View Full Version : stage fright

10-02-2002, 06:21 AM
I play at an open mike night, and every time i getup to lay my hands shake uncontrollably and i get relly nervous etc. I never play anywhere near as well on stage as I do at home. What can I do to get over this, other than playing lots more publically? How have other people got over it? Also, where can I get some information on singing? I have a very powerful voice, but I have difficulty ballancing between really quiet and really loud . I guess there is more to singing than just being able to project your voice. Should I just practise the tunes heaps so there is hardly any way I can **** them up? Does practising with a metronome help solo performence, or is only important for band playing?


10-02-2002, 10:35 AM
Hi there Gareth,

and welcome @ ibreathe.
About your stage-fright: I think that some "symptoms" you can´t get rid of... that adrenaline rush is something that even people who´ve been gigging for 30 years still get. And it actually is a cool thing, some kind of excitement which adds to the whole event. I remember someone saying "If I ever lose that excitement that I get before I hit the stage, I´ll just quit".

But it shouldn´t be as bad as you describe it. To get rid of those extreme effects, there are several things you can do. Of course, as you mentioned, it helps to play out as much as possible to feel kinda comfy on stage.
One thing that helped me was to change my whole attitude.
There were times when I was so excited and nervous, it wasn´t even funny. Not enjoyable at all. So I was actually kinda glad when the whole show as over... which I thought was not cool, because after all, performing is what it´s about, isn´t it ?
Well, I really thought about it, and I was like "OK, I am as prepared as I possibly can, I worked on my playing for so long, now let´s get out there and enjoy it. There´s nothing I have to worry about". Basically, I talked myself into being self-confident.
This sounds as if it was quite easy, but it took quite some time.
And it worked. I went up there and was like "Man, I sat there for years working on my chops, on my playing. It´s time to get up here and use it. And I don´t have to be afraid"
It was a bit like closing your eyes, trusting and letting yourself fall.
And that worked.
Of course, the best method is to do it over and over again to get really used to it.

Hope this helps
Warm regards

NP: Planet X- MoonBabies

10-03-2002, 09:45 AM
I agree with everything Eric says. Best is to talk yourself into being selfconfident. This may take some time & practice ....

Personally, I always think about the audience. Why are they here? They wanna have fun - wanna party. They don't really care about your playing or if there's a mistake. More important is the vibe you bring accross .... have fun and party yourself

Sure, there are always those other musicians that watch you in a suspicious way, looking at you as if you are a complete fool. But, these guys will never enjoy a gig anyway and they also will never buy your music .... so, ignore 'em


10-03-2002, 01:35 PM
Originally posted by Guni

Sure, there are always those other musicians that watch you in a suspicious way, looking at you as if you are a complete fool. But, these guys will never enjoy a gig anyway and they also will never buy your music .... so, ignore 'em

Guni of course is referring to what I call the "musicians police" here... I wrote about them in the forums before.
Don´t midn them. And if they make comments while you´re up on stage... walk over to them and ask them where they are gonna play their show that night. Because usually, they don´t have any gigs. That should shut them up :)

The Bash
10-04-2002, 05:15 AM
I can’t say I ever played a gig where I wasn’t nervous to some degree, though I’d attribute more to a state of anxiety. I just couldn’t wait to plug in and play and know everything was going to work (equipment wise, for me and the band). A lot has to do with, in my case, with being the business man (booking gigs/promo etc.) musician sitter (making sure everyone knows where there suppose to be and when), so once everyone was in place and everything semi-tested (a lot of places frown on full blown sound checks) some of the anxiety was alleviated. Once you kick into the first couple tunes and know your fingers are working (being musician/roadie is hard to always get properly warmed up and a lot of bars must have something against hot running water not to mention heat in general during the cold months) the good side of the anxiety can take over (the almighty adrenaline factor). That goods sides always gonna be there, or I should say: Should always be there or You really got no business standing up there in the first place. I Know that’s a harsh statement but if you don’t care enough about what your doing to be a bit nervous/anxious then no one else is gonna care either. And this is what most people see “The Passion”. If you got passion your halfway there. I don’t care if you got chops. I don’t care if you’re the most tastefull guy on the planet. You got no passion, I don’t wanna watch it. Ironically enough it’s rather hard to develop good chops and taste without passion.

