Your pulse races. Your hands tremble. Your knees quake. You’ve felt this way before but knowing how to get over stage fright still eludes you. Stage fright is an extreme fear or nervousness that affects millions of people, from musicians to actors, singers, and public speakers, when appearing in front of an audience. But stage fright doesn’t have to stop you from playing music in front of an audience. Here are 10 tips for how to get over stage fright. Master these, and you just may be able to conquer your fear of performing live.
1. Take care of yourself
The night before your event, sleep well and wake up to a healthy breakfast on performance day. Stay hydrated and limit caffeine and sugar. Too much caffeine can cause you to feel anxious, so skip the coffee and opt for herbal tea instead. If you’re feeling overly anxious, try eating a banana – it’s a natural beta-blocker and can help curb the short-term effects of adrenaline due to anxiety.
2. Exercise to release endorphins
Take a walk, stretch, jump up and down, and loosen your muscles to relieve anxiety. When you’re anxious your body gets tense. Exercise is one of the best ways to manage anxiety, but don’t exercise too hard as you’ll need your energy to perform. A little light exercise can calm your nerves and help keep you focused.
3. Relax before your performance
Another powerful way to get over stage fright is to learn how to relax.
Take a few moments to clear your head before your performance. Breathe deeply and enjoy some quiet time before you meet your audience. The relaxation will help your focus and relieve the stress of performing live.
4. Practice, practice, practice
No list on how to get over stage fright would be complete without this important tip. In the months, weeks, and days before performing live, practice is critical. The more you practice, the more your muscle memory will take over and you won’t get lost trying to remember your next set of notes. With proper practice and preparation on the days leading up to your performance, you’ll be confident knowing you’re ready to play in front of the crowd.
5. Learn how to come out of mistakes
Even the most accomplished pianists make mistakes when performing live. It’s how you handle those mistakes that can help determine your success. Learn and practice your music in sections. That way, if you forget your notes during the performance, you can easily jump to another section and just keep on playing. Most people won’t even notice if you make a mistake. Realize that nothing bad is going to happen if you do make a mistake, and you’ll be well on your way to learning how to get over stage fright.
6. Play for friends and family
In advance of your event, enlist your friends and family to be your audience as you practice your performance. Want to challenge yourself? Ask your friends to clear their throats, rustle papers, or make a few odd noises. Try to keep focused during the distractions. The more you perform in front of people you’re comfortable with, the more comfortable you’ll feel in front of an audience of strangers.
7. Record yourself playing
Having trouble imagining yourself on stage performing live in front of an audience? Set up your smartphone or video camera and record yourself practicing your performance. You’ll be able to visualize what you look like on stage, and how others see you. By identifying your strengths you’ll boost your confidence for your upcoming event. When you’re looking for how to get over stage fright, confidence is key.
8. Prepare your space in advance
Are you performing on stage at a location you’ve never been to? If possible, check out the event space in advance. Know how long it will take to get there, and when you should leave to give yourself ample time to relax before the performance. Are you doing your recital virtually over Zoom? Make sure to set up your computer early so you’re not hassling with it immediately before you’re scheduled to play. Is everything plugged in? Battery charged? Take care of all the details in advance so you won’t be anxious about last-minute logistics.
9. Focus on the positive
Visualize your success. See yourself mastering your performance in front of an audience. Don’t focus on your worry, but tell yourself that all your preparation, practice, skills, and talent will lead to a great performance. And this tip goes for parents too. Parents of young musical performers are often more nervous than their kids. Encourage your child and don’t let them know you’re nervous. Show your child your support and confidence, and you’ll alleviate their self-doubt.
10. Enjoy your moment
The final tip for how to get over stage fright is to focus on your music, not your inner critic. Don’t dwell on how you look, how you feel, or what the audience may be thinking. Concentrate on the music and enjoy your performance. Glance out at the audience and smile at them. After all, they are there to see you, to support you, and to cheer you on. So go ahead and enjoy your moment – you’ve earned it.
These tips on how to get over stage fright will help you conquer your fear of playing in front of a live audience. But if you’re nervous, remember this – you’re in very good company. Many famous performers have confessed to experiencing stage fright, including notables such as Vladimir Horowitz, Barbra Streisand, Luciano Pavarotti, Rihanna, and Frédéric Chopin. So, the next time you feel anxious, nervous or start to tremble before performing live, take a deep breath and remember that all your practice and preparation will get you through this. You may not have completely mastered how to get over stage fright, but by managing your nerves you’ll have the confidence to play your very best.
Your grab and go list for how to get over stage fright.
Next time you’re performing live, print out this quick list and keep it handy. Your nerves will thank you for it.
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