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Summary, Episode 9:
In this listener Q & A episode, my guitar student Frank asks about how to stay calm and overcome nervousness and panic while performing solo guitar on stage.
I share my 15 best tips for staying calm, focused and relaxed.
1 – 7: “Practical” points. These points address preparation as opposed to dealing with the actual feeling of panic in the moment.
8 – 15: “Mental Game” points. These address how to deal with the moments onstage when the critical, negative voice enters, your heart starts beating and maybe even hands shake.
Plus 2 in the moment additional tips actually make it 17 tips. 🙂
- 0:57 The question about nerves and performance – in Frank’s own words.
- 3:29: Being happy and at peace with your tone.
- 5:26: Having your rhythm and groove feel good – before you start playing.
- 7:04: Learning the Sound of your pickup.
- 8:14: Be sure you are in “stage 4 learning”…your body knows the piece of music.
- 11:30: Importance of slow practice. I still practice my concert tunes slowly…
- 11:57: Learning the difference between practice environment & stage environment.
- 13:37: When you know what people hear, you can forgive yourself…what do they hear? Flow, groove & melody.
- 18:27: Nervousness is a displaced reptile brain reaction, as if you are going to die.
- 19:30: Using meditation to overcome the inner critic & beating yourself up.
- 21:34: Know and feel that the audience is there to suport you.
- 23:18: “Meta” things like groove and tone are more important than small mistakes.
- 24:16: Know your music theory…playing just fingerings will make you nervous.
- 25:43: Breathe on stage! Does wonders for the physiology.
- 26:16: Play light, if your touch is getting heavy.
- 20:20: Get backstage and warm up before you go on.
- 28:40: Keep smiling do not visibly dissaprove of yourself & a personal story…
- 31:02: Your opening song on stage should be “bulletproof”, something you can play with zero thinking.
Ryan Durham says
These podcasts are fantastic, man! I hope that you will be able to keep them because I really look forward to them.
All the best,
Hey man thank you! It’s been a big plunge and I wasn’t sure if anyone’s been listening. Because of the ADD nature of youtube, instagram – I wanted to do something longer form, where listeners (and I) counld sink teeth into a topic and also suffer less distraction.
Feel free, but the way – to send questions over the https://www.adamrafferty.com/ask/ online voicemail, or email a question / topic request in 🙂
Thank you, contact me anytime!
The other day I commented on your 2012 post “7 tips on dealing with stage fright ….” and you directed me here to your podcast episode 9.
Just echoing Ryan’s comments above, I found it superb, really, really helpful. Purely subjectively, it was really beneficial to learn about the four levels. I’ve been learning fingerstyle from the age of 37 (started from cold – never played before) and been playing for 1 1/2 years. From your podcast I’ve worked out I’m level 2 conscious incompetence – I know the sound I want to make but just can’t get to it blemish-free. I’m sure I’ve played Windy and Warm about two thousand times – it gets better very slowly!
Anyhow I hope to be using your site more and more and just familiarising myself with all the tools you’ve provided to help people get better.
Thanks for the listen & the comment! I bet you are further than phase 2 on Windy & Warm if you’ve played it a lot.
I know how tricky the skills are. I am still not a great Chet style player, but working on it.
Feel free to sk me anything for the podcast or otherwise!
Thanks Adam, quick question about a gig I saw advertised. You’re scheduled for Munich on Sunday 09th December.
I don’t see it on your tour page though, so just double-checking it’s a done deal. I’ll be in Munich on a city-break so your gig would be great.
P.S. I’m planning to record a question relating to realignment and finger / hand pain that can result from it, particularly if you take guitar up late.
Peter A says
Just received your e-mail about your “new” podcast, and that’s great, even for a guy like me who is a non-professional guitar player, playing mostly in my living-room, and once in awhile in front of a (small) crowd. And every time I play in front of people, I’m always nervous.
After all, we (me) guitar players want to play perfectly, especially in front of a group. a good friend of mine (professional musician) gave me this tip: When you miss a note here and there, “you” may know that you made a mistake, but most of the audience will never see or hear it. They are listening to the “groove”, like you said. And, once you know your tune, just go there and have fun!
That goes well with your tips!
Plus I especially do EVERY single day what you suggest in tip 9 (19:30), about using meditation. Well, I have found a fantastic (and free) tool called the “HU” song. You can find it on the Apple Store here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.devatelier.hu&hl=en
Even though it’s called the God sound, there’s no strings attached. It is simply a universal sound found every where in nature.
Anyway, when I have to go on stage, I always do a short HU song in my mind before my performance, and it helps me to relax.
Peter, sorry for my delayed response, thank you for your comment and I will check out “HU”!!! AR
Dennis DeVolder says
Lord, I could have used this a month ago. Good stuff!
Kenny Grisham says
This podcast about playing calm was great. Years ago I used to be able to play in front of anyone but now that I’m back at fingerstyle my confidence is just now coming back. One of the comments I get all the time when I beat myself up about how poorly I played is that they had no idea I made a mistake until I got that expression on my face. I’ve learned to smile or laugh at the mistakes and everyone just thinks I’m having a good time. Thanks again.