We all know how frightening it can be to play guitar in front of other people. This term is known as stage fright. Guitarists wonder if they are good enough, if the audience will love the song, and it keeps adding to the anxiety. You should know that this is not something that is rare, and it happens with everyone.
Probably every guitar player had stage fright and had issues performing in front of an audience. However, you should know that there are tips to help you improve and overcome the fear of playing in front of other people.
Some people will overcome stage fright quickly and some won’t get rid of it completely. However, these tips will undoubtedly ease the anxiety you might feel before and while playing in front of others.
Get Your Breathing Under Control
While we all know how important breathing is, it can also help you with being nervous. Breathing can help you ease and regain control of your body. If you start playing while your adrenaline is through the roof, you might have issues with subtle finger movements and precise playing.
The first thing you should consider is focusing on breathing. This will allow you to take your mind off the thing that’s bothering you the most. While it might sound ridiculous at first, you’ll notice how calmer you become if you focus on long inhales and exhales. As a result, you’ll play better.
Being Nervous Is Normal Just Keep Playing
It is essential to remember that you are not the only one with this issue. It is normal to be scared when you are doing something new. However, the more you play in front of other people, the easier it will become.
Probably every guitar player in history had this issue. The reason for this is that you spent hours and hours practicing and then you wonder if you are good enough or if the audience will notice how much effort you put into this. These thoughts are not only wrong but can sometimes increase the level of anxiety the players feel. Just remember that this happens to everyone and it is perfectly normal to be a little anxious.
Practice What You’re About To Perform
Practice makes perfect. There is no way around it, and you should know that that’s the only thing that makes excellent guitar players. With enough practice, you will be able to ease the whole process of playing in front of others. If you practice the songs you’re about to perform, and you practice it enough, you will be a lot less nervous and anxious before your performance.
Furthermore, with enough practice, your muscle memory will improve. Once the songs become a part of your muscle memory, it will be much easier for your hands to take control even if you are nervous. This way, you will be able to play the song even if your brain “forgets” what it has to do.
The practice is probably the most important part of guitar playing, and you can hardly find anything that will work as well as a solid practice.
The key to being a successful and good guitarist is in practice. There are many players who’d say that you shouldn’t stop practicing when you can play something right, but can you play it without making a mistake?. You’d be surprised how much you can achieve through simple repetitions and practice. You probably heard it many times that you should practice, and there is a reason why everyone says so. Practicing at any level will increase your confidence and you will be able to play perfectly without any mistakes.
Start With A Small Audience
It is always a good idea to start small. Start by playing a few songs for your friends, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your kids, anything. By having a small audience of maybe one or two persons will make it easier for you to upgrade from there. If you are comfortable playing in front of two or three people, you’ll notice how little difference it makes if there are ten people in the crowd and so on.
You don’t have to jump straight to Carnegie Hall or to play in a stadium. That sounds scary for everyone. But if you start small and build your way up, you will notice how easier it becomes.
If you wait for someone to ask you to play something, it is possible that you’ll feel like you are not ready. This can only make things worse if you have anxiety issues and fear of playing in front of others. The thing you should do instead is to prepare yourself and invite them to hear you play. This way, you are the one that is in control and the one that is making calls. While it might sound the same at first look, it can make all the difference in the world. This doesn’t have to be an hour-long performance, and you don’t have to make a big deal out of it. Instead, learn one or two songs that you feel comfortable playing and play it for one person.
Try Playing With Others
One of the best ways to improve as a musician and overcome your fear of playing in front of others is by finding a group of friends that you can share an adventure with. Ideally, these friends will have a similar experience, and you will be able to grow together. If they share the same passion for music as you do, you will be able to improve together and you will share a special bond.
The best option is if you have a friend who is also a guitarist. This way, you will be able to learn something new, and they might point to your mistakes if you make any. Not only that you will become more courageous, but you will also have a chance of learning something new that can prove to be useful.
Not only that you will be able to ease all the troubles and anxiety, but you will also learn a lot about playing with other people. You will be able to improve your tempo, your guitar skills, and you will feel more comfortable playing in front of others.
While this is not always an option for everyone, it would be perfect if you could try something like this.
Focus On What You’re Playing
Looking at the audience, no matter how big or small it is, might just make the situation worse. They will be waiting for you to play, and you might misjudge that look as an impatience. Just start playing and forget that anyone is there. What you want to do is pretend that you are playing for yourself and just do what you want and what you enjoy.
Interestingly, people can sense that you love something and that you enjoy doing it. The only reaction to this can be positive, and you should relax as much as possible. Of course, it is sometimes easier said than done. However, this is normal too. By keeping your focus on the guitar and what you’re playing, you will be able to perform more naturally and with less stress.
