How to deal with performance anxiety

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maggior

Registered User

Joined: 01/26/13

Posts: 1718

Originally Posted by: Kasperow
I can only agree with this. Everytime I practice with my family around, they keep telling me it sounds amazing, yet I can't see any improvement compared to where I was when I started. Maybe I should consider listening to what others think of me instead of what I think of myself...

Amazing article, Wildwoman. Another very well-written post that's still as easily readable as the other articles you've written. Keep up the good job :)


Same here. My wife hears me practicing downstairs and tells me it sounds great. I kind of dismiss it thinking to myself "she's just overhearing what I'm doing and not really listening...blah blah blah...". I shouldn't do that though. Ultimately, you are playing for an audience. If they like what you are doing, then mission accomplished!!

In my personal experience I found allowing myself to be less than perfect was the key - I was way too hard on myself. Performing in front of an audience became much more enjoyable once I did that.

As far as flubs go - I started out with a major one. I played acoustic guitar in the contemporary choir for our church. We had piano, guitar, flute, violin, and between 5 and 10 singers. We had practiced together for a couple of weeks before making our debut at mass. It was all good. I'm feeling confident. So we start the opening hymn and I strike the opening chord. Immediately, I think "ugh, this sounds horrible. What is wrong!?!?!? I'm playing the right chords!!" It was a nightmare come true...seriously. The piano player looks at me like "what the heck are you doing!!!". So I stop, which I could do since the piano was the forefront instrument. I then realized the problem - I was supposed to be using a capo. So I slapped my capo on quickly and moved on...ahhhh, that sounds better!! Even with such a horrible mess up, I don't think the audince really noticed. And if they did, they soon forgot all about it.

So I learned 2 things that day - 1) You can recover from the most horrible mess up and move on and 2) to denote capo usage (along with the fret placement!) *prominantly* on the top of my sheet music! Never happened to me again.
Go here to check out some of my playing
Go here to check out some of my duo's work

#21

Originally Posted by: Kasperow
I can only agree with this. Everytime I practice with my family around, they keep telling me it sounds amazing, yet I can't see any improvement compared to where I was when I started. Maybe I should consider listening to what others think of me instead of what I think of myself...

Amazing article, Wildwoman. Another very well-written post that's still as easily readable as the other articles you've written. Keep up the good job :)


Same here. My wife hears me practicing downstairs and tells me it sounds great. I kind of dismiss it thinking to myself "she's just overhearing what I'm doing and not really listening...blah blah blah...". I shouldn't do that though. Ultimately, you are playing for an audience. If they like what you are doing, then mission accomplished!!

In my personal experience I found allowing myself to be less than perfect was the key - I was way too hard on myself. Performing in front of an audience became much more enjoyable once I did that.

As far as flubs go - I started out with a major one. I played acoustic guitar in the contemporary choir for our church. We had piano, guitar, flute, violin, and between 5 and 10 singers. We had practiced together for a couple of weeks before making our debut at mass. It was all good. I'm feeling confident. So we start the opening hymn and I strike the opening chord. Immediately, I think "ugh, this sounds horrible. What is wrong!?!?!? I'm playing the right chords!!" It was a nightmare come true...seriously. The piano player looks at me like "what the heck are you doing!!!". So I stop, which I could do since the piano was the forefront instrument. I then realized the problem - I was supposed to be using a capo. So I slapped my capo on quickly and moved on...ahhhh, that sounds better!! Even with such a horrible mess up, I don't think the audince really noticed. And if they did, they soon forgot all about it.

So I learned 2 things that day - 1) You can recover from the most horrible mess up and move on and 2) to denote capo usage (along with the fret placement!) *prominantly* on the top of my sheet music! Never happened to me again.
Go here to check out some of my playing
Go here to check out some of my duo's work

Kasperow

Registered User

Joined: 10/09/12

Posts: 693

You're welcome, Wildwoman.