Consider two things.
1) Most people want you to do well. The music’s the bus and there waiting for the diver to pick em up and sweep em off to never-never land. The Music Police have serious issues of their own, don’t let them down you. I admit I’ve actually made a mistake while playing, I’ve those nights where I personally felt I suck. And I doubt I’m alone in this I’ll go as far as to say anyone who has never felt this way at least once is either a) lying or b) has serious issues with self perception. And yet, besides all that I still dare call my self a guitarist.

2) Does being nervous really matter. Sure the hands shake, not the biggest asset in the world but hey good for some really wicked wide vibrato. But seriously, Allow Thou Self to be Nervous. By drawing attention to it your highlighting the fact. Build it and they will come. Well if you build a shrine to nervousness, nervousness and all its physiologically unsettling relatives will come pouring in by the droves. Nervousness is acutely gregarious. Ignore a highly gregarious individual and they tend to go away. Ignore nervousness and it tends to do the same. Then your left with adrenaline. Yippie. Adrenaline rocks!
Simply accept your nervousness. Make light of it, say to yourself, “Damn I’m nervous. Check out my hands there shakin like leaves. Look at that leg just a quivering away.” Now you’ve taken control. Now it see’s your not heeding him or even worse making fun of him, he’ll go away.

As far as Stage vs. Bedroom playing. You’ll never play like you do in your room on stage. Likwise the same is true in reverse. There two different objects. You’ll do somethings better. You’ll do somethings worse. There’s things that happen on stage you could never recreate in your bedroom in a thousand lifetimes. That’s what makes the stage special.
Well that’s my nightly Ramble.

NP- Racer X “YRO” –Gee, he play’s this just a touch faster than I Do :) Oh, well I always like to get my butt blown away before I practice. Gives me inspiration.

10-06-2002, 12:04 PM
A certain amount of stage fright will never go away - and that's good. It keeps you concentrated and on your toes.
There are some ideas to decrease nervousness and they have already been mentioned. Gary Moore once said in an interview that he does not allow anybody in his room before a gig, not even his wife - he's that "nervous" / anxious / concentrated.

It also helps to imagine the worst possible thing that could happen - and you'll see that you're probably worrying too much.
People are there to listen to you - they want to like you and it will need quite a bit of convincing from your side to make them not to.

What if you make a mistake?

A smaller mistake will not even be noticed by most of the audience. The way how you deal with bigger mistakes will decide the audience reaction. Smile and let them know that you're nervous and keep on playing.

10-06-2002, 01:16 PM
There are no mistakes, only opportunities for creative recovery.
Learn to use the adreniline and push your thinking ahead. Adreniline makes your mind quicker and you can be thinking about the next idea. The bad part is the vibratto suffers and becomes quick and nervous, this requires lots of work to counteract. Your conviction is the most important thing on stage.
Believe that you are going to do it right, look someone in the audience in the eye and send them that message of confidence.
If you can do that with everyone in the audience during your set.
The crowd behaves like a pack of wild dogs, if you are scared and shaking (timid) they will move in for the kill, but if you are aggressive and tough, then you have them where you want them.

Believe you are going to play your best and that you could play with your feet and it would stiil be good.

One more thing, somtimes onstage when you have become more comfortable, you will find your self watching your self play( or the women dance) and thinking about other stuff, this is very cool. You might start panicing that you don't remember the lyrics or the lick or chord that is coming up. don't let this worry you, if you just relax and let it happen the lick or words will spill out, and you will think 'Ahh that is what I was suppsed to do!'

03-22-2004, 10:41 AM
Stage fright can do one thing well, and that's keep things interesting! Whenever I am feeling nervous on stage I try to focus on something that's not a person without giving the impression I'm not playing to the crowd. Work on your Stage presence, create a face to go with the music. Something that works for you, especially if it's real may have a surprising affect on someone in the audience. You can use your fright to your advantage, closing your eyes to block out all but the music communicates as confidence and giving yourself over to your craft. Zone into yourself until the performance is over and the audience will zone into you as well. It's amazing to notice a room full of chat go silent because all they can focus on is you and how into your music you have suddenly become, then, the best part is, they can't help but get absorbed into it as well. So basically, try and forget everything but playing, performing and the way it makes you feel, forget you are playing for anyone else. This has worked well for me in the past.

