A music performance can be stressful, especially for first-timers. You’ve worked hard on learning (or maybe even writing) your favorite song, but performing it for other people may feel intimidating if you’ve only ever made music around your family.
You’re not alone! Everyone gets stage fright—even your teachers still get nerves sometimes. But there are a few tricks you can use to prepare for a performance and play or sing your best.
The weeks before a performance
When you’re getting ready to perform a song in front of an audience, you need to change the way you practice. Many students will diligently stop and start over or rework a trouble spot when they make a mistake in a song. That’s a very effective way to correct a note or chord you tend to miss or play incorrectly, but when you’re on stage, the best thing to do with a mistake is to just keep going.
You should still take the time to go through trouble spots more than other parts of the song, but when you sit down to play or sing the whole song through, commit to doing it the way you would on-stage. Think of it as “performing” the song versus “practicing” it.
Remember, if you slip-up, it’s okay. The show must go on, and most people won’t even notice you made a mistake if you put on a brave face and just keep going.
Once you’ve performed your song a few times on your own, invite your family to sit down and listen. They’ll be the ones cheering you on at your performance. Once you feel comfortable performing for this small group of people, performing for a larger crowd will seem much less daunting.
Day of the event
You’re almost there! By now, you should feel comfortable performing your song all the way through, and even if you slip up here and there, you know to just keep going. You shouldn’t really need to “practice” your song anymore—but you should “perform” it for yourself and your family a few extra times.
It’s important to take care of yourself on the day of your performance. Make sure you’ve gotten plenty of sleep the night before. Eat well-rounded meals to keep your energy up, and most importantly, drink plenty of water (especially if you’re singing)!
If you start to feel anxious at home or while you’re waiting your turn at the event, try this breathing exercise:
Slowly breathe in while you count to three in your head, hold your breath while you count to three again, and then slowly breathe out for another three count. Keep breathing like this until you feel your body relax.
Remember: this is your night. The people who really want to hear you—your friends and your family—are there to support you, no matter what happens. Give them the best you’ve got, and they’ll love whatever you play or sing for them.
While you perform
You’re done with the hard part! Now it’s time to have some fun. All those weeks (or maybe even months) of practice are finally paying off.
Take a few deep breaths before you begin. Think about how you want to start your song, and when you feel ready, dive in! If you feel like you started too slow or too fast, that’s okay. Try not to change your tempo too much once you’ve started—it’s best just to stick with it.
Make sure you aren’t holding your breath while you perform. Keep breathing nice and steady so you don’t get lightheaded.
If you make a mistake, keep going. If you’re playing or singing from memory and you forgot where you were, jump to the next part of the song you remember. If you can’t do that, just go back to the start! It will be okay.
When you finish your song, don’t just run off the stage. Take a minute to look at all the people who came out to hear you and give them a big smile. You might feel shy or embarrassed but it’s worth it to feel all the love and support from your family and friends as they applaud your performance.
Performing can be one of the scariest parts of being a musician, but it’s also the most rewarding. Music is meant to be shared, and you’ll be giving everyone a beautiful gift by sharing your music with them.