A Tip for the Anxious Musician: Relax

Easier said than done. This tip is for any musician, and it will affect how you play. It makes sense that if athletes warm up before they exercise to loosen their muscles, musicians should too. After all, both require the player to control their muscles well in order to play well.

It is important that musicians learn which areas of their bodies tend to tense up more than others. For me, it’s my shoulders. When I get stressed out and anxious, my shoulders raise. Recognize that it is a skill to even sense this. Many often do not notice the change.

If you can learn to notice when your muscles tense up, you can learn to relax them. Here are some common areas that tense up:

  • shoulders and neck
  • hands
  • forehead
  • lower back

One way to relax is to focus your attention on the spot that is tense and intentionally relax it. Because it’s like flexing on purpose, one way to relax it is to first make it as tight as possible, and then letting it loosen up as much as possible, relaxing the area as much as possible.

There are many ways people work on relaxing, and beyond the mental and spiritual elements, I’ve seen this method of physically relaxing to be effective.

So if you play piano, for instance, and your hands are tense, a young player might tend to stick their fingers in the air. There are many possible reasons for this, but this exercise of tightening and then loosening is a start.

If you are a musician, what helps you relax?

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