As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 15 – Spring 2021 – Electrified!
How do you deal with stage fright?
You know what? I actually don’t deal with stage fright very often. I’ve been very lucky in that way, I suppose. It’s almost as if I feel more at home on stage than I do in everyday life. A lot of other musicians will probably tell you the same thing.
I have definitely felt jitters in the past, though, before an important show or if I have to “show my stuff” for labels, judges, or industry peers. What I’ve done previously (and I don’t necessarily condone this behavior) is take a shot of whiskey to calm my nerves, or I’ve really just tried to sink into the moment and give in to the power of the song. I forget all about being scared when I’m busy having a great time and rocking out.
Another thing that has given me “stage fright” is a lack of preparedness. I’ve definitely felt nervous if I didn’t have enough time to practice or play a brand new song that no one has heard before. There are a lot of things that can go through your mind, like “Are they going to like it?” or “I hope I don’t mess up this one part.” You can get tripped up, and your fear can ultimately take you down, causing you to muck up your own song. I try to eliminate any possible uncertainty by making sure I know my material inside and out. It’s a sign of personal pride, and it shows that you care about yourself and your audience.
Other than making sure you know your songs cold, I would also recommend some breathing exercises before going on stage to calm your nerves. Remember that it’s okay to not be 100 percent perfect, especially on your first try; just be yourself. Assert yourself, stand tall, and be confident in who you are. Smile and engage your audience in a way that feels natural and think of them as your friends. You’re likely judging yourself far more harshly than anyone else in the audience. Eliminate any bad thoughts that may cause anxiety or fear by focusing on your greater purpose, which is contributing something of value to the audience.
Even if you don’t give what you may think is an extraordinary performance, what’s most important is that you put yourself out there and gave it your all. Ultimately, just have fun, and don’t ever let your own fear get in the way of your happiness or success!