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    Practicing Stage Fright Management

    Mike Lawson | July 1, 2002

    Waiting backstage, the familiar symptoms return. The palms moisten, the stomach becomes queasy, the heart beats harder and faster, breathing becomes more shallow, the knees feel weak. “Here we go again,” you think to yourself, disgusted that the cycle is seemingly beyond your control. Is it possible to overcome the body’s natural defense mechanisms? To use the surge of adrenalin in a positive way to enhance instead of hinder a performance? Of course it is. It just takes some understanding and practice.

    Fight or Flight: The Human Body in Survival Mode

    Those familiar feelings are caused by the production of adrenalin. Your brain receives those primal impulses and your body goes into “fight or flight” survival mode. Your body is reacting to perceived danger – it is primed for anything. Response time is quickened; senses are fine-tuned. You can jump higher, run faster and play daunting technical passages. Although your body is telling you to run, you must stay and complete a performance. So how do you minimize the negative effects of adrenalin? By changing your perception, by viewing the physical changes as excitement, not panic. By learning to slow down, breathe deeply and focus that additional energy into a passionate and exciting performance. This takes practice.

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