Last weekend, I finally performed the Chopin etude – op. 10 no.9. And while the piece itself was more or less ready in my eyes, I learned a whole lot more just by having to performing it. As I prepared my piece in the weeks before the recital, the thought of playing my piece in front of everyone began to make me nervous to put it mildly. Playing in front of people is hard enough, I thought, and now I have to play the most difficult piece I know in front of them??
Performance anxiety exists and it is perfectly normal to be nervous about playing for an audience. There is a vast difference between the atmosphere of a comfortable practice room and the feeling of all eyes on you as they wait for you to play. The last time I performed a piece (Chopin Nocturne), my hands went cold and shook the entire time. My leg began to shake too and I found myself pedaling to ease the shaking rather than paying attention to the piece. The entire memory of playing was a blur afterwards and certainly not enjoyable. Given that I was playing a more difficult piece this time around, I decided to confront the whole idea of performing and its associated anxiety.