5 Tips To Help Tackle Stage Fright
By Jason Wilford
Getting on stage in front of people can be quite daunting, especially if it’s something you’ve never done before, or have limited experience with. Whether you’re going on stage at a casual recital, or playing in front on an audience with a band, the anxiety can start even when you’re weeks away from an upcoming performance. Just thinking about having to get up there in front of other people can leave you feeling nervous, anxious, and stressed out. When I first got on stage in my teens, I felt the exact same way; I would get more anxious the closer the performance got. But over the years of performing with bands, getting up on stage got easier as I learned how to harness this energy into something positive. Today I’m going to share 5 quick tips that helped me (and hopefully you) overcome some of my fears and feel more comfortable getting in front of people and playing music.
- Get Out And Play In Front Of People As Often As Possible
The more often you actually get out there and play in front of others, the easier it gets. This reality is often quite hard to put into action, because playing in front of people is what can cause anxiety and stress in the first place. But if you run towards your fear instead of away from it, you’re going to grow as a person, and become a more confident musician. And the alternate reality is that the less you play in front of people, the harder it is when you actually do.
- Play And Perform With Other People
Playing with other people takes does two things: first, it gets you used to playing in front of and with other players, so even your practice sessions are going to help you feel more comfortable when you finally get up on the stage. Second, when you are on stage with a group, the spotlight isn’t only on you — it’s on the band as a whole. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it feels to get up there with other people — the nerves may instantly fade away once you get going because of how much fun you’re having! It really can be better to do things as a team.
- Know Your Material Inside And Out
We’ve all heard the term ‘practice makes perfect’ – but I’ll give you a new one: Practice creates confidence. The more you practice your material, the more confident you are going to feel when you get up on stage to play it. Everyone makes mistakes (even the top pros!), and if you don’t know your material that well, it can throw you off when you make even a small mistake. If you’ve memorized your material and have practiced it fiercely, it’s much easier to just pick up like nothing ever happened when you make a mistake. Use your upcoming performance as an opportunity to motivate yourself to practice your material to the highest level you can!
- Warm Up Before You Get Out There
Getting out on stage without warming up is a recipe for disaster. What once felt easy when you were practicing may feel like trying to walk through quicksand. Spend time before every performance to warm up properly, and work through the material you will be playing. Don’t overdue it to the point where you’ve exhausted yourself, but make a point to ensure your playing is in great shape when you get out there on stage.
- Run Through The Entire Performance In Your Mind
If you feel anxious or nervous in the hours/days/weeks leading up the performance, take a few moments to visualize how everything will play out once you get up on stage. If you’re playing a setlist, walk yourself through each song (and any song transitions you’ve created). Make sure you know in your mind exactly how the performance will play out. When you do this, you’ll notice that a lot of that anxiety disappears. Sometimes planning things out does wonders to get rid of stress and anxiety, so remember this tip the next time you get these feelings.
In the big scheme of things, getting more comfortable on stage is all about doing more – getting out to play more often, playing more with other players, practicing more, making sure you’re warming up properly every time, and fully knowing how it’s all going to play out in your mind. The biggest thing is to just get out there and do it! It’s normal to have a little bit of anxiety and nervousness when you out there to play in front of people but don’t let fear hold you back!