Do you get nervous before a performance? If you do, don’t worry you’re not alone. Everyone does at least on some level. Hell, I even get nervous starting a tune set at a session sometimes. The trick is to not let it get the best of you. Here are some techniques to help you get through your performance without letting them see you sweat.
- Prepare – It’s sounds simple, but when coming up with your set list be sure it includes tunes that you know backwards and forwards. Don’t try to perform the tunes you’re unsure of just to impress the audience. A simple tune played well sounds much better than a difficult tune played half-assed.
- Dress to impress – Dress to impress yourself. Wear what makes you feel good. When you feel good it shows and it makes you feel a bit more confident.
- Practice – Know what you’re going to say on stage and practice it so that you’re not stumped when all eyes are on you. If you can, practice in front of a family member or friends and allow them to give you feed back. Even just practicing in front of the mirror will help. The more you practice the easier the words will come out when you get on stage.
- Be confident – The audience wants you to succeed. They want to have a good time. So if they see you are relaxed and confident, it gives them the okay to relax and enjoy. And if you’re not confident – fake it! If you’re at ease the audience will be.
- They don’t see you sweat – When most people get nervous their hands shake or they sweat. The audience however, never sees this. They have no idea how nervous you are or that your hands are clammy or that you’re sweating. So let it happen and get over it.
- Be the conductor – So few people can do what you do and just you being up there is impressive. Command their attention and play with confidence.
- Don’t worry about mistakes – They happen to the best but most likely only you know about them. The audience has no idea what your music is supposed to sound like, only you do. So play like you’ve never played before and forget about the mistakes. The audience doesn’t hear them anyway.
- Enjoy playing – This is the music that touches your soul, that’s why you have spent so much time learning it. Share it with the audience. Don’t play to impress the audience, play because you love it. This is the time to enjoy and share the love.
- Don’t beat yourself up – If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Use it as a lesson for the next time. Just do your best and know that your best today will be different from your best tomorrow.
- Smile – This is probably the hardest thing to do but it is so necessary. Don’t take yourself so seriously, remember this is fun. If you’re smiling and having fun, the audience will too no matter what you’re playing.
I hope this helps. There is no cure for stage fright but you can learn to manage it. Take comfort in knowing that almost every musician gets nervous before they get on stage but the best performers learn how to use it to their advantage. You can too!
Here are some resources you may find helpful:
- Effortless Mastery, by Kenny Werner – A book/CD/DVD about learning how to overcome distractions that can make performances difficult.
- Six Ways to Control Your Stage Fright – YouTube video by Bill Lampton
- Overcoming Stage Fright – Tips to overcoming stage fright by Christine Kane
- The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Stage Fright – by Takelessons.com