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Old 07-26-2012, 08:08 PM   #1
dannydawiz
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Techniques for Handling Performance Anxiety

Hello the reason why I made this thread is because I need some help in dealing with a bit of anxiety.

Whenever there comes a situation where another guitar player comes up to me and asks me to play something I get incredibly nervous and usually end up playing very sloppy. I feel like no matter what people are judging me and I end up frustrated at myself.

This has happened on numerous occasions sometimes even with people that don't play guitar! I have performed about 20 times so far with the help of my school and I also play outside during lunch frequently. However this problem still continues to persist and I don't know how to make it disappear. I hate the feeling of being super nervous before a performance and I feel like I can never truly enjoy performing around other people unless I can get this problem sorted out.

That being said what are some ways that you guys feel can help deal with performance anxiety? Does anyone have any stories of famous guitar players that were able to cure their fear of playing in front of other people?

EDIT: If it helps, I have quite a bit of social anxiety as well. I don't like being put into situations where other people are staring at me and I am giving any sort of presentation. I also have trouble when I'm recording a track for a song or doing a cover for a video.

Last edited by dannydawiz : 07-26-2012 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:22 PM   #2
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Keep playing. The more you play, the less you're going to experience this problem. You may also have an issue with your confidence - not only with your playing, but in your life. I wonder how long you've been playing and how well you play? If you keep playing in front of people, it's going to get better. I promise.

Just read the rest of your post and see you don't like being put into situations where other people are watching you. It's a confidence issue for you. Not only keep playing, but tell yourself that you're good and they're watching you because they like what you're playing. I'll check out your YT page and make more comments later.
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:22 PM   #3
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Picture the audiance in their underwear! No but seriously, even the guys in Metallica said it took them years of touring for the stage fright to go away. The only advice i have is to just go for it, ignore the people entirely while you're playing.
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:24 PM   #4
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I have the same problem although it doesn't sound as bad as yours. I think the key is just to try and convince yourself that it doesn't matter what other people think... easier said than done though.
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:26 PM   #5
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Personally I used to feel that way too until a friend told me a good piece of advice. Usually the people asking you to play don't know much about music, and if they do, probably don't know what you're playing. If you mess up and it sounds good, who cares?

What I did was worked on a few songs that transitioned easily into eachother and then when I was asked to play, i had my own little playlist. Once you play a song or two you'll loosen up and things will flow easier.

Never start off with your best (like the kids at guitar center) because nothing else would sound as good. You want to build up on it, because chances are, the last song you play them is the one they'll remember the best.
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:27 PM   #6
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Hey I'm 17 and I was in a situation similar to yours the best cure for this is to 1. To feel confident in your abilities on the guitar 2. To perform every chance you get. Easier said then done I know but when i had anxiety problems I cured them by simply going out and busking with friends Hope this helps
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:28 PM   #7
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:29 PM   #8
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Definitely not my genre of music, but I checked out a couple of your videos. Personally, I don't think you have much to worry about. If you play like that in public, you're going to have people gathering around and watching you. You're a good guitar player. You just need to hear it from a few of us.

When people are watching you, as Timothy mentioned, picture them in their underwear. Also, watch the expressions on their faces. Draw energy from that. As you see the excitement in their expressions from your playing, allow that to feed you. You have talent - don't be afraid of it and don't hide behind it. Most of all, don't allow your anxiety to rule you. Take what we've given you and control it. You can control it.

Good luck, Danny!
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:30 PM   #9
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I also checked out your YT the songs and bands your covered are not my cup of tea but you clearly have your chops up to scratch
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:39 PM   #10
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Sounds like you care too much about what others think... Even if you stuff up, does it really matter? I can't play that well (IMO) but still play because I enjoy it, and I know my limitations. Better to play and make some mistakes than not play at all.
I know people that can't play to save their life, but that doesn't mean they are any less of a person. It doesn't change my perception of them as people, they dont care they can't play, I dont care either...

Sounds like you generally need to loosen up and overcome your fears. Wouldn't it be good to not care so much?
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Old 07-26-2012, 09:19 PM   #11
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I used to have this but then I realized... Anxiety is for pussies.
I'm not even joking.
Just cast the anxiety aside, make it your bitch. Get super pumped for shit by listening to some metal.
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Old 07-26-2012, 09:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KG6_Steven
Definitely not my genre of music, but I checked out a couple of your videos. Personally, I don't think you have much to worry about. If you play like that in public, you're going to have people gathering around and watching you. You're a good guitar player. You just need to hear it from a few of us.

