Stage fright can be crippling. It’s one of those ailments that almost everyone suffers from, albeit to varying degrees: from a mild tingling sensation to full-blown panic attacks. But stage fright can be beaten! Just follow these simple steps...
1. Don’t overthink it
If you spend too much inside your own head, you will start to think about everything that could possibly go wrong. You might be plagued by thoughts like, “Is all my gear working?”, “What if my battery dies?”, “What if I loose my pick?”. Many musicians have suffered stage fright thinking about everything that can go wrong.
2. Arrive early
Arriving late to the venue means you will be running around and getting stressed about your rig. If you suffer from stage fright it is important to get to your destination early. This is especially important if it is a venue in which you’ve never before played. You want to acclimate to your new surroundings as quickly as possible
3. You will make a mistake – and that’s OK
Every musician has made a mistake on stage - EVERY. ONE. OF. THEM. Your audience will be forgiving if you make a mistake. How you recover after the mistake will make all the difference.
4. Breathing, stretching and relaxation
Certain Yoga poses and breathing techniques have shown to reduce heart rate and can cause a relaxing effect. Try some light meditation or some simple stretches before going on stage to help loosen yourself up.
5. Don’t rush it
It is a common mistake for anyone who is nervous to speak faster or play faster. Try playing to a click track live to ensure that you are not speeding things up.
6. Don’t speak about mistakes
Mistakes happen, but they can be forgotten if you let them go. If you tell your friends about every mistake you make, then you are more likely to remember every mistake you’ve made. This will weigh on your mind after a will and be tough to let go of later. Rather, ignore any mistake you make and celebrate great shows instead.
7. Double check your gear
While setting up, double check that everything works. If you use batteries, be sure to have a spare. You should always have spares of all your consumables. Strings, picks, sticks and so on.
8. Practice until your music is muscle memory
Once your piece is in your muscle memory, it becomes more comfortable to play it. Your mind might go blank, but your fingers will know what to do. Practice every song you play until you are sick of it. Make sure it’s perfect.
9. Focus on the audience
Musicians are the modern-day gladiators. We step onto the stage to entertain the masses. If you are on stage, you are there for the audience. Focusing on the audience instead of yourself and your fear is a great way to become more confident on stage.
10. Connect with the audience
Find a pretty girl to smile at, give a knowing nod to the front row, smile or pull Dave Martone-style faces. Having fun with the audience and interacting with them, getting a connection with them, is a sure-fire way to make you relax. You’ll be playing in front of all your new friends instead of a group of strangers.
Originally published on 10 August 2016 by Paul Bothner Music.