Performance Anxiety

Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them.  ~Brendan Francis, Irish poet and writer

Dallas here.

I have a bone to pick with my mama and that flute of hers.

Now I’m a reasonable dog. I’ll gladly take my snoozle while she’s practicing, and I never complain about wrong notes, shaky rhythms, and the inevitable squeeks that a beginning instrumentalist makes.

But recently I overheard Mama talking to The Kid (AKA Domer) on the phone. Seems she has to play in a real concert.


Of course, I’m not invited. That’s the first problem.

Because how does she think she can play without ME lying underneath her?

I understand when she leaves me every week to go to something called band practice.

She comes home with a smile on her face and a tune in her head, and I guess that makes her happy.

I’m happy when Mama is happy.

But this concert feels different somehow.

Poor Mama is freeting over:

  • What to wear (all black, Mama, head to toe — you don’t want to stick out)
  • Whether she can play all the songs well enough, and in tune (practice, Mama!)
  • Having to sit in the front row, within spitting distance of the conductor (don’t give him any reason to spit at you, Mama!)

And she’s wondering whether she’s bitten off more than she can chew.

Her daytime angst is bad, but I’ve noticed it affecting her nights as well.

She tosses and turns, flips and flops, and is so exhausted from dreaming that she drags through the next day.

We can’t have that!

This band thing was supposed to be FUN. Not something that would turn on performance anxiety.

I’m clinging extra-close to her these days in case she needs to stroke my furs. Pets know that relieves anxiety, but Mama’s best bet is getting past this concert.

Wait, she just informed The Kid she’s got a second concert coming up in about six weeks.

What’s a dog to do?

13 thoughts on “Performance Anxiety

  1. Hellooooo Dallas!

    Great to hear from you, buddy! I love your posts!!!!

    Please tell Mama that I can so relate to her nervousness and anxiety about performing live (in front of people) because when I was still acting on stage in the theater, I would get the same way. In fact, I would get soooo nervous, it was almost paralyzing. So please also let her know that, although she’s apprehensive about how it’s all going to go, once she gets out there and starts playing, all her nerves will go away and she’ll actually enjoy it.

    Just trust.

    Have a faaaaaaaabulous Sunday, Dallas! And tell Mama I said hello!

    • Mr. Ron, I’ll tell Mama what you said and keep my paws crossed she listens to the Voice of Experience! I think she’ll be just fine. I’ve listened to her practice, and while I’m not musically trained, it sounds fine to me. Besides, gone are the days when they killed performers if they didn’t like the show, right??

      Happy Sunday from Mama and me — and happy week to come as well! xx

  2. Maybe your Mom isn’t anxious maybe she is excited! Sometimes excitement masquerades as anxiety. And wow, just wow for her willingness to step up to the flute and go for it.
    Suggest if she must worry about something it should be what she wears (always worth an extra thought or two)–Isn’t it kind of sad that she doesn’t have a person suit (like your dog suit) that is wash, wear, and appropriate for every occasion and season?
    And remember if she becomes too serious it’s time for a walk…or a cookie….or a game of hide and seek, or a belly rub…you it get right?
    Only the Best of Wishes for what I am sure will be a wonderful concert.

    • Aw, thanks, Miss Kb! Yes, I’ve often wondered why people don’t have “people suits” like we dogs have dog suits. (I guess they do — it’s called “skin,” but people don’t go out in public wearing that!!) Mama has been battling her closet, trying stuff on and yanking it off. It’s quite a show. But I’m fairly sure she’ll figure it out and look just fine. As for the concert, all she can do is practice — and hope everyone else does, too!

  3. Oh, Dallas, we do sympathise, but at least your Mama plays well! Our servant and her dratted guitar are driving us mad! Tommy spends half his life upstairs with his paws over his ears, and I have to stick my tail in the air and exit via the cat-flap each time she “plays”. It’s very kind of you (and so dog-like) to offer your Mama emotional support (which we’re sure she doesn’t need, since she’ll be great!), Being cats, we prefer to be brutally blunt with our servant… but still she won’t take the hint! Perhaps your Mama could have a word with her…

    Love, Tommy and Tuppence

    • Hi Tommy and Tuppence! Not sure if I agree with you. When The Kid brings his guitar home, I LOVE listening to him. It’s way easier on the ears than that shrill flute of Mama’s! I imagine cats have more sensitive ears (or maybe I’m just getting old!). Don’t be too hard on your servant. At least she’s trying, and who knows? With practice, she’s bound to get better — even if she doesn’t have to play concerts in public! Hang in there!!

  4. Hey Dallas. Humans do this all the time. They fret over stuff and then when the big worry never happens they do it on something else. You should only worry if your mama forgets to feed you. I would come down with four feet if that happens. Otherwise stay close and try not to catch the anxiety yourself – Your Friend, Lucy

    • Hi Lucy! Oh, you’re so wise — this is JUST what humans do. They race from one worry to another, not like us dogs who know how to chill. Mama would never forget to feed me or send me out or play or … well, the list goes on. I’m kind of insistent about things, you see. Funny, but Mama doesn’t *look* anxious. I think she’s making a mountain out of a molehill myself!

  5. Dixie Rose muttered something about sending encouraging words, but she’s fallen asleep (again) so I guess I’m going to have to do it for her. Her advice seemed reasonable to me: just relax, and enjoy it. It’s not an audition, and not a contest — it’s just a way of bringing some enjoyment to people — like you do, Dallas, and like Dixie Rose does for me. If she gets too nervous, tickle her with your tail. That ought to do it!

    • Miss Linda, I think Dixie Rose has the right idea! A good long snoozle, especially in the sun, makes the day go so much more smoothly. I Dallas have listened to Mama practice, and I know she’s able to play those pieces. Maybe she just needs to find a friendly face in the audience and pretend she’s playing to me!!

  6. Dallas, I love your writing style. You have a real flare especially for a dog. Tell your Mama that she will be fine during her performance. Just remind her take a few deep breaths and a couple of seconds to focus.

    • Howdy, Miss Pat — and thank you for your lovely words! I love to sneak onto Mama’s computer when she’s otherwise occupied. Deep breaths and focusing — yes, I think that’s good advice, and I’ll pass it along to Mama. Perhaps she also needs to be reminded that no one’s judging the performance … and she’s not getting paid!

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