Dealing with nerves

Added on by Greg Anderson.
Dear Greg,
I'm 14 years old and has been participating in small competitions for 3 years, performing roughly 4-5 times a year. Last year, I entered a big competition (which I've never experienced before) and managed to get into the final round. However, my nerves got the better of me during my performance of the sonata for the final round and I did not win. I am not obsessed with winning any competition (I don't really mind losing, as long as the experience has been of some benefit) but after the competition experience, I am afraid to attempt such large competitions or to play a sonata in front of an audience again. Can you please give me some honest suggestions in how to overcome such a fear or should I simply stop entering competitions anymore (maybe for the next few years)? Thanks, Greg and I love your playing! XD
 - Anonymous 

Dear Anonymous,

Nerves are definitely a part of the performing process. Most of the time, I consider nerves to be a wonderful thing; they keep my performances exciting by giving me just the bolt of adrenaline I need. On rare circumstances, however, they can be downright detrimental!

I've actually found that the less I think about my fears, the better! I used to have a pre-concert routine worked out (to simmer my fears), but I found that it was just a waste of time and it made me more nervous. (Besides, things never went as planned, and that just ruffled my feathers even more.) Instead, I acknowledge that I'm afraid, then I simply walk on stage and have a blast.

It really only takes a brief, concentrated moment and a couple deep breathes to center oneself. From there, sit down at the piano and fall in love with the music all over again.

- Greg