Music is one of my passions and I have been writing about music online for over five years.
Tips to Overcome Stage Fright
We’ve all had those moments when we were nervous on stage. Whether you have been in a musical or play, performed an instrument solo, or played an instrument in a group, stage fright can affect anyone.
As a performer myself (for most of my life), I know that being prepared is a big part of overcoming stage fright. Being aware of what defines stage fright can also be a big help and it is a great starting point to overcoming stage fright.
What Is Stage Fright and What Causes It?
Stage fright is the feeling of nervousness before or during a performance in front of an audience. People get stage fright because they have the perception that they are not performing up to par. They also think that their performance will cause them to be judged negatively and that their reputation will be affected.
Luckily, stage fright can be managed and completely overcome. I hope the following tips will help you push away your fears and prepare you for your big performance.
What to Do Before the Performance
1. Don't wait: Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to practice and prepare. Don’t wait until the last minute.
2. Be prepared: Being prepared is key to overcoming your stage fright. Practice your music pieces or lines as much as you can until you have them memorized. Even if you are not required to memorize your piece, I would recommend it (it isn’t as difficult as you may think). Memorization will ensure that you know your piece inside and out, thus reducing your nerves.
3. Record it: Once you have learned your piece, I highly recommend recording it. Some options to record your piece include apps on your iPod touch/iPhone and voice recording apps on your android device (Smart Voice Recorder is free). If you plan on many future performances, you could invest in a digital voice recording device (it will be an extra purchase, but maybe worth it if it has more storage space). If you do not have any of these options, you could borrow a device from a friend or family member.
4. Critique it: After you record your performance, play it back and make mental notes or jot down a few reminders on areas for improvement.
- For musicians: Follow along with your sheet music. Some things to look out for are good dynamics (the louds and softs), a correct and overall steady tempo (the speed of the music), correct pitch, and correct notes.
- For actors: Some things to look out for are making sure you aren’t speaking too fast or slow. Note any areas that you stumble over your words. Listen to your tone of voice (are you in character? Do you sound confident in your performance or do you sound timid?)
5. Fix problem areas: After you have taken note of your problem areas, go back and fix only the specific spots you had trouble with. Repeat those sections by themselves several times accurately (At least 3–5 times).
6. Repeat: Repeat steps 4 and 5 as many times as you feel necessary to feel confident in the time before your actual performance.
More Tips After You Have Learned Your Piece
7. Do a mock performance: After you feel confident from recording and evaluating your recorded performance, ask a family member or friend to listen. (Again, make sure you give your audience enough notice. I do not recommend waiting until 10:00 pm the night before the performance).
- Before you begin, ask your audience to listen for things like dynamics, stuttering, etc.
- After you are done performing, ask your audience for their honest opinion on your performance. Ask what they liked and what they would have improved. Do not be offended if they find improvements (it’s always helpful to hear another perspective even if you may not agree).
8. Review your piece: Go back and look over your sheet music or lines with your audience’s comments in mind. Make any modifications.
9. Practice: After you practice, practice again. Then practice some more.
10. Don't overthink: Try not to think about the performance too much. If you find yourself dwelling on it or overthinking it, tell yourself, “I have practiced over and over and my performance will be great. I will be fine.” Then do something else and think about something else.
11. Visualize positivity: This has definitely helped me over the years. Whenever I start getting nervous about making a mistake, I just visualize myself calmly walking up to the stage and then giving an amazing performance. I visualize myself smiling and looking confident.
12. There is more to life: Remember that this performance is not the most important thing in your life. This one performance will not determine your overall success or failure. Remember that it is just a teeny, tiny snippet in the long course of your life.
13. You are not alone: Remember that you are not alone. Many other people feel the same way as you do. Some are just better at hiding the nerves than others. Just know that people are not likely to label you forever based on one performance. There are so many other important aspects that define who you are. Remember that you are not performing to please people by being perfect. Know that the audience will not expect the impossible. You don’t have to be Mozart. It may sound cliché, but you really just have to do your best. And if you are prepared, you will have nothing to worry about anyway!
Even Celebrities Get Stage Fright
- Adele: She has escaped through fire exits, and even vomited because of stage fright.
- Barbara Streisand: Barbara didn't perform live for almost 30 years because she forgot the lyrics to a song.
- Brian Wilson: The lead singer of the Beach Boys is affected by stage fright daily.
You Can Overcome Stage Fright
No matter how long you have had stage fright and no matter when your stage fright occurs, know that it is possible to overcome it. Whether it is through practicing, breathing techniques, or visualizing yourself doing well, try different techniques and find out what works best for you.
If the stage fright does not go away instantly after your first try, do not dismay. Just as it took you several tries to memorize your lines or to learn how to play the piano, it may take more than one try to completely push aside those jitters. However long it takes, just remember that you are not alone, keep thinking positively, and never give up!
"Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are—
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit—
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit."
tompublicspeaking on August 13, 2014:
Great tips here Faith and I will be sharing this too! have you read http://curefearofpublicspeaking.com there are lots of good tips there which maybe you could include?
foreverfaith170 (author) on July 07, 2013:
Thank you very much. Yes, it is fine to share it with your students. I hope it will be helpful.
jamila sahar on July 07, 2013:
Great hub, would love to share this well written hub with some of my students, if that is ok.