Student Festival Anxiety

You can follow the timing of choral festivals and contests around the country by the posts in groups like I’m a Choir Director asking about how to curb student anxiety ahead of their performance.

Usually the right answer is: don’t be anxious yourself.

Students pick up on your emotions in rehearsal, pay attention to your focus, and reflect back what they see, hear, and feel.

I can still remember my first festival performance, where my students sang Chesnokov’s “Duh Tvoy Blagiy” as I quaked to their side and they quaked in a semicircle. Their anxiety was just mine placed onto them.

The trick, I know now, is to raise expectations and lower stakes during rehearsal.

This isn’t brain surgery – no one is going to die on the table if we don’t tune measure 20. The stakes are low.

We have worked hard to make our pieces as polished and musical as possible, and have the chance to share it with an audience of family and other choral music lovers. The expectations are high.

If you can navigate that distinction with your choir–and honestly remain unanxious about your performance–your students will reflect that back at you and sing accordingly.