How To Deal With Performance Anxiety (My Experience)

I’m going to share with you my experience as a performer with anxiety or I would say, being extra nervous before performing. I have suffered all my life with this problem, and there have many things I have done to deal with it. It is not an easy situation, but certainly, there is one thing that would help you for sure to deal with it, and is to perform a lot!

The more you do it, the easy it gets. But, some of us don’t get to do that a lot or we are beginning to play. Also, some people never get rid of this.

First of all, I love performance and I have been doing it for more than 15 years. Right now I don’t do it as much because of personal circumstances. But, every time I get to perform now, I always remember what I had learned. I would say, with me, the more time it passes, the less I care what people think about my performance. Somehow that helps me a lot.

That’s why I’m going to give you some tips I learned from my experiences as well as from other big performers I had the opportunity to meet through all these years. I hope this information helps you even in a time like we are living today (pandemic).

1. Don’t play the music you are going to perform right before the concert.

Why do I give you this tip? Because when you are nervous, you are overthinking and then you try to play the music over and over right before you play at the concert. The problem with that is that you can learn a mistake or let’s say bad habits. From a personal experience, it sucks to be scared of a new section because you began to make a lot of mistakes before the concert. After practicing the piece for many hours.

I heard one time that the classical guitarist David Russell would play his music with the guitar backward. That is a really good idea. That way you don’t mess up with what you had practiced. There is nothing that is going to change before the performance. There is a window before the performance that you can use to practice. Let’s say, 4 or 5 hours before the performance. But even that, I would not try to fix anything on the same day. What you should do is play scales and arpeggios to warm up and that’s it. You can even play other music that you are not going to perform. But also, rest is very important before a performance. So don’t overdo it. You don’t want to be tired when performing.

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Photo by Kio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/selective-focus-photo-of-bunch-of-bananas-on-black-surface-1093038/

2. Eat a banana

Oh man, I have so many memories of this. One time I was in a competition and one of my friends was selected to play first because they did a raffle. Man, he had like 10 minutes to get ready, and always remember him trying to warm up and eating a banana at the same time. He was nervous and a little desperate because of the short time. But the image of him trying to eat the bananas and warming up was very funny. I used to eat the banana for a time and then stopped. It can work, but sometimes I feel that it works as a placebo effect. I know for sure the banana has something that it benefits. You can give it a try. Don’t try to eat too many!!

3. Listen to music

Some people would listen to music to stop thinking about performance. It works better if you practiced a lot. But in reality, there is nothing you can do at that moment and what is going to happen is going to happen. That’s why some music would benefit a lot to relax! I would even listen to music during the day. Some calming music. I love Adagios from Mahler and Rachmaninoff. Even Jazz music would work for me. I have a friend that would listen a lot to the audio of Goku becoming super Saiyan for the first time.

4. Practicing and having music ready

This one is very obvious. But even that you get nervous. I get super nervous even if I played my music a thousand times. I even get nervous playing music that I know for more than 7 years. But it is less with time. Once you practice your music, I think that is going to come out the way is going to come out. You do your best. Also, think that mistakes are fine. I know, you want to do it as perfectly as possible, but everyone makes mistakes. We are humans, not machines. It is about enjoyment.  People forget your mistakes if they enjoy your performance. Minimal mistakes are fine. If you practiced a lot, then it would be fine. Stop worrying. People are going to enjoy it. And you are going to do your best. Don’t let your mind play tricks. If you watch a recording of your performance, you are going to notice that is not that bad after all. Believe me, I always think that I sucked, but in reality, I did great. People forget with time. And you are going to live the same situation so many times that in the end, is not that bad after all.

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Photo by Andres Ayrton: https://www.pexels.com/photo/young-black-lady-resting-on-sofa-and-watching-tv-at-home-6578815/

5. Relax through the day

Go for a walk. Watch a movie or a series. Watch videos on YouTube. Go for coffee. Play video games. Listen to music. DO SOMETHING THAT IS NOT RELATED TO GUITAR!!! Is good to relax. Playing guitar is not to be frustrated or to suffer.
6. Don’t sleep and be tired?
I heard from someone that you could not sleep all night and then be tired at the time of performance. That way you don’t care what happens during the performance. And then you are going to just be like “whatever, I just want to get rid of this”. I have done this, but I hate to be tired. Also, I never eat when I’m going to perform. Some people work and some don’t.

6. Pills?

The last one is the one I less recommend. I’m putting this here because if you perform, you are going to hear it somewhere. I don’t know the name of the pill, but it is not worth it. Being a little nervous is important. Being nervous means that you are going to have a new experience. That you are living something new.

I hope these tips help you out. Check out my blog for more information about guitars, equipment, and more! What are your methods for dealing with anxiety? I would love to hear your tips!

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