Winter guard season is upon us and with it brings an entirely new performance perspective. The audience and judges are no longer several feet away; now they are face to face with each individual performer.
If you are one of those people who get “butterflies” or pre-show jitters, this article is for you. If there is one place that you will experience anxiety, it is between the gym door and the performance floor.
Outside the Door. Let’s be honest, standing outside the gymnasium door, waiting to enter into competition, is pretty much “ground zero” for nerves. Hearts start to race, rate of breath increases, and hands get clammy. Even the most experienced World Class performers face pressure at this point.
When standing at the gym door, allow yourself to expect and grow accustomed to the heightened level of excitement. Use a breathing exercise that will help calm your nerves. Breathing in from your abdomen, inhale through your nose and count slowly to five. Next, hold your breath for five counts and then release it for five counts. When you have finished, take two breaths in your normal rhythm and repeat the exercise again.
While doing this exercise, close your eyes and focus your thoughts on only the positive. Envision an amazing performance in which you experience every moment with precision, emotion and confidence.
The Performance Floor. The next step is getting through the door. Look at and get to know your audience. In essence, “make friends” with your audience at this point. You should strive to feel as comfortable as possible in this environment, and this is the time to do so. Smile and realize the simple reason you perform … to entertain the audience. As you set your equipment, trust in your training.
As the music begins, breathe, be present in the performance and enjoy.
About the Author
Chris Casteel has been involved in the color guard activity since 1981 as a performer and an instructor. She has a master’s degree in education. She has instructed several medaling guards for the Winter Guard Association of Southern California (WGASC). Currently, Chris is an adjudicator for the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association and the WGASC as well as a guest adjudicator for many other circuits. She also holds the position of education coordinator for the WGASC.