How to overcome stage fright (before you play on the stage)
If we can play well at home, we should be able to play as good on the stage as well. But why can’t we?
Almost every musician gets nervous to appear on the stage, but the question is that how and to what extent one can control the anxiety.
There are 2 elements that we need to deal with in order to overcome the stage fright. 1- psychological aspect 2- physical aspects.
Let’s discuss about the psychological aspect, which is the key element. The most important step is to be clear with yourself on what you really want. So, ask yourself this question: “Do I want to be on the stage, or I don’t want to?” If the answer is:
hmmmm… yeah… I guess so … I don’t know … well… hmmm… OK … I will do it…. Fine…. —-
This is not an answer. The answer should be Yes or No! Only if the answer is YES!! I WANT TO BE ON THE STAGE!! Then you can move to the next level.
Now ask yourself “why do I want to be on the stage?” – is it because you like to improve and become a better musician? If yes, then you definitely know that the growth process involves challenges. Now ask yourself “Am I ready to take the challenge?” YES??? YES??? —YES!
OK, good! Now that you have been honest and clear with yourself and you have set a goal for yourself, you have already gone half way through the process! All you need is just to want to do something. The rest is a lot easier.
Now I am going to share with you some very important yet simple tips that will definitely help you calm down.
They always say “take deep breaths to calm yourself” – this personally has never worked for me because my chest gets so sensitive and tight that attempting to take a deep breath makes me want to throw up!
Also, don’t listen to those who say: “imagine the audience is a bunch of naked people” – No! They are not! They are there with clothes on, and usually nice clothes, and your responsibility is to entertain them and make them have fun and remember you for ever just like an actor, and yes, you have to act on the stage! And THIS is the challenge that you have accepted to take.
So my tips will help you relax, breathe naturally and take over the stage.
First of all, you need to know that music is all about listening and feeling, NOT THINKING. When we get nervous, our brain wants to take over and reduces the functionality of our other senses and as a result we get so self absorbed; we stop hearing and seeing and paying attention properly. So, what we have to is to Not try to suppress our thoughts, because it always backfires! But we need to consciously use our other senses such as HEARING and SIGHT, especially hearing.
Let me give you an example on how you can enhance your sense of sight. You are on the stage or behind the stage. Try to look around and pay attention to objects and people around you. Do things like counting the number of the audience, seeing what type of clothes they are wearing, the color of their dresses, count the ones with eye glasses, or those who wear blue shirts, etc….
And here is an example on how to enhance your sense of hearing/listening: Try to listen to the sounds around you. Listen deeper and deeper. Try to identify what people/audience are whispering. Relax your head and just listen very carefully and pay attention to the quietest sound that you can hear.
Using these senses will very quickly relax your muscles and you automatically start breathing with ease. Remember! Don’t suppress your thoughts and don’t fight to stop them. This method works only temporarily not always. Let your thoughts flow through your mind while you are listening and observing.
Strengthen these senses no matter where you are and what you do. Train yourself in every moment you get so that you remember to do this when you are on the stage.
Now is it more obvious why you can play so well at home and not as well on the stage? It’s because at home, when nobody is watching you, your other senses are functioning let’s say 90%, but this number, on the stage, is reduced by let’s say third or half unless you consciously keep them awake! So, train yourself to be awake with your senses all the time and then this whole thing will happen naturally.
Remember, music is about FEELING and LISTENING and if you are able to do that, you have overcome your stage fright!