03-22-2004, 10:58 AM
Oops! Ranted so long there on stage fright, I forgot about the singing!!!
I'm basically a self taught singer so the things I'm gonna say here may be a bit unconventional, but they worked for me, so here goes!
If you have a powerful voice, work with it, belt it out whenever you can, just remember not to force it. If you have an empty house and no one around to bother you put on a tune you know and love and sing the **** out of it, or do it on a long lonely drive with a cd in your stereo, somebody else's voice singing along (i.e, whoever recorded it) can make you feel more confident. To work on power and strength I find that if I pick a visual focus and litterally sing at it, (i.e something at or something above eye level, a nail on the way, a photograph hanging, a crack in the paint, anything will do) I can hone in and really focus my task. Keep your mouth relaxed and round whenever possible. Think about filling the room with sound, with your voice, and yes, sing the same stuff over and over again, if there's a note you can't get in a phrase just sing that phrase over and over and over again. As far as power vs soft and sweet, maybe it's a breathing thing. Learning how to use your diaphram when you breathe will give you a lot more control all over the map. There's lots more I could write here, but I'm in danger of rambling (okay, I'm already rambling) hope this helps a little, these are just a few things that work for me. When in doubt, just sing, just do what you feel, find your own groove, and then it's all cool!

04-13-2004, 06:12 PM
I have the same problem that Gareth has (hands shake uncontrollably). I had some relatives come to my house over the weekend, & when I tried to play for them, my picking hand shook really bad. I played for a while & later on it quit shaking. But, @ the beginning, I had to do almost all legato stuff cuz I couldn't pick fast @ all. Is there anything that I could do at the beginning of playing to relax? I mean, I was only playing for a few family members, & I wasn't nervous @ all (no adrenaline rush, etc...) I felt perfectly comfortable mentally, but when I tried to play, my picking hand shook badly. It really suprised me. Thanks to everyone for the advice on mental preperation!! Is there anything that can be done to stop the physical effects? Like I said, I wasn't nervous @ all; I guess my body was?!?

P.S. I warmed up like I normally do---stretching hands under warm water, so it wasn't cuz of coldness, tightness, or weakness.

04-13-2004, 07:15 PM
Take a quick drink of whiskey or so, usually sorts your nerves out.

04-13-2004, 07:35 PM
I used to have stage fright the first couple of gigs i played. But then the third time i told myself, You can do this, you have people cheering your name out there. That always helps it go away, the fact you have people shouting your band's name "REWIND! REWIND!" It makes it all go away. I havent had it since.

04-13-2004, 09:39 PM
If you're prepared properly, just remember, worrying will not help, theres nothing else you can do to play better...you will play a lot better just relaxing. ;)

A little thing to remember; people are there to listen to you play, and enjoy you; even if you make a mistake, no-one will care, it's human, it's natural, just remember, the audience aren't there in the hope that you do badly, they are there to enjoy your music :)

04-14-2004, 09:17 AM
One of the most important things to do before a performance to help calm yourself down is breathe! It's very easy to forget to do it, but if you can remember to take a few slow, even breaths before you strum a note it does help. Think of it as a way of centering yourself, directing your focus. First, find a comfortable posture, to stand or sit in and then before you focus on your playing focus on just breathing, it's the same as the principle behind taking a deep breath before letting your temper explode. That kinda thing. I often get the shakes just before I'm about to perform, all over shakes and I'm worried my playing will suck and my vibrato will sound like it's on hyperspeed, I take a few really deep breaths and I feel better immeadiately. I don't know if it's nerves or excitement or just the fact that I know I am in the spotlight and all eyes are on me. In some ways I think performing can be a very intimate thing for a lot of us, and so you make yourself vulnerable when you know and can see people are watching you. If you are calm and comfortable it will make for a better start and I usually find I find my own performance groove soon after, as long as you have a good start you can get through it.

