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Performance 101 – Stage Fright

Updated: Jul 30, 2021

Performing 101 – Open Mics, Concerts & Recitals – Dealing with Stage Fright

When you imagine a musical performance, a variety of places such as coffee houses, recital halls, college campuses, bars and restaurants, outdoor band shells, your own living room. and more.Even though the venue may be different, the way you present yourself on stage is important. While some venues may be less formal than others, as the performer it's important to display your professionalism and excellence when on the stage. This can definitely be nerve-wracking, and performance anxiety or "Stage Fight" can make this feel impossible. After years of music practice, I still struggle with stage-fright myself; however, here are some basics that will help you shine like the star you are!

1. Remember why you are on stage.

Although the "Diva" or "Divo"stereotype might make us think otherwise. Performing music is not about us as performers; it is not about our egos. It is about the music—it's message, not our perfection as performers, is what is important.

All music whether it's a Chopin Étude or a Top-40 pop song has a message behind it. Sometimes it's emotional and serious and sometimes it's just that "Girls Want to Have Fun!" Other times, it is about creating a mood like a solo jazz pianist rolling out a lush arrangement of "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes." But that is what the audience is looking for when they are watching and listening to you, they want to receive the message of the music. If you find yourself shaking, focus on the message or mood you are trying to create and as Eminem said, "Lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it..." You are sharing something of value with your audience, remember that!

2. Live healthfully.

While the "Rock 'n' Roll" lifestyle trope has existed for centuries. (Think of how Mozart was depicted in Amadeus.) A healthful life will help you perform our best. Mindfulness practices such as deep breathing, yoga, and mindful meditation can all help to curb stage fright, and over time, they help prevent it from taking over your body and mind in the first place. I have a post dedicated to Mindfulness for Musicians that you can find on this blog here.