Ask any musician and they will tell you they have experienced stage fright at some point in their career. It doesn’t matter who you are, whether you sell out arenas and stadiums worldwide or are coming up to your first ever gig in your local bar, it’s understandable to feel nervous. These nerves can get the better of you, causing you to make mistakes that do not represent your genuine talent. If you have a gig coming up and feel nervous, consider these confidence-boosting tips.
Practice, Practice, Practice
There is no better substitute for practicing your instrument. It doesn’t matter if you’re still mastering the essential guitar chords for beginners or are going over a new song that will get foot stomping and arm waving, you won’t get very far without practice.
This is often what sets musicians apart. Those who only practice a couple of times a week will never be as good as those who spend hours working on their craft. The more you practice, the more confident you will be with the songs, and it will make any fretwork second nature.
Musicians, Put Yourself Out There
It’s understandable to be nervous if you’ve never played in front of an audience before, which is where the anxiety originates. You can work around this by putting yourself out there to give yourself a feel for how people might receive your performance.
One of the best ways to do this is by uploading videos to YouTube or similar sites, as strangers will view your work rather than anyone you know. Similarly, smaller gigs will help you prepare for larger attendances and make you more comfortable performing in front of an audience.
You shouldn’t only practice the songs you are going to play. If you want to be more confident, it is better to push yourself and go beyond what you willplay. If you attempt more complicated chords and songs, you will find your usual set much easier to manage because you know you have the skill to do more even if you don’t pull this out during the gig.
Get Advice From the Pros
Stage presence is a significant element of a successful gig, and the right presence can trick your brain into being more confident. Through this, you can fake it til you make it. Take inspiration from the pros, whether Hendrix, Richards, Page, Knopfler, or Gerard Zappa of Wooster, to get an idea of how they turned themselves into rock stars as soon as they stepped on the stage.
The audience will be able to tell if you’re nervous, and this can affect the energy surrounding the gig. By channeling rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest performers, you will generate the confidence you need.
Even the best guitarist on the planet can feel nervous in the days and hours before a big performance, but being prepared and trusting the skills you have worked on day and night will make you a better guitar player and will allow you to focus on the music rather than who you are performing for.
Craig Smith is a professional Guitarist, Teacher, and Writer living in Sanford, Florida. Craig has taught guitar lessons, performed 200+ gigs per year for nearly 30 years, and published 4 guitar instructional books. When he’s not gigging or writing, you may find him by the pool with his wife Celeste, 4 Chihuahuas, and a drink. 🎸