The club is packed, the crowd is stoked, your sound check went beautifully, and you’ve already sold thirty CDs before playing a single note. Everything is going perfectly — so why do you feel like you want to throw up?
Whether you call it stage fright, stage fear, pre-show jitters, or performance anxiety, getting nervous before a show is entirely normal amongst musicians, athletes, and all types of performers. Symptoms can range from the annoying to the incapacitating, and even a small amount of music performance anxiety can transform a gig from a wonderful experience to a painful ordeal. Luckily, there are quite a few resources and strategies to help you amp up the joy of performing and overcome stage fright.
Understand your nerves and think long term
“When musicians get nervous before performing, there are three different things happening,” says Dr. Noa Kageyama, a sport and performance psychologist at the Juilliard School. “There’s the physical response, which can be things like dry mouth, butterflies in the stomach, or a sped up heart rate, and that’s usually disturbing in itself.