Just a quick comment on this thread about what others say or think about our playing, and also what we are thinking ourselves. Of course, we can’t control the thoughts and words of others. We can only be examples of kindness and positivity, and make decisions about how we’ll react to the comments of others. That said, as musicians we often also hear a voice talking inside our heads, especially when we are performing for others. What does the voice say? “You can’t play this very well.” “Here comes the hard part. Watch out!” “You didn’t practice enough.” That inner voice can say a lot meaner things that effect our perceptions of how well we did, and how well we play in general.
Aside from knowing you can change what that inner voice says, you have to override negative self thinking to positive thoughts. This actually does work, so put it into practice when the self doubt creeps in and makes you nervous or insecure. Over the years, I have dealt with my share of what I felt were performance failures, and anxious feelings about performing. But here is what I have come to realize and this has really helped in even the most serious performances.
It’s not about you.
Keep this in mind during your performance. It’s not about what you’re wearing, or what you look like, or even the few mistakes you’re bound to make in a live performance. It’s about bringing honor to the composer by doing your best. It’s about the beauty of the music and your privilege to bring it to the listener. You are just the story teller, but you probably did not write the story. So lose yourself in the music. There is no one there but you and Bach, or whatever composer, in a moment of time you get to relive and share. Pay attention to the music and give it all your heart. That will always be enough. Any negative chatter will disappear as long as you continuously return your mind to the music, and not on yourself.