Overcoming Stage Fright
Break a leg!
At some point in your playing career, you will hear the words: “You play ukulele, play us a song”. At this point, the Earth will stop spinning and you will be at the center of everyone’s attention. That’s okay, because you’re ready… right? Remember, there’s no pressure, but everyone’s counting on you.
What It’s Really Like
Okay, I’m a joker and enjoy giving you a hard time. In reality, it’s not as scary as you think. There’s actually an incredible ‘top of the world’ feeling that happens after you perform. When you walk off that stage and you hear the crowd cheer, that’s the moment that makes it worthwhile.
Before we perform, there are a 3 steps we can take to prepare for success.
1) Be Prepared
This is the most important step. Preparation is key to conquering nerves. If you know the tune you are playing like the back of your hand, there is less of a chance of messing up or ‘blanking’ out on stage. Practicing is the best way to be prepared. Here is an article on learning how to practice properly to get results.
After learning the song, remember to practice it in its entirety. This means, if you mess up; keep going. Imagine yourself as part of a band. If one member of the band misses a part, does the entire band stop and wait for them to catch up? No, they keep going. It’s hard for non-musicians to hear when you mess up if you keep going. But, if you stop point blank, they will notice. One additional tip is to practice starting at different points in the song. Sometimes beginners will only be able to play sections of songs from the beginning. You want to be able to jump in at any point in the song and continue to the end. This way, in-case a mistake does happen in the performance, you will be able to jump back in with no problem.
2) Cover Your Bases
Besides knowing the material you will be performing, it’s important to make sure everything else is ready to go. Make sure your instrument has been set-up properly and that your strings aren’t a year old! If you are playing through an amp, check that all cables are working and that you have a tuner in your case. If you need sheet music, be sure to bring a music stand. These may seem like no-brainers’, but you would be surprised by how often these things are overlooked. The last thing you want to worry about at the gig is an instrument cable you forgot to pack!
3) Think Positively
Nobody wants to see you fail or hopes you crash and burn. Keep your thoughts positive and picture the show going off without a hitch. It’s okay to tell the audience, “this is my first time, I’m a little nervous”. Everyone’s been there before, whether it be public speaking or a sporting event. We all have been in front of an audience before, and I promise people will cheer you on if you let them know you are a little nervous.
One thing that has always worked for me is to look at the audience before you perform. They are just people, like you and I. There’s nothing to be afraid of, go out there and give it your all!
The ultimate goal of learning music is to perform and bring joy to others and yourself. Being nervous is just part of being human. The trick is, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Performing is a rewarding part of being a musician. Over time your fear of performing will evolve into an excitement to perform.
Article by: Andrew Hardel