04-21-2004, 03:06 PM
I think a huge factor is how comfortable and confident you are with playing whatever you are playing. The stuff I play in the band is technically easy (to me anyway; everyone always says it's really hard, but there's no economy or anything). So I can go into the gig knowing I'll play well. I'm not someone who's comfortable being looked at by a load of people outside of the band; I can be quite introverted. But when playing, the confidence in one's own playing is a key factor for staying relaxed.

04-22-2004, 07:35 PM
I have a kind of stage fright... um... thing. I can usually play without being nervous (I mean, I always am a little, but that's normal right?) But here's the catch: I've been working on my vocals, and I had my mom listen, and she thinks I'm alright. But I get way embarassed singing out loud to a group of people. Is there anything I can do to stop this? Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. ._.;

04-23-2004, 01:14 AM
Just keep doing it. If you know you're ok at it, and you enjoy it, you just need to keep doing it.

04-27-2004, 10:00 AM
What I do is:
Just look foreward and DONT THINK! Just breath and try to calm down....


04-28-2004, 03:27 PM
It's a prob that 98 of 100 of us have.but you should not let it get over your talent.your stragergy should be simple on the stage.the main thing to remember is that when on stage you should think you are the best but while learning you should always keep a sense of competing with others it encourages you to develop faster.the conclusion is that stage fright is a normal problem.which you over come on your own.It disapears with experience.always try to go on stage do not hesitate by this you'll know where you are.;)

05-21-2004, 07:14 AM
I don't have too much gig experience, but one thing I found useful is to really enjoy your own playing, rather than always thinking about the details of your playing. Of course, this requires a lot of preparation.

Metal Dan
05-21-2004, 04:47 PM
Man... I had terrible terrible stage fright. I've played out MANY times... sometimes completely by myself and I just couldn't shake that feeling...
Then a few years ago I was at the NGW and your main class has to perform at the end of the week and you only get something like a half an hour a day to work it out with the "band" your teacher slaps together for you. I was having so much of a blast that by the time I was out on stage I didn't realize what had happened, lol

So the trick for me was not to think about it apparently... now I still get nervous... but it's not nearly as bad ;)

05-23-2004, 06:57 AM
Stage fright I once read is actually a chemical reaction in your body as a result of overwhelming stress. It was in a book called "All Thumbs and No Fingers" that I read a few years back. It's a really awesome book and it's not just for guitarists, but for every musician.

Anyway, he goes on to say that once the process is started, you're basicly screwed. Ever hear the advice given to performers: "Don't get cold feet." Well, when we get nervous our body senses this as danger and blood is drawn from our extremities. Kind of a natural instinct. Thus making out limbs less saturated with blood, thus making them cold and difficult to manipulate. What can we do to combat this chemical reaction? Don't think bad thoughts, be confident in you're impeeding performance. Most importantly, be PREPARED.

I recently had to audition for a music festival and I wanted to be confident for the audition. About a week before the audition i had chosen 4 peices to play and I had decided that I would feel confident and prepared if I was to play each song 250 times each in the week proceeding the audition. It was a tough week of only 4 songs and I had my checklist out. I ditifully played each song 250 times the week before and when I got on stage I FELT confident. I could not think of anything that I had not done. Well as it turns out I got the audition and in a few months I'll be playing for my largest crowd ever. About 3000 is expected and did I mention I play solo acoustic. Man.....I'm scared just thinking about it now. I seriously am. But I know what i have to do.....as well as building the chops for the festival I have to build my confidence. I wonder how many times I should play my set before the festival?.......


