Stage fright can be a real paralyzing problem for performers of all types, and it sometimes, for some people, seems to literally spin out of control, rendering true performance almost impossible. I do know friends and other cases where this was truly an out of control problem, but for those of you starting out in this world of performing music there certainly is hope.
In some of my earliest days of becoming a professional musician and performing guitarist, I was often experiencing some pretty bad bouts of nervousness onstage. I wouldn’t absolutely call it “stage fright”, since I was able to get onstage, and certainly was not trying to avoid the act of performing. Still, once I was performing, and since I was so outclassed by the performers I was working with in terms of their age and experience, I would sometimes get overpowered by the nerves, and it would really cut into my ability to even play correctly and to play with the freedom and abandon I was so used to having.
This can be very disconcerting for a young player, and also very discouraging, especially if nothing is done about it quickly. The problem is the “fear and flight” problem that can develop within the human brain, wherein you actually start to always anticipate the symptoms of the fear, thereby rendering yourself incapacitated by the very fear of the symptoms of fear!
Well, if you expect to have any overcoming of this problem, you have to really stare it right in the face. The nervousness, which really most performers experience at some level or another, can actually learn to be “channeled” to make your performance even better and more intense than ever. Remember that when you are performing, you are always in a heightened state of emotional and even physical intensity; this can be further enhanced by taking that “natural nervousness” you’ve got and making sure that it gets to become an additional “friend” to the intensity you want to feel when playing. This is really the only way to overcome the “nerves”, and in fact can become a true ally to you, that you can start to even look forward to as you launch into your performance.
In the end, this is all really a very common experience for performers, and you must really make this a part of you becoming a better and more confident guitarist, who is willing to take his or her craft to a higher level, and to the public. At one point or another, we all must take this critical step, and go from the living room to the stage; make sure it’s a positive step in the right direction!