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How To Overcome Stage Fright

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So you can rock out in your bedroom, but when it comes to playing live in front of an audience, you suddenly feel nervous and unable to perform. Every musician has felt scared playing live at some point in their life, but to help overcome stage fright, here is Matchbox Music’s tips and tricks for conquering those nerves.

There Are No Such Thing As Bad Nerves

Before you get on stage you will undoubtedly feel the nervous. This is completely natural and happens when you encounter a situation that makes you stressed or anxious, causing the body to react with the fight-or-flight response. This is a release of adrenaline in anticipation for danger, use this to your advantage. This added adrenaline will help you perform better than ever, trust yourself!

Where To Look?

There is nothing more intimidating than standing up on stage in front of a group of strangers, with their blank faces peering up at you watching your every movement, waiting for you to entertain them. The first place your nerves will tell you to look is down at your feet, or stare intently at your instrument. However an audience can always tell if a performer is nervous if they are staring at their feet, and without eye contact people will lose interest. 

A neat trick to make your audience think that you are looking at them is to find a point at the back of the venue just above the audiences heads and look at it as you perform. You then don’t have to feel intimidated by looking the audience in the eye, and they will think you are looking at someone at the back of the room, the stage lights will also give you that charming dreamy glint in your eye.

What Were You Thinking?!

The reason a lot of people crack on stage when performing live is the added pressure of being watched by an audience. This is because the performer is concentrating so much on what the audience are thinking, that it takes up a high percentage of their thought process and they forget what they are doing. Most of us are bad at multitasking as it is, let alone when you are performing a complex piece of music and worrying about whether the person in the third row thinks your hair looks good or not.

To counter act this try focusing your mind on the task in hand:

•Think about how the notes sound; is the tone good? Is it too quiet or too loud?
•Are you grooving with the other band members?
•How is your form and technique?
•What section is next?

Do Not Fall Back On Liquid Courage

How many times have you heard people say that they can sing better when they are drunk? A lot of people think that they are better singers when they are drunk, just like a lot of drunk people think they can walk in a straight line when a policemen asks them to. However the reality is often quite different. Excessive drinking of alcohol can severely diminish your musical skills, balance and ability to hold down your dinner.

That being said it has been reported that a little bit of alcohol can calm the nerves, so if you have to drink, don’t have more than half a pint!  A lot of famous artists have messed up live on stage, due to drinking too much before hand. Eric Clapton once played a whole gig lying down on his back as he was too drunk to stand.


It has been proven that controlled breathing helps your body relax and your mind focus. As you get on stage and you feel the fear kick in, just try 3 deep breaths, breathing in deeply through your nose for 5 seconds and then exhale through the mouth for the same amount of time, try this 3 times and you’ll be amazed how much calmer and in control you’ll feel.


Do you image Usain Bolt jumps straight out of bed and sprints a record breaking 100m???.. Probably not.

In order to achieve your best performance you have to prepare your body and mind. Try simple exercises to warm up, like scales or running through one of your favourite tunes. Also try jogging on the spot for 30 seconds this will help the blood flow around your body and release tension which could hinder you when playing live.

Accept That It Is Ok To Fail


If you are scared of failing and that is all you are thinking about, you will probably fail. Accept that it is ok to fail, get comfortable with it, in the grand scheme of things it does not matter. A little bit of a punk rock attitude doesn’t hurt here; having the mindset of “I don’t give a damn what you think, I am going to do my thing and if you like it or not it doesn’t matter to me”. Applying this mindset will help you no end.

Learn From The Best

Some of the worlds best entertainers have excellent techniques for beating nerves, just watch and observe them and we’re sure you’ll pick up some of their tricks.

If you do suffer from stage fright we would thoroughly recommend that you try out some of the above technqiues. We hope you have enjoyed reading the blog, stay tuned for more 'Musician Series' blogs on other music industry topics, if you have any questions feel free to get in touch with us on our Twitter or Facebook.

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