I haven't yet performed for an audience of strangers (mostly since I'm quite new to playing the guitar and I'm not in a band), but I'll definitely keep this article in mind for when I get there :)

Now I just wish I'd been interested in music back in grade school, so I could be a great Guitarist today...

#22

You're welcome, Wildwoman.

I haven't yet performed for an audience of strangers (mostly since I'm quite new to playing the guitar and I'm not in a band), but I'll definitely keep this article in mind for when I get there :)

Now I just wish I'd been interested in music back in grade school, so I could be a great Guitarist today...

wildwoman1313

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Joined: 11/17/08

Posts: 303

Anyone who has ever played for an audience has his or her own flub story. Most likely several. Thanks for sharing yours, Maggior. Audiences, if they pick up on your mistake at all, are usually supportive. As for perfection, a famous writer once said, "Perfection is like chasing the horizon."

Better late than never, Kasperow. ;)

#23

Anyone who has ever played for an audience has his or her own flub story. Most likely several. Thanks for sharing yours, Maggior. Audiences, if they pick up on your mistake at all, are usually supportive. As for perfection, a famous writer once said, "Perfection is like chasing the horizon."

Better late than never, Kasperow. ;)

maggior

Registered User

Joined: 01/26/13

Posts: 1718

So last week I had my first performance in a rock band in front of an audience. It was also my first improvised solo performed to a larger audience. I was pretty nervous!!

Leading up to it, my band mates and I were talking about stage fright and our expectations of the performance. I told them that my attitude was to accept the fact that there will be mistakes made...the key is how I/we deal with them.

And today I stumbed across this article again a reread it...and found what I said written right here. Obviously this stayed with me at a very fundamental level. So thanks for that!!

There is something I'd like to add based on the experience. Have somebody create a video of one of your performances.

I suspect that you will appear and sound much differently on stage than you think. I didn't expect to be blinded by the lights while I was on stage. I wanted to look at the audience, but I couldn't see them through the lights. As my solo came up, my inner nervousness started to well up. If felt like I was staring at my guitar neck as I played. I thought I probably looked pretty stupid; like a total newb. I also fumbled briefly as I switched neck positions during my solo. So overall not a very positive perception of how I looked or did.

Let's go the to video tape...

I looked calm cool and collected up there, like I belonged up there. I can't even see or tell where I fumbled, even though I know I did. I cannot perceive ANY of my nervousness. Was that really me up there? Sure was, can't dispute that - the video doesn't lie. I looked like I was having fun and was looking around at my bandmates. I even looked confident playing my solo.

So my perception of how I appeared was completely wrong!

Knowing this will help me tremendously with future performances. Just do the work to put in the practice, and get up there and do it! The rest will just fall into place.
Go here to check out some of my playing
Go here to check out some of my duo's work

#24

So last week I had my first performance in a rock band in front of an audience. It was also my first improvised solo performed to a larger audience. I was pretty nervous!!

Leading up to it, my band mates and I were talking about stage fright and our expectations of the performance. I told them that my attitude was to accept the fact that there will be mistakes made...the key is how I/we deal with them.

And today I stumbed across this article again a reread it...and found what I said written right here. Obviously this stayed with me at a very fundamental level. So thanks for that!!

There is something I'd like to add based on the experience. Have somebody create a video of one of your performances.

I suspect that you will appear and sound much differently on stage than you think. I didn't expect to be blinded by the lights while I was on stage. I wanted to look at the audience, but I couldn't see them through the lights. As my solo came up, my inner nervousness started to well up. If felt like I was staring at my guitar neck as I played. I thought I probably looked pretty stupid; like a total newb. I also fumbled briefly as I switched neck positions during my solo. So overall not a very positive perception of how I looked or did.

Let's go the to video tape...

I looked calm cool and collected up there, like I belonged up there. I can't even see or tell where I fumbled, even though I know I did. I cannot perceive ANY of my nervousness. Was that really me up there? Sure was, can't dispute that - the video doesn't lie. I looked like I was having fun and was looking around at my bandmates. I even looked confident playing my solo.

