Stage fright is an affliction that affects all musicians from time to time. No matter how big your audience is, getting nervous on stage is part and parcel of the musical lifestyle.
So, to help you overcome your stage fright and ensure that you’re extremely well prepared for your upcoming gig, we’ve put together this article with seven expert tricks to help musicians.
They are all really simple to try and will have a huge impact on the level of your performance.
So, if you’re anxious about an upcoming live performance that you have in the diary, here’s what you need to do to overcome the nerves and deliver a show-stopping performance you will remember forever.
Seven tricks to help musicians overcome nervy performances
Trick 1: Get in the zone
Playing in front of a live audience can be scary; there are no two ways about it. The key to overcoming stage fright is to strengthen your mental fortitude, but how do you do that?
As you might imagine, it requires work and introspection. Mental fortitude is all about working through stress and anxiety and delivering a performance that your fans will adore.
Some musicians call this ‘getting in the zone,’ which is about taking active steps to disassociate yourself from the nagging doubt that is in the back of your mind when you prepare for your performance.
One way to achieve this is to meditate before heading on stage. Even short meditation sessions have been proven to sharpen focus and help to overcome anxiety.
So, as you’re preparing to head out on stage, take 5-10 minutes to yourself. Watch your breath as you inhale and exhale, and focus on what you’re about to do.
This will help you overcome many of the anxieties that you encounter as a musician, and it will help you beat the nerves as you’re performing to your fans.
Trick 2: Practice makes perfect
When it comes to tricks to help musicians, this is the oldest in the book – practice really does make perfect.
Think about it for a second. Why are you nervous? For many musicians, it’s the fear of forgetting lines or missing a note.
And if you simply rock up to a venue and expect a flawless performance without putting the work in beforehand, you will be disappointed.
Legendary guitarist Eric Clapton said he practiced at least 2-3 hours every single day. If he had a session in the lead-up to a gig, he would practice for at least 6 hours every day.
Although practice doesn’t rule out mistakes, it does make them less likely. After all, the whole point of practicing is to make your performance feel like second nature.
Whether you’re memorizing the words to a song or the notes in a guitar riff, you need to practice until you can do it without thinking.
If you step out on that stage without preparing, you’re preparing to fail. So, don’t underestimate the importance of practice when it comes to reducing your nerves on stage.
Trick 3: Visualize your performance
One trick that elite golfers use is to visualize their shots before executing their swings. The most successful golfer of all time – Jack Nicklaus – explained that visualizing every shot in advance was the key to his success.
And while we’ve taken this example from the world of sport, it’s undoubtedly an excellent trick to help musicians, too.
But, how exactly do you visualize your performance? Well, it can be linked to your pre-performance meditation that we introduced in trick one. Here are some steps to take before you take to the stage:
- Close your eyes and take some deep breaths.
- Envisage the venue in your imagination. Can you see the audience? How is the lighting setup?
- Run through the schedule in your mind and think about the tracks that you’re going to perform.
- Play the entire set in your mind, visualizing how you’re going to rock the stage. Positivity is so important when visualizing your performance.
While it might seem like a remarkably simple step to take before heading on stage, visualizing your performance is a way of reassuring your mind of what is about to take place.
After all, anxiety is born out of a feeling that you’re not prepared. Imagining how the performance plays out in your mind will help to allay some of your fears, and you will find that you’re more at ease when you take to the stage.
Trick 4: Practice self-care
There’s undoubtedly an underlying assumption that to be a successful musician; you need to live a hedonistic lifestyle and pay homage to the legends of rock and roll.
While some people can undoubtedly take to the stage drunk or high and perform an exquisite set, they are the exception, not the norm!
If you take to the stage when you’re tired, stressed, or inebriated, your ability to get into the zone and recall your lines is greatly reduced.
In fact, if you’re not in the right frame of mind, it’s nigh on impossible to deliver the perfect performance.
In this sense, it’s helpful to think of your performance as part of your daily work. Would you turn up to work drunk or in a bad state of mind? Probably not.
So, in the lead-up to your live performance, make sure you practice some self-care and ensure your body and mind are ready for the gig. You should:
- Get a good night’s sleep before the live performance and feel well-rested on the day of the event.
