Dear American Girl,

I'm playing a violin solo in my very first concert, and I'm really nervous! I can't seem to calm my jitters, and I'm starting to doubt how well I can play. What can I do to settle my nerves and play my best?
-Stage fright

Here's your advice:

Before the concert, practice your violin in front of your stuffed animals. It might seem silly, but if you line them up in a row in your room, you can almost picture that each stuffed animal is a person in the audience. Doing this might even be fun!
-Alice, age 11, Washington

When you step onto the stage, take a few deep breaths. It's a simple trick, but it's helped me many times when I've played in recitals.
-Aliya, age 9, Illinois

Before the concert, ask your teacher or an older student to give you a little extra help. Practicing with an "expert" might chase away those jitters.
-Jenna, age 10, Kentucky

Remember, if you weren't a good violinist, you wouldn't have been asked to play a solo! Thinking about this might be the boost you need.
-Sara, age 12, New Jersey

Practice the piece for the concert over and over until you feel confident in your abilities. And right before you go onstage, say to yourself, I can do this. I can do anything.
-Hannah, age 11, North Carolina

When you're playing your violin at the concert, look at a parent, a friend, or someone else who is important to you and know that he or she is proud of you.
-Anna Grace, age 8, Delaware

Right before you go onstage, imagine yourself playing the violin very well and then people clapping for your performance. Positive thinking might squash those worries.
-Katherine, age 13, Illinois

One time, I had to sing a solo in front of lots of people. I was so nervous! Halfway through my song, I realized that I was focusing too much on what the audience thought of me instead of doing my best. I decided to pay less attention to them and to think more about my performance. At your concert, pretend that you're just in your bedroom practicing the violin and no one else is there.
-Annie, age 11, Arizona

When I feel anxious, I use this trick, and you can try it, too: Close your eyes and picture the number ten. Then imagine it fading away and changing into a nine. When you get to zero, you could feel a lot calmer.
-Abi, age 12, Massachusetts

Before the concert, try to do something that will make you feel brave, such as going down a big slide at a waterpark or singing karaoke at a party. Playing a violin solo might seem pretty easy compared to a daredevil activity!
-Abbie, age 10, Texas

As you're playing, look right above the heads of people in the audience. Making eye contact with people could make you feel even more nervous.
-Natalie, age 9, Connecticut

Before my first violin solo, I was jittery, too. Every time I practiced, I kept two pieces of paper near me: one on which to write down things about how well I played and another for things that went wrong or hurt my confidence. The night before my solo, I ripped up the "negative" piece of paper. The paper filled with positive stuff was in my pocket when I did my solo. It worked really well!
-Maggie, age 11, New York

Talk to a parent or a sibling about your stage fright. Maybe he or she can offer you some good tips. Remember, no matter what, your family will always be proud of you for trying your best.
-Jessica, age 12, Wisconsin

Get as much information as you can before the concert. Ask your teacher to see a program or schedule so that you can find out when you'll be playing. With permission, take a peek at the auditorium and picture yourself there. Find out what you should wear, too. Your stage fright might fade away if you feel prepared.
-Renee, age 13, Virginia

I play the piano, and I've played solos in many concerts. It can be nerve-racking! When I'm up on the stage, I choose a thing, such as a clock or a piece of artwork, and never take my eyes off it. And remember, you don't have to be perfect. If you make a mistake, just keep going. Chances are, the audience didn't notice anyway.
-Jessica, age 12, Michigan

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