard and nerves are bound to be flying.

“Charlotte Tomlinson taught me that I need to ‘own the stage’ so to speak. I know now from working with her that walking onto the stage confidently is just as important as how you play, as far as impressions on your audience go.” – Eleanor

Some of the ways that Charlotte Tomlinson discussed dealing with these nerves included, taking some time for yourself, breathing techniques, visualisation tools, and turning our “inner critic” into “the objective observer”. A tool that is only possible if we allow ourselves to make mistakes and learn from them. This idea is very similar to our current term’s main theme: promoting a growth mindset. With a growth mindset, students are more likely to use mistakes as a way to learn and grow.

“I learnt that it is important to remember to breathe, even though it seems like an obvious thing” – Lucy

The presentation concluded with some practical applications, as a number of students were asked to come up on stage and perform. Upon their first try, you could see the nerves start to appear, but with some guidance and coaching the girls were able to settle into their rhythm and give magnificent performances, while also learning about what helps them to conquer their nerves.

“I found this session very captivating, especially when Mrs. Tomlinson said that we should see performing as sharing rather than impressing and this has changed my view on all my musical, sports and academic performances.” – Hazelle 

With their nerves under wraps, a brave hand went up during the final few minutes and asked Charlotte if she could give the students a short performance. To the girl’s delight, she obliged and mesmerised the room with her playing.

“Mrs. Tomlinson then reminded us of the fact that we are our own worst critic and the audience wants us to do well.” – Marjolein

Students and faculty alike were able to leave the presentation with good information on handling nerves during performances and were left with this important quote: “Excellence is working towards your own personal best with flexibility and freedom.” A big thank you goes out to Charlotte Tomlinson from all those in attendance.

“Before future performances, not just in music, I will take deep breaths and do a few minutes of meditation to clear my mind of all worries that could give me a mind blank. Hopefully this will help my performances to be of the best standard that I can produce.” – Astrid