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“ROCK CONNECTION” by david leprince is licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0
Your heart starts racing, a lump forms in your throat, your palms begin to sweat and your stomach is in knots. These are all symptoms of anxiety and very common. Musicians, actors and public speakers face these challenges regularly. Often, even the reassuring words of your friends, family or band members aren’t enough to squash these feelings. In this guide, we dive into why you get pre-gig nerves and offer you some helpful tips to deal with this inconvenient aspect of performing.
Before we get to the tips, it’s important to understand why you get performance anxiety. The human brain is a complicated and wonderous thing. It has pushed humanity to amazing achievements but it also has a funny way of messing with us.▼ Article continues below ▼
To put it in simple terms, our brain has two main areas of processing. The left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. The left hemisphere handles logic, planning, numbers, and judgment. The right handles creativity, emotions and sensory inputs like sound.
When you go to perform your left hemisphere kicks into high gear. It floods you with critical thinking, preoccupation with details and criticism. This leads to a rush of chemicals that trigger the symptoms of anxiety. This “paralysis through analysis” can be debilitating and will impact your performance. If your right hemisphere is in control you’ll get that “in the zone” feeling. This leads to a more relaxed and expressive performance.
The trick is to minimize your left brain from dominating your thoughts before going on stage. This will reduce anxiety and increase the chances of a less stressful performance.
Now onto the tips to help you banish those nerves — there are two areas we’ll cover. The first is general advice on how to feel more confident and prepared. The second round of tips will give you some things you can do in those final moments before getting on stage.
Taking charge of your day-to-day life is a big step towards reducing performance anxiety. As a musician, you need to continually grow and evolve. Here are some things you can do to help you prepare to tackle pre-gig nerves.
These tips will help you tackle the nerves you get right before going on stage. These nerves can come on suddenly and without warning. Having these tricks up your sleeve can help you get refocused.
There is a wealth of information out there on ways to handle stress. By using the tips above you can establish a foundation that you can build on.
Keep in mind that nervous energy is not always a bad thing. If you feel nervous, it’s because you are taking your gig seriously. That healthy level of nerves is something to embrace as a part of your musical career. Even established artists who have been touring for years still get pre-show jitters. The difference is not letting those nerves overtake your ability to perform. Take some time to put in place the tips in this guide and you’ll be well on your way to less stressful gigs.