05-24-2004, 04:14 PM
I do get nervous on stage but I've learned to kind of control that feeling... use it in my behalf... just like in a rollercoaster... you're scared to death the first time you ride in one (I was little when I did) but the you kinda become addicted to that rush... it's the same on stage. I reciently (a few weeks ago) got to cover Satch's "The forgotten 2" and it was incredible to play that live... I felt every single note on it... of course before I performed, I practiced that song for about 4 weeks (and I already "knew" it) just to be sure I could play it in my sleep and if I got a "stage block" (I've seen some people get so scared that they panic and they just forget everything...) I would still be able to do it in "auto-pilot" so when I got on stage I wasn't as scared and I even did an extended outro of the song, and that performance went good (I actually got congratulated by a Satch fan so that really made me feel good :) )

The confidence of being well prepared is a really good thing when you have students and fellow teachers staring at you on stage and it seems like they can see every single flaw in your technique and every little mistake... So even with the most critic audience you can get your nerves down a little with some practice, then if you get the usual crowd who just wants to rock then it's a treat to play, you can just play Green Day all day long and they won't care weather your palm muting is perfect and your timing is exact.

There's audiences and there's performances, you'll be extremely satisfied with some and overwhelmly disapointed with others... the important thing is whatever one you get, like they say around here, "cowboy up"; get up on your feet again and try, be hard headed, if people think you suck, prove them wrong, don't let anyone tell you what you can and can't do. There's where the ego should come out (instead of when judging someone else's performance).

While I am in the Ego subject there was an old eighies joke: "How many guitarists do you need to change a light bulb?... Three; One to actually do it and two to sit among the audience and say 'I can do that' " Don't be like those, be fair to those still in their eary days of musical growth and respect those with more experience than you (even if you don't share their musical taste).

Sorry I kind of slid out of the subject but I thought of this while reading Guni and Eric's posts about the so called "music police" it's one of the things that infuriates me, I mean, it's still painful to an acomplished musician to hear things such as "you suck" or things in the same caliber, just imagine the harm done to those who are just starting...

Anyways, I'd better stop before I start ranting (too late :D )


05-30-2004, 01:59 AM
My very first performance was 5 years ago and I was 10. It was a simple violin piece with a beginner orchestra. I was scared to death but pulled through. One year later I had my first solo in front of my entire church. I was on the borderline of paralysis I was so terrified. There were numerous mistakes and my perfectionist side was disappointed.

But when I finished the song the audience still clapped, and I realized they really didn't care. In the end, people won't care if you mess up. It's not a competition and they're not judging you (most of the time). Maybe it will take one night of a completely lousy performance, but soon enough you'll figure out that people just want to hear your music.

jazz girl
08-24-2004, 08:48 PM
I play the organ at church and sometimes still get a little nervous. In the beginning I was uncontrollably nervous, my hands shaking so much I could hardly press the keys.

I tried various things - herbal stress relief pills / Bach's Rescue Remedy / cans of energy drinks / vodka! etc but the one that worked best was a couple of hypnotherapy sessions which I really recommend. Here's one little thing we did:

Think of as many great memories as you can - between three and five are probably OK. These have to be really good ones, that you can remember vividly. Close your eyes and press your thumb and second finger together firmly and think about the first memory in as much detail as you can - the sounds, the smells etc. Feel that rush of adrenaline and that fantastic feeling. Open your eyes and release your finger and thumb. Do this with each memory. The stronger the feeling the better.

Now, when you're at the gig or anywhere where you are feeling nervous, concentrate and press the same thumb and finger together and you will get a rush of emotion like the surge of a tidal wave - all those great feelings from fantastic experiences all rolled into one. It usually gives you enough lift to get over the initial fright to get stuck in and by the time it wears off you are enjoying yourself.

If you try it and it doesn't work you need to concentrate a bit harder or use some happier experiences. Make sure you concentrate hard and are warm, cosy and very relaxed when you are trying it out. You can also add new memories at any time.

Since trying it for myself I was complimented many times on my new found composure!

09-15-2004, 06:42 AM
There have been many excellent suggestions on this thread already. I've been teaching guitar and playing professionally for nearly 30 years, and I have a few suggestions that can make some of these issues easier.

1) Use a metronome when you practice.

This might seem almost ridiculous at first, but consider ... what most people are worried about when they contemplate playing in front of others is 'making mistakes.' We all know that mistakes are a part of life. They're part of the human condition. But many people who worry about making mistakes, never bothered to slow their practice down by means of the metronome, and then worked it up to speed gradually. The smart player will work it up to perhaps 10-20% faster than they will be called upon to play it live. If you can play the piece 20% faster than you'll need to ... then you won't worry so much about mistakes. If you haven't practiced with a metronome and don't know if you can really play the piece at tempo --you'll certainly stress over this. The metronome lets you quantify your own performance.

