Getting Over Stage Fright

10/09/2012 4:37 pm

Stage FrightDo you get stage fright?

If you feel a dark cloud looming over your head every time you have to speak in front of a group of people or sing a song on stage at a local open mic, don’t worry, you’re in good company. Stage fright affects more people than you may think and even seasoned artists, actors and musicians still get stage fright from time to time.

When I first started playing piano recitals, my palms would get sweaty, I would feel a pit in my stomach and the question that would come up over and over in my mind was, “Why in the world am I doing this?” The crazy thing about stage fright is that we voluntarily choose to be on stage. It’s not like anyone is threatening us if we don’t get up there.

So the good news is that we know that something inside of us desires to perform and it is obviously strong enough to get us to choose to put ourselves out in front of an audience. The tougher side of the coin is how do we learn to control our butterflies, jitters and stage fright enough to actually enjoy the moment? Here are a few tips that have helped me over the years.

  1. Play out as much as you can.At the end of the day it’s simple math: The more you put yourself in front of an audience, the easier it will get. Think about it, we practice for hours and hours yet only perform for minutes. It’s clear to see why we get nervous, we don’t do it enough.
  2. Practice your entire set at home. I have met so many musicians that write their set (order of songs) at the club never having rehearsed the song in that order as if they were performing. Transitioning from song to song has it’s own set of rules. Perhaps you want to tell a funny story about a song to introduce it. Whatever the case may be, make sure to ‘perform’ the entire set at home first working out the kinks.
  3. Make a check list of what to bring. It’s tough enough to go out and perform but nothing adds to those pre-show jitters like forgetting a cable, a music stand or a pick. Have a checklist and go through it before you leave home. That way, once you reach the venue, you can concentrate on the music and no extra worries will occupy your mind.
  4. Befriend the sound person. There’s only one thing that can ruin a great set and that is terrible sound. You may not always get a friendly sound person (they have to deal with a lot of musicians so be kind to them) but it’s your job to treat them with respect so you get a the best sound possible and a sound check.
  5. Remind yourself why you’re doing it in the first place. Sometimes in all the nervousness we tend to forget why it is we are playing the first place. Enjoy the art of creating music. Performing for an audience is a privilege very few people get to experience in this lifetime. It can be extremely rewarding if you enjoy the whole process.

Let the world hear your music. Getting butterflies is normal and in my opinion part of the fun. The only tragedy would be if it kept you from performing. Get out there and play!

I want to learn piano!