Playing guitar in front of others can turn our fingers into noodles. This is called performance anxiety or nerves.
It influences every guitarist, whether they are amateur or professional. If you have experienced this, you are not alone.
There are a few different strategies that we can use to overcome nerves. We’ll get to a few of them in a second, but one of the best things you can do is to be prepared.
Practice the music or song that you are going to be playing and know it inside and out. Know the chords, the melody, the solo, or whatever other elements there are in the music.
Nerves can get to any one of us. While there is no magical solution, combining the strategies below with preparation will make things easier.
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My main suggestion to those who want to overcome their nerves is to begin by recording yourself.
Grab your phone, tablet, or anything with a camera and hit the record button. Think of the camera as another pair of eyes, but with the bonus of recording our playing.
It might seem a little scary, but it’s much easier to record on a phone than to play in front of a large audience.
We can also use the recording to find exactly where we need to improve. Is our left hand playing accurately? Are we playing in the right rhythm? Am I in tune? Ask yourselves these questions when listening to the recording. You can always delete it later!
Being aware of these details will help us polish up our skills and feel confident playing guitar. Either for the camera or the audience.
Play in Front of Someone You Trust
We want to share our music with others in a supportive environment. So, playing guitar in front of someone we trust will be much easier than playing for a large group of people.
Ask a family member or trusted friend to sit down and hear you play a song, lick, or even a few chords on guitar. Don’t worry about mistakes, judgment, or anything like that.
Only focus on what you are going to play and prepare as much as you can.
Keep Doing it
The more you do it, the easier it will get to play guitar in front of others. I’m not saying that the nerves will disappear, but I promise it will get easier to deal with those feelings.
If you are comfortable playing in front of a camera or friend, you can move on to other performance opportunities.
Find a local open mic at a café, host your own event (online or in-person), or any other opportunity where you can share your guitar playing.
There are many ways to combat nerves, but these are some of the simplest and most actionable ways to get started. Don’t let nerves stop you from sharing your guitar playing with others.
Here is a quote by Frederic Chopin, one of the most famous composers of all time:
“I am not fitted to give concerts. The audience intimidates me, I feel choked by its breath, paralysed by its curious glances, struck dumb by all those strange faces.”
If he can get nervous, so can we! Give these strategies a try and let us know how it goes.