2) Don't play memorized solos

Oh, okay ... do it when you want to ... If you really transcribed 'Stairway to Heaven' and want to play that solo ... then fine. And I do admit that transcribing solos is a great way to learn. But keep in mind that Jimmy Page improvised that solo after having thought out what he wanted to do ... Why not improvise your own solos? I suppose you CAN make mistakes in improvised solos too ... you start an idea, can't finish it, and hit a few bad notes in the process ... but you'll grow as a musician each time you do this. If you've actually memorized all your solos, then you have a much greater chance of making a 'mistake' on any given night.

3) Study Karate ...

... Or at least Karate learning methodology. In Karate, there can only be one 'greatest' at any one time, can't there? The guy who wins the international tournament competetions?

We guitar players do this warpo thing to ourselves all the time. If I'm not the BEST ... then I'm XXXX. But think about it ... can there really only be one best guitar player in the world? Guitar is so much bigger than one person's experience. Do we really think that Birelli Legrene, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Pass, Pepe Romero, Joe Satriani, and Michael Hedges could all do the same things? Karate students quickly learn that there is no way they can defeat all the big cats out there. If they're smart, they'll learn that they can do their best, fight hard and smart, and even if they're defeated, they earn respect--if for nothing else than for honoring the disicpline. This is true in music too ... even for the 'music police.' They may bad mouth you ... but they see you out there trying ...

If you're constantly trying to figure your 'position' on the world wide 'pecking order' of guitar players ... you're missing something important. You also have to defend against anyone who wants to prove themselves better than you.

Best to all,


09-15-2004, 12:18 PM
That right there my friends was a great post. I have nothing to add.


09-17-2004, 05:01 AM
Thanks. Great comments above, too, Jorge ...

03-23-2005, 04:55 PM
dude i REALY have stage fright to. what are some ways i can work in my vocals so that they sound good on stage. and how can i stop getting so nervous that i shake all over and it won't stop and then i don't sound good. so HOW CAN I MAKE IT SSSSSTTTTOOOOPPPP!!!!!!.


03-23-2005, 06:38 PM
Hey mate,

Im probably too late with this reply but I jabber on anyways :rolleyes:
Theres a great article on this site about stage fright that might help you.
But I personally think you never really lose that nervousness,stage fright whatever you want to call it.And I too think thats part of the buzz,that great feeling you get from preforming.
I remember hearing I think it was Charlie Christianson ?? not sure, who said at that before every show he wanted to cancel but then after every show he wanted to go back out and do it again.
Still I think that we,spend so much time woodshedding,practicing,writing too play for other people.So then when it comes to preforming your songs its a shame too stress so much that it ruins,your song,the audiences experinence.
And in the end thats what its all about conveying your feelings,emotions etc to another human being,or a 1000 of them :confused:
And for the Music Police:D I like that.It reminds me of a old joke,how may guitarists does it take to change a light bulb ?? 101.1 to do it and the other 100 to nod and say "not bad,but I could have done better".

So my advice is too just enjoy your show man,music is not a competition.

03-24-2005, 01:39 AM
ok. coool. but one question WHAT ARTICLE WAS IT. i had trouble finding it.
relived. but STILL confused

03-24-2005, 10:38 AM
The articles,theres 3 are in the General,under creativity header I think.

Theres some really good info in there.

03-24-2005, 09:29 PM
:cool: :cool: hey can some one tell me how to learn augistic gutar online. or can some body teach me on this site.:p :rolleyes: :D :D
sined happy/confused

03-24-2005, 09:35 PM
hey do any of you listen to country music? well if you do can you tell me what are some great country music lyric sites! ttyl :rolleyes: :D

04-10-2005, 04:44 AM
Elvis' stage fright made him shake. And when he 'shaked', he 'shaked' the world. Stage fright can be an adavantage.