If you focus on the strings, the feeling, and sensation of each string, the note that you play, you will eventually forget that anyone is there. The great thing about the music is that it can carry you away if you just let go. Feel the music, and play for yourself. If you are satisfied, other people will be too.
Drink Some Tea
One of the things you can try is chamomile tea. Before your performance, drink tea. Chamomile is proven to be helpful with easing anxiety, and you should feel relaxed before you start playing. This way, you will be able to approach everything a bit calmer and more relaxed. When you are relaxed, you will be in full control of your fingers and it will be easier for you to play.
When we are nervous or when we have an adrenaline rush, our fingers will become clumsy and every move will be a lot less fluent. Finally, the very act of sipping a tea is calming for some people and it will help you prepare better for your upcoming performance.
Your Audience Are Just Regular People
Another thing that guitarists usually forget is “regular” people are not pro guitarists. Sometimes you may have a feeling that If you make a mistake everyone heard how you missed the note and it is the end of the world. But in reality, no one cares. They came to enjoy some good music and the songs they love. The chance that a professional musician will be sitting in your audience is slim to none. Usually, there will be regular people who either don’t play, or they do and understand that mistakes happened.
Usually, the only person the notices that mistake is just you.
The Show Must Go On
Everyone makes a mistake from time to time. The important thing is to continue. If it happens that you made a mistake, you should just continue as if nothing happened. And more importantly, don’t think about it. The worst thing for your self-confidence would be to think about that mistake and what others might think about it.
Even if it happens that you miss a note, get back on track and continue. Thinking about it will only make things worse, and there is a chance that you’ll more mistakes. If you understand that mistakes happen and that you should continue playing as if nothing happened can be a big boost to your confidence. If you think that you are the only one that made a mistake, check how many famous guitarists make mistakes while performing in front of thousands of people and they are still loved.
Rehearse The Songs
The other thing you can do is practice the performance. Practicing the performance is a bit different than practicing alone at home. The practice is something you do on your own. Rehearse is playing whole songs. Learn how to play a whole song from the beginning until the end.
Repeat this until you feel that there is no way to mess it up. You can also use backing tracks to play with “the band.” In the beginning, you will play with the recording of other musicians, and eventually, you can try playing with another guitar player. You don’t have to find a full band from the start. Remember to go slow and one step at a time.
It Will Get Easier
Playing in front of other people is the same as playing the guitar. When you started playing, everything was difficult. But in time, you improved. The same goes for stage fear. Try playing as much as you can and try playing in front of at least one person. If you are comfortable enough, you can play in front of two or three friends, and the more you do it, the easier it will get.
As time goes by, and you play more and more in front of other people, you will notice how easier it is. The more you play in front of others, the better you’ll become at being yourself and overcoming the fear of playing. Stage fear is common, but it is something that is conquered by practicing. This time, instead of practicing scales, you will practice playing in front of a crowd, regardless of its size.
You are who you are. And that is great. Never try to be something you’re not. If you feel comfortable jumping around while playing, do that. If not, don’t try to force yourself. You will get a much better result if you just relax and play the way you feel you should. There is no rule to how you should act while playing, and if standing in one spot while playing is your thing, then that’s the best thing you can do.
You shouldn’t play to impress anyone but yourself. As soon as you realize that everyone is imperfect, you can start enjoying the music and the very act of playing the guitar.
Overcome The Fear Of Failure
The main issue all of us have when we play in front of others is the fear of failure. By dreading the potential mistake, we will get so anxious that we will make a mistake. The only way to improve is by challenging yourself and putting yourself in situations that are out of your comfort zone. If you focus only on the things that you are well aware that you can do, you won’t have any space for improvement. Set your goals and try to reach them one step at a time.
Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself before you play. You can play as good as you can play at the moment. Tomorrow, you’ll improve, but today you are where you are. If you set your goals too high, you will focus on achieving perfection and forget to have fun. It is important to have fun and enjoy the moment. Think about how lucky you are to play an instrument at that you have a chance to play for other people. Embrace the moment you’re in, and forget about everything else. Mistakes happen and no one is perfect.
While there is so much advice you can get, the most important one is practice. Playing in front of others is the same as playing the F barre chord. It is difficult at the beginning, and every guitar player had issues with it. But over time, and with enough practice, you will be able to play it with ease. The same thing applies to play in front of other people. It is never easy. However, with enough patience, practice, and time, you will be able to enjoy and it will become easier. Just remember that you will reach this level, and you will be happy that you dared to do it the first few times when it was the hardest.
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