So my perception of how I appeared was completely wrong!

Knowing this will help me tremendously with future performances. Just do the work to put in the practice, and get up there and do it! The rest will just fall into place.
Go here to check out some of my playing
Go here to check out some of my duo's work

wildwoman1313

Full Access

Joined: 11/17/08

Posts: 303

Videotaping your performance is a great idea, Maggior! Thanks so much for sharing. And congrats on surviving your first solo in front of an audience!!!

#25

Videotaping your performance is a great idea, Maggior! Thanks so much for sharing. And congrats on surviving your first solo in front of an audience!!!

Kasperow

Registered User

Joined: 10/09/12

Posts: 693

Just thought I'd give this article another read, since I'll be playing for strangers tomorrow (in 25 hours, as off the time of writing). Still an excellent article. I'm hoping the things you suggest here can help me keep calm and relaxed tomorrow :)
"Commit yourself to what you love, and things will happen."
- Mika Vandborg, Electric Guitars, "Follow Your Heart"
---
Gear:
Chateau PS-10 Cherry Power-Strat
Epiphone G-400 LTD 1966 Faded Worn Cherry
Epiphone Les Paul 100 Ebony (w/ Oil City Pickups Scrapyard Dog PLUS pickups)
Epiphone ES-345 Cherry
Fender 2014 Standard Stratocaster Sunburst
Martin DX1K Acoustic
Fender Mustang II Amplifier
Jet City Amplification JCA22H Tube-head and JCA12S+ cabinet
Pedals...

#26

Just thought I'd give this article another read, since I'll be playing for strangers tomorrow (in 25 hours, as off the time of writing). Still an excellent article. I'm hoping the things you suggest here can help me keep calm and relaxed tomorrow :)
"Commit yourself to what you love, and things will happen."
- Mika Vandborg, Electric Guitars, "Follow Your Heart"
---
Gear:
Chateau PS-10 Cherry Power-Strat
Epiphone G-400 LTD 1966 Faded Worn Cherry
Epiphone Les Paul 100 Ebony (w/ Oil City Pickups Scrapyard Dog PLUS pickups)
Epiphone ES-345 Cherry
Fender 2014 Standard Stratocaster Sunburst
Martin DX1K Acoustic
Fender Mustang II Amplifier
Jet City Amplification JCA22H Tube-head and JCA12S+ cabinet
Pedals...

maggior

Registered User

Joined: 01/26/13

Posts: 1718

Best of luck to you Kasperow!!! This has been a long time coming, so I'm sure you're anxious about it.

Try to relax and enjoy the experience no matter what happens.

You'll do great!!!
Go here to check out some of my playing
Go here to check out some of my duo's work

#27

Best of luck to you Kasperow!!! This has been a long time coming, so I'm sure you're anxious about it.

Try to relax and enjoy the experience no matter what happens.

You'll do great!!!
Go here to check out some of my playing
Go here to check out some of my duo's work

wildwoman1313

Full Access

Joined: 11/17/08

Posts: 303

Best of luck to you tomorrow, Kasperow!! Like Maggior says, you've got this. Just remember to breathe and take it all in. And do let us know how it goes, 'k?

#28

Best of luck to you tomorrow, Kasperow!! Like Maggior says, you've got this. Just remember to breathe and take it all in. And do let us know how it goes, 'k?

Kasperow

Registered User

Joined: 10/09/12

Posts: 693

Originally Posted by: wildwoman1313
Best of luck to you tomorrow, Kasperow!! Like Maggior says, you've got this. Just remember to breathe and take it all in. And do let us know how it goes, 'k?

Thanks, Wildwoman. I sure hope I've got this :) I've practiced my parts I don't know how many times, so I hope I'm gonna nail this, even if it's only two songs (one where I'm backing a piano and a singer, one where I'm on my own as far as I know) and very little blues-jamming.

Originally Posted by: maggior
Best of luck to you Kasperow!!! This has been a long time coming, so I'm sure you're anxious about it.

