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Overcoming Performance Anxiety: Tips for Musicians

As a musician, there's nothing quite like the rush of performing live in front of an audience. But with that thrill comes the all too common experience of performance anxiety: those pesky butterflies in your stomach and fear of making mistakes. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, performance anxiety can leave you feeling defeated - but it doesn't have to be that way! In this post, we'll explore some practical tips for overcoming performance anxiety so you can rock every stage with confidence and ease. So grab your instrument, take a deep breath, and let's dive in!

What is performance anxiety?

Musical performance anxiety is a type of stage fright. It’s the fear of playing music in front of an audience. The anxiety can range from mild butterflies to a full-blown panic attack. Many people who suffer from performance anxiety worry that they will make mistakes, sound bad, or be embarrassed in front of others.

Performance anxiety is common among musicians of all levels, from amateur to professional. It’s also common in other types of performers, such as actors, public speakers, and athletes.

There are a number of things that can trigger performance anxiety, such as:

  • fearing that you’re not good enough

  • worrying about what others will think of you

  • being afraid of making mistakes

  • feeling pressure to do well

  • comparing yourself to other performers

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for overcoming performance anxiety, there are a number of things that can help. These include:

  • practicing regularly and being well prepared before a performance so that you feel more confident

  • focusing on your breath during performances to help stay calm

  • visualization exercises prior to performances where you imagine yourself succeeding

  • positive self-talk to boost your confidence

  • speaking to someone who understands performance anxiety and how to manage it

The difference between good and bad performance anxiety

There are two main types of performance anxiety: good and bad. Good performance anxiety is when you're nervous about a upcoming performance but you still feel confident in your ability to execute well. This type of anxiety can actually be helpful as it can give you the extra push needed to do your best. Bad performance anxiety is when you're so nervous that you start doubting your abilities and feel like you're going to mess up. This type of anxiety can be crippling and often leads to less-than-optimal performances.

If you find yourself feeling more bad than good performance anxiety, there are a few things you can do to try and ease your nerves. First, practice as much as possible leading up to the event. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to make mistakes. Second, focus on your breath control. Taking deep breaths will help calm your nerves and prevent you from tensing up on stage. Finally, try visualization techniques whereby you imagine yourself nailing the performance perfectly. This can help increase your confidence and make it more likely that you'll actually have a great show!

Tips for overcoming performance anxiety

  1. Accept that performance anxiety is normal and common. Many successful musicians have experienced it at some point in their careers.

  2. Identify your specific triggers and learn to control your pre-performance routine accordingly.

  3. Develop a positive mindset by thinking about past performances that went well, or focusing on the present moment and the task at hand rather than dwelling on past mistakes or future outcomes.

  4. Practice regularly and focus on the process rather than the result. Set small goals and celebrate each accomplishment along the way.

  5. Be prepared mentally and physically for your performance by getting enough rest, eating healthy, and exercise regularly leading up to the event.

  6. When it's time for your performance, take slow, deep breaths to help relax your body and clear your mind. Focus on your breathing throughout the performance to stay in the moment.

  7. Remember that mistakes are part of performing and accept them as such. Everyone makes them, even the greats! Learn from them and move on.

The importance of practice

One of the most important things a musician can do to overcome performance anxiety is to practice regularly. This not only gives you the opportunity to perfect your craft, but also helps to build your confidence. When you know you have put in the work and are prepared for your performance, it can help to ease any nerves you may be feeling. Additionally, practicing with others can also be beneficial as it can help you learn how to better manage any stage fright you may experience.

The role of the audience

The average person will never understand the immense pressure that a musician feels before a performance. The thought of playing in front of an audience can be so daunting that it causes some musicians to freeze up or make mistakes. This is known as performance anxiety, and it's something that all musicians deal with at one point or another.

There are a few things that you can do to overcome performance anxiety and give a great show. First, remember that the audience is there to support you. They want you to do well, so take a deep breath and relax. Second, focus on the music rather than the people watching you. If you get lost in the moment and forget about the audience, you'll be more likely to play your best. And finally, don't be afraid to make mistakes. Everyone makes them, and it's not the end of the world if you mess up. Just keep playing and enjoy yourself!


Performance anxiety is a common problem that many musicians face, but it doesn't have to be an insurmountable barrier. By building confidence in practice, learning to stay present and connected with your audience, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle you can reduce performance anxiety and allow yourself to reach new heights of musical expression. With these tips in mind, go out there and show the world what you’ve got!

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