When people are watching you, as Timothy mentioned, picture them in their underwear. Also, watch the expressions on their faces. Draw energy from that. As you see the excitement in their expressions from your playing, allow that to feed you. You have talent - don't be afraid of it and don't hide behind it. Most of all, don't allow your anxiety to rule you. Take what we've given you and control it. You can control it.

Good luck, Danny!


Thanks for the encouraging words Steven. Instead of thinking that people staring at me is a negative thing I will from now try and look at it from a more positive perspective. Your idea of people only staring at you because they like what they're hearing really stood out to me.
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Old 07-26-2012, 09:37 PM   #13
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Imagine you have a huge erection. Really work yourself up and get nervous that everyone knows that you have a massive, throbbing erection. Then check your trousers and realize you have nothing to fear. That's how I handle stage fright.

Really, it's a matter of experience and just getting used to it. A few songs in, you'll completely forget that you're onstage.
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Old 07-26-2012, 09:44 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robfreitag
Sounds like you care too much about what others think... Even if you stuff up, does it really matter? I can't play that well (IMO) but still play because I enjoy it, and I know my limitations. Better to play and make some mistakes than not play at all.
I know people that can't play to save their life, but that doesn't mean they are any less of a person. It doesn't change my perception of them as people, they dont care they can't play, I dont care either...

Sounds like you generally need to loosen up and overcome your fears. Wouldn't it be good to not care so much?


Hello Rob. What your saying definitely makes sense to me and I've tried applying your concept of not caring about what others say about me quite a few times. However I find that this is way easier said than done at least for me.

Sometimes in the beginning of a performance I can tell myself at least for a moment that I don't care what other people say about me.

However it's never that effective. Even if I tell myself that I don't care about judgement I cannot truly convince myself that what I'm saying is true.

I care about what others say about me because it helps me highlight my flaws and mistakes. If you can't be critical of yourself and you are a sloppy guitar player I don't think it's possible to become a cleaner player without either being aware of it yourself or by having somebody else tell you.

While writing this post though I realized that I don't need other people to tell me about my mistakes because I'm already aware of them myself. That being said Ill do my best to ignore the negative judgement of other people because those are simply thoughts that an honest player should already be aware of.

So thanks for your post as it helped me realize a very important concept that I never really thought about before. Sorry that I wasn't able to fully apply your advice.
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Old 07-27-2012, 10:55 AM   #15
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Although the common advice is to picture everyone in the audience in their underwear or as babies, what I like to do is focus on my fingers and the fretboard. When I look up, I usually look out into the distance instead of looking at anyone's face, I find it much more calming to watch my fingers, and play as if I'm the only one listening, while realizing that it's so incredibly rare for an audience to even know that you've made a mistake...
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:37 PM   #16
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I read in an interview that even Steve Harris of Iron Maiden to this day, after years and years of touring in front of millions, still gets nervous right before they run out on stage. And he says it goes away once hes actually out there and settled in.

I guess some people just find it worse than others, but im sure like anything, practice and keep performing in front of as many people as you can and try and be super confident .
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:20 AM   #17
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a lot of energy drinks, that works for me.
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:39 PM   #18
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If all else fails beta blocker can help to break a vicious circle scenario where bad experiences turn into more stage fright resulting in even worse experiences. They are pretty common in orchestras. 40mg Propranolol for example an hour before the performance, after consultation of your doctor.
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Old 11-05-2012, 02:08 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannydawiz
Hello Rob. What your saying definitely makes sense to me and I've tried applying your concept of not caring about what others say about me quite a few times. However I find that this is way easier said than done at least for me.

Sometimes in the beginning of a performance I can tell myself at least for a moment that I don't care what other people say about me.



We humans are social creatures. Even amongst hopeless misanthropes and hermits (like yours truly) very few of them can be truly uncaring of what other people think, and mostly those are quite nasty people anyway who you do not want to be around with for long.

BTW, have you tried beer? I have always sworn with my blood that I would never sing karaoke even amongst friends and relatives, but guess what happened last new years eve...
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Old 11-05-2012, 02:20 PM   #20
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Slash used his hair, hat and sunglasses to pretend the crowd weren't there.

One thing that helps some people is performing at very low levels of pressure and working up.

So, play a song through to a performance standard in 1 take.
Then try and do the same thing imagining people are watching.
Then do it for someone you like who'll be supportive. (friends, close family)
Then a small group.

Etc!

That said, many people and professionals struggle with anxiety, but they still do it. Lady Gaga still gets stage fright and she plays to millions and wears a lot less than you do when performing.
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