Try to relax and enjoy the experience no matter what happens.

You'll do great!!!

Yeah, I'm getting pretty darned anxious by now :) Haven't been this nervous since my exam in March, where I halfway through started to think that I was just saying some random b******t that didn't make any sense in any language. Turns out afterwards that it went well enough to get me an A on that exam. Different situation, I know, but I still suffered from performance anxiety, just like I'm doing now... So it's true what they say. I'm the person who's least qualified to judge my performance.

Another great example is from two professional guitarists, whose clinics I've attended twice. In 2013, they played together at a danish festival (think something like Rock In Rio or Rock AM Ring), and they had each had a single beer before their show (not enough to get drunk or really affect their playing). They went on-stage as scheduled, played their set and halfway through the fourth song in their set, they started to think "Wow. This solo sucks. This is our worst performance ever! Let's just do our best to keep the crowd happy". So they finished their set, and went off-stage an hour after they went on. A few days later, they were sitting in one of their apartments, watching a recording that someone had uploaded to YouTube, and they were both completely blown away by how awesome they had been. And that solo that sucked? They later found out that it was the best solo they'd ever played for that song! They just did realize it at the time! Just goes to prove that even professional guitarists can be too hard on themselves in the spur of the moment.

In any case, if it goes well, I'll let you know, and if it doesn't go well, it probably went well but I didn't realize it, and I'll let you know too :)
"Commit yourself to what you love, and things will happen."
- Mika Vandborg, Electric Guitars, "Follow Your Heart"
---
Gear:
Chateau PS-10 Cherry Power-Strat
Epiphone G-400 LTD 1966 Faded Worn Cherry
Epiphone Les Paul 100 Ebony (w/ Oil City Pickups Scrapyard Dog PLUS pickups)
Epiphone ES-345 Cherry
Fender 2014 Standard Stratocaster Sunburst
Martin DX1K Acoustic
Fender Mustang II Amplifier
Jet City Amplification JCA22H Tube-head and JCA12S+ cabinet
Pedals...

#29

Originally Posted by: wildwoman1313
Best of luck to you tomorrow, Kasperow!! Like Maggior says, you've got this. Just remember to breathe and take it all in. And do let us know how it goes, 'k?

Thanks, Wildwoman. I sure hope I've got this :) I've practiced my parts I don't know how many times, so I hope I'm gonna nail this, even if it's only two songs (one where I'm backing a piano and a singer, one where I'm on my own as far as I know) and very little blues-jamming.

Originally Posted by: maggior
Best of luck to you Kasperow!!! This has been a long time coming, so I'm sure you're anxious about it.

Try to relax and enjoy the experience no matter what happens.

You'll do great!!!

Yeah, I'm getting pretty darned anxious by now :) Haven't been this nervous since my exam in March, where I halfway through started to think that I was just saying some random b******t that didn't make any sense in any language. Turns out afterwards that it went well enough to get me an A on that exam. Different situation, I know, but I still suffered from performance anxiety, just like I'm doing now... So it's true what they say. I'm the person who's least qualified to judge my performance.

Another great example is from two professional guitarists, whose clinics I've attended twice. In 2013, they played together at a danish festival (think something like Rock In Rio or Rock AM Ring), and they had each had a single beer before their show (not enough to get drunk or really affect their playing). They went on-stage as scheduled, played their set and halfway through the fourth song in their set, they started to think "Wow. This solo sucks. This is our worst performance ever! Let's just do our best to keep the crowd happy". So they finished their set, and went off-stage an hour after they went on. A few days later, they were sitting in one of their apartments, watching a recording that someone had uploaded to YouTube, and they were both completely blown away by how awesome they had been. And that solo that sucked? They later found out that it was the best solo they'd ever played for that song! They just did realize it at the time! Just goes to prove that even professional guitarists can be too hard on themselves in the spur of the moment.