- Eat nutritious foods that boost your cognitive performance – fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc. Avoid processed foods where possible.
- Make sure you exercise regularly. Exercise releases endorphins which help you manage your stress levels, which is a great tip for managing your anxiety before a gig.
We’re not saying that you have to live like a monk, but you do need to think about the way that you prepare for a gig. This is a trick to help musicians that many new performers subscribe to, and it will undoubtedly help you manage your nerves as you take to the stage.
Trick 5: Schedule a rehearsal
To borrow from the sport again – would you compete in a 400m hurdle race without doing a warm-up? Almost certainly not!
In the music industry, a rehearsal is akin to a warm-up in sports. Not only is it important to get your voice in tune and your body in good shape, but a rehearsal is also vital for ironing out any issues with the gig.
After all, while your performance might seem flawless on paper, it might not flow particularly well when you take to the stage.
The same is true for your equipment. You need to cover all bases and ensure everything is working as it should.
If you get into your gig only to realize your mic is faulty, it can make things even more stressful for you than they need to be.
Whether you’re playing at a local village hall or a 20,000-seater arena, you need to schedule a rehearsal. It will also help you with your visualization on the day of the gig, as you can run through your set from the previous day.
Trick 6: Arrive early
One of the most stressful things in the world is being late. What’s more, lateness can affect self-confidence, and it can make you anxious.
In other words, being late to your performance is something that you need to avoid.
And in spite of what we tell ourselves, there are no excuses for being late. If you’re performing a gig in a city that you don’t know well, consider checking into a hotel nearby so you can easily walk there.
The more you rely on external factors to be on time, the more likely you are to be late.
You might be wondering – what do you mean by early? Well, the earlier you can be at the venue on the day or night of your performance, the better.
It’s your responsibility to check that all of your equipment is working and that everything at the venue is as it should be. If you arrive thirty minutes before the start time and realize that your amp is broken, there’s very little you can do about it.
You also need to arrive early so that you can get in the zone and visualize your performance. It’s really hard to do that when you’re sitting in the back of a cab, frantically looking at your watch and praying that you make it to the stage on time.
Trick 7: Believe in your ability
Our last trick to help musicians is one of the most important of them all.
Remember, you’re extremely talented, or you wouldn’t have the opportunity to play in front of a live audience! If people have come along to watch you play or sing, it means that you have a right to be there.
Although it’s natural for self-doubt to creep in, you need to believe in your ability and know that you’re going to put on a great show for your audience.
Some musicians use self-affirmations to emphasize their abilities, which can be another useful trick to incorporate into your pre-performance routine.
Speaking self-affirmations to yourself isn’t crazy, and it’s something that musicians and athletes do regularly. They help to diminish the voices of self-doubt in your mind and give you the confidence that you can perform to the best of your ability.
So, while it might seem a little strange at first, reassuring yourself that you have the ability to deliver a stunning performance will help you manage your nerves as you take to the stage.
Bonus trick: Are you ready to take your music to the next level?
Performing live on stage is an excellent way to showcase your talents as a musician, and it will also help your audience to grow.
To help you reach as many people as possible and to ensure your music continues on an upward trajectory, our Spotify Promotion services are undoubtedly worth considering.
Our targeted campaigns help you appear on the playlists of your choice, which can grow your following and enable you to earn royalties.
We also help musicians use YouTube to their advantage with scalable solutions that are suited to all budgets. Our YouTube plans will grow your pool of subscribers whilst delivering real engagement, helping you make in-roads on the platform in the early stages of your career.
The reason that promotion services are so important is that it’s difficult to organically establish your credentials as an artist when you’re new to the industry.
When people see that you have lots of followers and subscribers, they are much more likely to follow your channel. This will help boost your popularity and enable you to land live gigs long into the future.
If you’ve got a live gig coming up, it’s only natural to feel nervous. Whether you’re playing at a local or national venue, the thought of putting yourself out there in front of hundreds or thousands of people is daunting.
After reading through our top tricks to help musicians, we hope that you now have the confidence to deliver a memorable performance in front of your fans. Just make sure you try each of the tricks before taking to stage, and you will find your confidence soar as a result.