Today in the course of some research, I stumbled upon The Young Ladies Book written by Matilda Anne Planché Mackarness in 1888. It contains advice of all sorts on reading, on music, and on amusements of all sorts.
She gives the following good advice on performing in public:
“I have a sympathetic feeling for those who are afflicted with diffidence, or, as it is often called, nervousness, and I hope that a few remarks on that point may be acceptable. When such a one is requested to sing or play before company, I should advise immediate compliance, if the final intention should be to do so, as the time taken up with unmeaning excuses often produces a tremor must detrimental to the voice or the fingers; I should therefore say proceed without delay to the pianoforte, select the song or piece that you think best suited to your powers, and give your thoughts wholly and solely to the music – in fact, if I may use the expression, throw yourself entirely into it, forgetting as much as possible that any one is near you; and from experience I can confidently assert that such a plan will prove to be the best you can adopt for overcoming the feeling of nervousness so objectionable on all accounts, and so likely to increase if unresisted.”
To summarize, the best possible method for overcoming nervousness when you are asked to performs is: a) proceed without delay to the pianoforte and b) throw yourself into it.
Stephanie Claussen teaches harp lessons out of her home in St. Paul, Minnesota. She strives to ingrain in each student not only correct hand position, rhythm and a sense of musicality, but also a love for making music.