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Issue 6088

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BB Brass Masterclass: Brett Baker on performance anxiety

Thursday 11 March, 2021

After around a year without live performances, bandspeople will be hoping that 2021 will offer an opportunity to get back in front of an audience. What is the best way to cope – and embrace – the inevitable nerves that will follow?

Brett Baker, principal trombone at Black Dyke, a Michael Rath artist and ambassador, trombone tutor at the University of Salford and general manager of the Geneva Group, writes for British Bandsman on getting back on stage – and relishing every moment.


The issue of performance anxiety is rarely asked about in workshops that I lead but I always tend to mention it and it is always appreciated that I go into some depth about the symptoms and effects of the issue. Phrases like “you will get over it” and “it’s not going to be a problem” are rarely going to be helpful, especially if you think it is going to be a problem.

Before we look at how we might mitigate against the phenomenon of performance anxiety, let us define the topic. What is performance anxiety? For me, it is the fear of doing something in the presence of others. It could be public speaking, a driving test, a solo contest or an Associated Board exam.

Often the issue is a fear of being “found out” or being “judged” as we all tend to feel we are inadequate to a large or small amount and in the case of stage fright or anxiety, these feelings become all consuming.


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