December 12, 2023

How to fight against yourself when playing live?

Are you gigging constantly? or have you had just a couple of live presentations in front of friends or a small audience? This post is for you if you’re in either camp, whether you have played for thousands of people or for only 5.

If you have played live you have experienced the anxiety before the show and also while playing the show… everyone feels it, even professional players who have been doing shows for years.

But what about the pressure that we feel as beginners, do the professional and experienced players feel them? Probably not in the same way, the nerves are there though. And what about those little voices in our mind telling us that we are going to make a mistake and building the self doubt we do not want or need while playing?

Beginners are the most vulnerable to be influenced in a situation like this; a professional player has won more confidence about their playing, skills and technique.

So what can a beginner do to face this situation? What can you do if/when make a mistake? Are you even good enough to be playing in a band?

Try having a chat with the voices inside you…

Have fun while playing live, don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself.
If you’re already playing live, I’m sure you’re at least practicing one or two days per week with your band. Rehearsals are where you need to push yourself, not when playing live. Yes, you need to concentrate when playing live but don’t stress, have fun instead. That is why you practice a few days per week; what you play live is what you already know so just play it! Remember, we play music because we love it and because we enjoy doing it!

Don’t worry about making mistakes.
Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes, even the best guitarists make them. See it this way, you play a one or two hour show, you make a few mistakes, how much will those mistakes be compared to the time of the show? It is nothing, a very small percentage; do not worry about the mistakes, however, if you do make a mistake keep going, relax and enjoy and practice it next week, you won’t make it again.

You are living your dream.
When you are playing live, you and your band mates are the ones on stage living the dream, playing music. An audience is just that, people in the crowd watching you, listening to you and some of them envying YOU for being a good musician living your dream. Always, when playing live remind yourself how you were a few years back, perhaps you were one in the crowd seeing another band and dreaming of becoming a Rockstar. Well, now you’re on a stage playing a show, how lucky you are? Isn’t that more important? What you have achieved so far!

The gift of music.
You play music because you love doing it, but in the end, who’s the music going to? The listener. As a musician or guitarist, your guitar is only a tool you use to transmit what you have to say, what you think, what you feel… and the listener is receiving that in every way you play it. You shouldn’t be feeling bad or doubting what you do or what you are playing for others. It is like doing something nice for someone else; do you feel bad if you help an old lady to cross the street? or if you donate money to charity? Of course you don’t. Playing music should be no different.

The best antidote for stage fright is to change the mindset from “impressing” to “giving”, someone said…

Learn more about Luis Tovar on his Google profile.

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