Hello ladies and gentlemen! How are you doing? Tony G from GuitarwithTonyG.com here and today I’m going to show you three remarkable tips on how to overcome stage fright. Make sure you stay tuned until the end of the video because I’m going to tell you about my personal ritual before every gig I play. Let’s jump right in!
Stage Fright?! You’re Not Alone
If you have stage fright, it’s a completely natural emotion for many musicians. I remember the first time that I ever got on stage and I had no idea that I would experience stage fright. Before I even got on stage, I was physically shaking and was terribly nervous.
I had no idea how to overcome stage fright at the time so I just got up there and had a knot in my stomach for about 25 minutes. In fact, it didn’t even go away until after I had played for another half hour.
After that, I got such an adrenaline rush and became such a mix of emotions! This is also a very common experience that musicians go through and it can be quite the roller coaster.
However, if you want to skip the stage fright and jump straight to the adrenaline rush, I will show you three remarkable tips on how to overcome stage fright!
Tip #1: Record Yourself Playing
My first tip for you is to record yourself playing the material before you get up on stage. It might seem a little silly to pull out your phone or tape deck and record yourself, but it puts pressure on you to play it perfectly.
When you can get a perfect recording, you know that you’ll be ready to play on stage with the added pressure. You will feel like you’re at your best with your performance and it will help with your stage presence.
In the video, I play a solo that I had been working on for a few days and you can see me doing my best to play it perfectly. I make a couple of mistakes but that just goes to show that I need to practice a little bit more before I’m ready to play it on stage!
When you make mistakes, it will show you what you need to focus on. Isolate that section and work hard on it before throwing it back into the whole piece! For a really detailed guide on how to really hone in your practice, check out this awesome Guide to Better Practice to learn all the techniques that the pros use.
Let’s move on to tip number two!
Tip #2: Memorize the Material
When you’re playing on stage, there’s nothing worse than having your eyes glued to an iPad or binder full of music. This takes away from your stage presence which I know from personal experience.
When I play cover gigs, I admit that I have my iPad on my mic stand because I don’t have all of the lyrics memorized for every single song. However, when I play shorter gigs, I make sure that everything is memorized so that I can really pay attention to my stage presence and give the crowd my best.
In order to memorize material, I recommend breaking it into smaller chunks and memorizing it bit by bit. Once you have a couple individual chunks memorized, put them together and see if you can play them seamlessly.
Compartmentalizing the different sections of a song will greatly help you memorize the whole piece effortlessly. This will lead you to overcome stage fright and have a great stage presence when you engage with the audience.
There are few things better than feeling the energy of the crowd as they get into the music and it’s something that will stay with you forever. When they clap and cheer, it will give you that adrenaline rush and you’ll be off to the races!
Let’s move on to tip three.
Tip #3: Play for Friends
Another great tip to overcome stage fright is to play the material for a small group of friends or family. In fact, you can even turn your back to them and just have them in the room! This will help simulate what it’s like to play in front of people and will help you acknowledge the feelings and help overcome them.
Make sure they are trusted friends or family members that will give you constructive criticism or positive encouragement. As musicians, we are typically our own harshest critics so it’s good to get feedback from other people. Sometimes the small mistakes we notice go completely unheard from the crowd so keep that in mind as well.
You have to remember that a lot of people you will be playing for won’t be musicians! That means that they will most likely be so enthralled with the music or lost in it that they won’t notice most small mistakes. If you’re playing an open mic, that’s a different story but grab a drink at the bar, talk to some other musicians and make some friends!
Let’s move on to some final thoughts.
My final thoughts on how to overcome stage fright are this: It’s tough for ANYONE to get up on stage and play the first gig! Like I mentioned earlier, I was shaking so bad when I played my first gig. However, once you realize that you’re in it and there’s no way out except to finish the gig, if you accept that and put your best into it, you will feel like a Greek god!
Overcoming Performance Anxiety
Performance anxiety is a very natural thing and sometimes you just want to jump off the stage and run away. The reality is that you’ve got to try and control those nerves as you get into your element. Everyone has a different routine or ritual before getting up on stage and I challenge you to find yours!
You might try listening to music in your car before the show. Maybe you can try breathing exercises or even do a little meditation to alleviate your anxiety. The reality of it is that it might take you 50 gigs to get over it. For some people it’s less, for some people it’s more but eventually you will conquer it!
At this point, I’ve played over a thousand gigs and although I don’t get nervous anymore, I still get anxious because I’m ready to jump up on stage and rock out! The adrenaline rush I get once I’m on stage is the most amazing feeling and it’s something I always look forward to. Even when I was playing 5-6 gigs a week, I would look forward to every single one of them even though I was anxious about them.
Stage Presence: Upping Your Game
Although it can be scary to get up on stage, I always find it’s a very spiritual experience. It’s an emotional roller coaster but in the end, you will be so happy that you did it. Even if it seems like you’re never going to get over your stage fright or performance anxiety, I promise that you will start to crave the feeling of being on stage. You will start feeling like a champion every time you get up there and that will really appeal to the crowd.
When you’re feeling good on stage, the crowd will see that and be drawn in! There’s nothing better than the electricity shared between an artist and a crowd and I can’t wait for you to experience that. Your life will never be the same.
My Pre-Performance Ritual
Ok, I promised that I would tell you my pre-performance ritual so here it is: Before each show, I take what I call a, “Pre-Performance Potty” or a “P.P.P.” When I’m about to play a show, even now after playing over a thousand gigs, my stomach knots up tight from the anxiety and so I have to run to the bathroom right before I get on stage.
Everyone else is usually ready to go and then they look around and ask, “where’s Tony?” Well, I’m in the bathroom and then I run to the stage, throw my guitar strap over my shoulder and the magic starts.
It’s just a small price to pay for the euphoria I feel at the end of a show and I can’t wait for you to have a similar experience!
I hope that these tips will help you overcome stage fright and get you into the mood to go out and play a gig! I’m always rooting for you so if you need any encouragement, just let me know!
For other great free lessons like this, please check out guitarwithtonyg.com!
Have a wonderful 2020!