classical musicians performing in an ensemble“If things get rocky, stay positive and engaged, and give your audience the best possible experience.”
The Musician’s Way
, p. 189

Recall the last time that you were distracted during a performance: How did you cope?

Onstage distractions are bound to occur: doors will slam, thoughts will intrude, coperformers will miss entrances, sneezes will well up, nerves will make our limbs shake.

But whatever the distraction, with countermeasures at hand, we can stay focused and keep the music flowing.

Here’s a distraction-busting technique that I teach and rely on. All four parts are meant to be executed simultaneously.

How to Deal with Distractions while Performing

1. Breathe

Inhale deeply into the abdomen and exhale fully as you project confident body language.

2. Release tension

Lengthen your spine, let your shoulders widen, free your legs, and smile inwardly.

3. Listen

Listen intently to yourself and any coperformers as you sculpt every phrase.

4. Image ahead

Sense upcoming phrases with clarity and emotion.

How to Practice Dealing with Distractions

To rehearse this technique, use it during practice sessions, rehearsals, and practice performances whenever your attention drifts.The Musician's Way book cover

You might also gather with colleagues in a performance-development group and take turns performing for each other while those who listen periodically do distracting things such as cough, talk loudly, drop items to the floor, or cause their phones to ring.

In time, you’ll be able to focus despite any distraction and thereby keep yourself and your listeners transfixed by music.

The Musician’s Way details strategies to build up comprehensive practice and performance skills.

Related posts
Assessing Your Performance Skills
Becoming a Confident Performer

Mastering Performance Skills
Mental Imaging
Practicing Performance

© 2012 Gerald Klickstein
Photo © T. Hlavacek, licensed from