In any case, if it goes well, I'll let you know, and if it doesn't go well, it probably went well but I didn't realize it, and I'll let you know too :)
"Commit yourself to what you love, and things will happen."
- Mika Vandborg, Electric Guitars, "Follow Your Heart"
---
Gear:
Chateau PS-10 Cherry Power-Strat
Epiphone G-400 LTD 1966 Faded Worn Cherry
Epiphone Les Paul 100 Ebony (w/ Oil City Pickups Scrapyard Dog PLUS pickups)
Epiphone ES-345 Cherry
Fender 2014 Standard Stratocaster Sunburst
Martin DX1K Acoustic
Fender Mustang II Amplifier
Jet City Amplification JCA22H Tube-head and JCA12S+ cabinet
Pedals...

maggior

Registered User

Joined: 01/26/13

Posts: 1718

Originally Posted by: Kasperow
Haven't been this nervous since my exam in March, where I halfway through started to think that I was just saying some random b******t that didn't make any sense in any language. Turns out afterwards that it went well enough to get me an A on that exam. Different situation, I know, but I still suffered from performance anxiety, just like I'm doing now... So it's true what they say. I'm the person who's least qualified to judge my performance.


It's pretty funny that you bring up the test analogy - it is VERY applicable and something I thought about myself. As long as you put in the honest effort to prepare, everything will go fine. Any strategies you may have for dealing with test anxiety will apply here too!

I've also experienced what you talked about with the solos. As I performed one of my improvised solos I cringed internally when I played the end of it and thought "why the hell did I just do that...rather than trying to show off with that crap at the end, I should have just left well enough alone!!". Listening to the recording, I thought "wow, that sounded really cool!".

It didn't throw me off because I had practiced that phrase and it sounded good at the time. I don't know why it didn't sound good to me on stage, but part of me knew it was good, so I went with it. It's happened to me at other times also.

A friend of mine who is a professional musician gave me this advice - "if you mess up, smile! Don't shake your head, don't frown, just look at your audience....and smile!". The original post here gives similar advice. When things went wrong for us on stage, his voice actually played in my head "smile Rich, SMILE!!!". I can actually see where my demeanor on stage changed at that moment, and it makes a difference.

I've said this before, but I think it warrants repeating - relax and enjoy the experience! Don't think "I can't wait to get this over with!". You will never have this particular experience again, so relish it and take it all in.
Go here to check out some of my playing
Go here to check out some of my duo's work

#30

Originally Posted by: Kasperow
Haven't been this nervous since my exam in March, where I halfway through started to think that I was just saying some random b******t that didn't make any sense in any language. Turns out afterwards that it went well enough to get me an A on that exam. Different situation, I know, but I still suffered from performance anxiety, just like I'm doing now... So it's true what they say. I'm the person who's least qualified to judge my performance.


It's pretty funny that you bring up the test analogy - it is VERY applicable and something I thought about myself. As long as you put in the honest effort to prepare, everything will go fine. Any strategies you may have for dealing with test anxiety will apply here too!

I've also experienced what you talked about with the solos. As I performed one of my improvised solos I cringed internally when I played the end of it and thought "why the hell did I just do that...rather than trying to show off with that crap at the end, I should have just left well enough alone!!". Listening to the recording, I thought "wow, that sounded really cool!".

It didn't throw me off because I had practiced that phrase and it sounded good at the time. I don't know why it didn't sound good to me on stage, but part of me knew it was good, so I went with it. It's happened to me at other times also.

A friend of mine who is a professional musician gave me this advice - "if you mess up, smile! Don't shake your head, don't frown, just look at your audience....and smile!". The original post here gives similar advice. When things went wrong for us on stage, his voice actually played in my head "smile Rich, SMILE!!!". I can actually see where my demeanor on stage changed at that moment, and it makes a difference.

I've said this before, but I think it warrants repeating - relax and enjoy the experience! Don't think "I can't wait to get this over with!". You will never have this particular experience again, so relish it and take it all in.
Go here to check out some of my playing
Go here to check out some of my duo's work