Stage fright is a super common experience for musicians at all stages. From beginners getting up for their first performance through to the most seasoned professionals feeling the pressure of a high stakes performance. Racing heart beats, sick stomachs, sweaty palm and more are just some of the symptoms. If you get stage fright or performance anxiety you are not alone, it is a completely natural experience and is connected to your body's survival mechanisms - in fight, flight or freeze.
Stage fright is about seeking approval from others, feeling threatened, wanting to do a great job and feeling the weight of that deeply inside us. It’s important for every musician to find a way of managing stage fright as it can certainly have a negative impact on a performance if not handled properly. There are many ways to do this and we have collected a few of those below. We hope you find something that works for you!
As we’ve said before, stage fright is entirely natural. Do not judge yourself harshly for feeling it, accept it and work on the management.
Work hard in your lessons and practice. Perform for your teacher, a friend, your family and ideally a group of people to get used to how your body reacts to stage fright. Once you know your symptoms you’ll be better able to treat them.
Consider your audience, your teacher, your family and others who are so excited about hearing you play. Focusing outward can help dull some of the noise going on inside.
Focus on what is going to go well and be prepared for how you will handle inevitable mistakes. Remember you will notice the mistakes much more than others will, so mentally prepare to make them and then simply move on.
Watch what you eat/drink before a performance. A full (or empty) stomach, caffeinated or sugary drinks, high fat foods, dairy and more can really mix up the body's natural balance.
If you notice your breathe starting to quicken or change, take some deep slow breathes. Lack of oxygen will cause your body to panic, which you may mistake for stage fright.
Pick a pump up song and play it to get you ready ahead of your performance. Try and go to the stage warm and ready, not cold and unprepared.
Move your body, stretch, jump, walk, pace, etc. Like music and breathing, moving your body so it is feeling warm and ready will significantly improve your act.
Nerves can tighten you up and make you feel like you need to go the toilet, make sure you get that done well ahead of time so you can focus on your music.
It’s a powerful, beautiful and generous thing to do. Performing for an audience is gift to them, allowing them to share in a moment with you. Be proud of yourself simply for showing up and giving it a go.