Performance Anxiety…

…sucks.  In fact, let’s not even give it the dignity of calling it anxiety.  Let’s call it what it is:  stage fright.  We go to play in front of a crowd and we get terrified.  Hands shake – the confidence we had in the practice room disappears, and our hands go on autopilot while our brain observer and laughs at us making mistakes we’ve never made before.

Performance anxiety sucks.

Where I’m at school we have a performance class every Monday afternoon.  This gives all of the guitarists (about 15 of us) an opportunity to perform in front of people every week.  It’s really an outstanding resource, but it certainly doesn’t make performing any easier.  In fact, a room full of guitarists is one of the most intimidating situations we can play in!

Here’s my trick:  acknowledge the nervousness.  Accept it.  Move on.  And as mistakes happen acknowledge them and let them pass by.  It doesn’t matter anymore.

Then be extremely gracious and say, “thanks!” enthusiastically to everyone who says the performance was awesome (even though you disagree with them).  This might be the hardest part.

Posted on in Guitar Performance Tips


  • Brendan Hunt
    Brendan Hunt

    Good post man, I need to work on my anxiety greatly.
    It is kinda funny how we have to play for ALL of the other guitarists. They’re the people I regard highly. I also think the formality of each occasion is what gets me, but I guess it’s good practice.

  • Thomas Kern

    Great Post, As a musician I have also had severe performance anxiety in the form of shaking. I use the postural intentions of Internal Energy Plus. This entrainment has enabled me to perform and not have the shaking overtake my performance.

    In Truth
    Thomas Kern

  • Emon

    The last part you mentioned is spot on. On most occasions your audience is enjoying the performance as a whole and unless, as my teacher used to say, your facial expressions say otherwise they almost never know you’ve not been at your best.

    As Warren Beatty used to say – I’m sure he didn’t come up with it – people remember you by how you’ve made them feel.

  • Mark Antony

    The ideal performance will be played by someone to whom the music means everything, but the act of playing itself, as though it means nothing at all.

    Neil Smith gave me some great tips on performance nerves, when I interviewed him.