Dear Making Music,
I finally took the leap and formed a band. We have been rehearsing together for about six months and some of the guys are itching to get a “real” gig. I am hesitant because the last time I was on a stage I became so anxious that I nearly passed out. I could feel my heart pounding and felt like I couldn’t move, let alone play my guitar. Do you have any tips for getting over this so I don’t let my bandmates down?
›› When I played in concerts and recitals in middle school, high school, and college, I’d also get nervous. My tip to help myself get “pumped” about a performance was to listen to powerful music. It could have been Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter” or Matthew Wilder’s “Break My Stride.” It usually helped me focus and walk on stage more confidently.
Ann Ittoop, Flutist
›› I have performed in front of thousands of crowds, and know exactly how to overcome stage fright: 1) Preparation is everything; 2) practice makes perfect; 3) rehearse in front of a small group of people. Also, smiling is essential. It shows confidence. Wear clothing that you feel will uphold who you are. Be ready to overcome any obstacle on stage. The audience sees you quite differently. You’ll get over stage fright once you realize how much love is waiting in the crowd.
Tralian, Musician and
Palm Springs, California
›› One little known fact about me is that I studied music (classical piano performance) during my first two years in college. Back then, I had a secret about overcoming stage fright: record yourself! When you see that blinking red light, you get the same feeling that you get on stage. The goal is to go all the way through without messing up. When no one’s looking, it’s easy to get it right. But with the recorder on, it’s like someone is looking.
CEO Lease Advisors
›› I’m a family physician and music is my outlet from the stress of practicing medicine. At least that’s what I used to tell myself. The only problem was that playing in front of people was sometimes more stressful than working in the emergency room on Friday the 13th. Things that have helped me overcome it: breathing slow and deep; making sure my “axe” is right, so I don’t have unforeseen glitches; knowing the material well; taking notes or chord charts with me on stage to remind me of chords and key signatures; and knowing what I’m gonna say or do when I first go to the keyboard to start the song. I had to learn to release my ego and just get up there and do the best I can, flow with the music, and enjoy the moment.
Dr. Clarice Bell,
›› I’ve been playing professionally for the five years after overcoming addiction. When I stopped drinking I started to write music as a way of coping with my problems. Having been a professional actor for 12 years, I never expected stage fright. But when I first played live, I had stage fright so bad that it seemed consuming. I eventually began meditation, visualizations, breathing exercises, and rationalizing fears each evening before gigs. I taught myself how to focus my nerves in a positive way. I also found, if I talked to people in between songs about why I wrote the songs, the less I feared the way they would be received. There are advantages to nervous energy, but it’s a fine line between what is healthy and what is debilitating.
Chatburn, United Kingdom
›› When I was in middle school, I had such bad stage fright I wouldn’t sing in front of my family. I knew I had to resolve my stage fright issue if I was going to be a professional artist. I started imagining my performance, like an athlete does. I would close my eyes and feel the stage under my feet, the microphone in my hands. I would see the crowd in my mind and perform for them the way I wanted to in real life. Over time, my brain got used to the images, feelings, sounds, and experience. Nine months later, I stepped on stage again for the first time with
Country Singer Songwriter
Editor’s Note: Need advice on band or music performance issues? We’ll put the question to the experts. Write to: Advice@MakingMusicMag.com. We’d love to hear from you.