How to Manage Feelings of Stage Fright...

Most musicians will have to deal with performance anxiety sooner or later in one way or another. Here are some tips to help you maintain your balance while up on stage...

Many professional musicians struggle with stage fright each and every single performance. These heightened feelings of panic and fear can be difficult to overcome.

The nervousness can be unbearable, but the strange thing for sufferers can be when the musician gets on stage and starts playing, they become so focused that the anxiety falls away. All that is left is pure excitement.

Once a musician starts playing a lot of gigs (say, every week or so) the stage fright starts to diminish as an issue for them. Musicians will often comment that doing more live work on stage slowly takes away those fears that they have.

But then “change” can come along, new things happening, unexpected situations, bigger venues, different people to deal with, larger crowds, etc. and musicians may have to deal with the uneasiness all over again, and that can be tough.

When you’re aware of a few simple rules and take the necessary steps the nervousness becomes tolerant and will eventually disappear completely. A big part of the salvation lies in your own hands and can be easy to attain with the right approach.

Fear simply comes from worrying about the future, the unknown, thinking about what might happen, going through all the ‘what if’ scenarios and torturing yourself with what others might think.

These are all scenarios that are not REALLY there, but they can cause you to feel certain ways in the here now and those situations are not easy to cope with. They do however live in your mind, and everyone has to deal with them at some point.

And yes that’s the theory, you still have to deal with it or better said ‘let go of it.'

Below are some techniques to help you out with stage fright and hopefully some of them will help you enjoy the entire experience of your performance.

Operate in the Here and Now:
Whenever any type of self-doubting feeling creeps into your head on stage and you start worrying about the audience, let those feelings go. Instead, concentrate and focus all of your attention on your playing, enjoy your playing, immerse yourself into your playing, feel the excitement of the music and be in that moment completely.

If your mind slips into some unpleasant thought start to visualize that thought as a cloud, let the cloud pass you by and gently move your focus back to your guitar playing and the pleasure of it. If it comes back, just let it pass by again and again. Eventually it will give up on trying to bother you.

If you need to, try to close your eyes for a few moments and work on eliminating the distraction of the audience and do your best to really get into the feel of your music.

Establish Your Stage Look and Behavior:
A lot of musicians act a certain way on stage. And, some people might have an expectation of their behavior and their bands presentation on stage. This can be very suffocating to an artist.

Try and tap your own personality on stage. Catch people off guard and do the opposite sometimes. Be different. The audience loves this. Break the rules and think outside of the box. Be free and let go of formulas, procedures, rituals and recipes. Be yourself on stage. Be natural and it goes a long way with the crowd.

Think of a time when you made others laugh and feel good. Tap that personality and load it in as a pattern that you use on stage. Your crowd will eat it up and it will leave you feeling better as well.

Be 100% Ready to Play Your Material:
Prepare yourself as much as you can. Memorize your lyrics in any possible way until you are sure there is no way that you can fail. If necessary, print your lyrics with big letters and stick it to the stage floor.

Learn your chord progressions, riffs and guitar solos inside out. Practice the intro, verses, chorus, bridge, solo and outro separately and practice the whole song from beginning to end without faltering again, again and again.

Practice your performance from the moment you walk onto the stage (or the place you will be performing) until you leave the stage. Practice and memorize what you want to say to the audience, how you’re gonna introduce yourself. Just a few words can often be enough. Thank them for coming and tell them what you’re gonna play. Take a page out of legendary guitarists "Jeff Beck" stage show, he barely talks to the crowd. But, when he does he's thoughtful and clear in how he relates to them.

Before your actual performance first play your song or repertoire for a friend, a relative or just someone you know. Everything you practice and prepare thoroughly beforehand will build up your confidence on stage and it will take away your feelings of uncertainty.

Solid preparation builds confidence on stage and it takes away most of the feelings of anxiety.

Fully Appreciate the Audience:
Don’t view the audience as people who are there to criticize you or critique you. The audience is there to enjoy your music, and to have a good time. And you are living their dream.

The dream to be confident and perform live on a stage. Don’t picture the audience as your enemy instead see them as your friends with who you want to have a good time with. Smile to them, talk to them and appreciate them. 

Leave Your Ego at the Door:
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t try to be something or someone that you’re not. Trust me the audience will see right through that very quickly.

Lighten up and be relaxed on stage. Accept that you are imperfect. You’re ego wants you to be perfect but screw your ego and be the relaxed. There is no need to care to the point that you make a mistake. Just play the song, enjoy it and share it with others. Don’t play to impress, play to have fun with the audience.



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