5 Confidence Building Techniques for Live Musicians

It's completely natural for musicians to feel nervous or shy about performing live. So, here's 5 tips to help build your confidence for your next live performance.  

Every profession has challenges. If you’re a fireman, you have to face fires. If you’re a policeman, you get the challenge of explaining why you’re taking someone’s money for going 5 miles over the speed limit. And, if you’re a musician, you get the challenge of performing live. And, while you may be the belle of the ball when you walk on stage, there are many of us out there that get really nervous. That being said, here are some techniques that have helped me feel much better while preparing for a show! 

1. Practice in Front of a Camera!

practice in front of the camera

We are most scared of what we cannot perceive. Well, you’re appearance is probably one of the hardest to perceive, even when you have a mirror in front of you. Because you can’t see yourself, you’re constantly second guessing the way you look, smile, walk, talk, and so on. When you video tape your practices and your movements, suddenly, you get real, hard, unimagined data on all of the things you really do. Once you see it in action, you can correct any perceived issues that you’re missing, see what you’re really like and improve as you go along. Try 30 minutes a day, for a week, and notice how many people ask you what’s different.

2. Practice Your Part

practice makes perfect

There may be a temptation to just be one guy, on stage, with a laptop. And, more power to you if you choose to go that way. And, you may know how to trigger scenes in Ableton Live with the best of them. But, here’s a tip: People don’t go to shows to watch guys press buttons. They go to see people perform. With that being said, get a controller up there, and really play a part. Practice the parts that you’ve assigned yourself till you get to the point that you can see everything in your head. By preparing, you feel prepared, and that will bring great confidence.

3. Moves

get your moves right

In addition to tip 2, it’s really important to learn to feel comfortable moving around on stage. The first time most people perform live, they often forget to practice, or at least get an idea of how and when they’ll move within a song. Simply electing to stand there is an option. And, the only option if you’re a Cello player, or something that takes away your movement. But, if you’re a guitarist, keyboardist, or simply a laptop musician, you have a lot of room for movement. Try moving while you’re practicing your part in front of the camera. How do you look? How does it feel? What feels good? If you let yourself go with this a little bit, it can change your life.

4. Positive Self-Talk

be positive

This is where a lot of people start to nod off. For some reason, the idea of talking kindly to yourself, or showing compassion to yourself makes a lot of people uneasy. It’s like they think that they are going to lose their edge, and go soft. Well, many truly great people have used positive self-talk, like simply saying to yourself, “Good job”, or patting themselves on the back. The question to ask yourself is: There’s no one to show you how to  be comfortable and confident on stage. But, if there was, how would you want them to treat you? What would you want them to show you? Then, proceed forward, instructing yourself, with praise and positive critique. It may sound crazy. But, it works.

5. Dress for Success

This part of building yourself up is essential, and needs some thought. And, it pairs with all the steps above. As you’re talking nice to yourself, as you’re practicing your moves, as you’re practicing your parts all in front of a camera... Try out some different clothes. And, as you try these outfits out, choose on this criteria, only: Is it comfortable? And, does it make you look better?

comfort on stage

Comfort, on stage, is key. You don’t want outfits that inhibit movement, you want outfits that let you feel free, and make you feel like a baller. Dark clothes are a great way to go, as they hide form and make you feel more mystique. But, if you’ve got the physique, I’d suggest choosing some clothes that catch the eye. Especially, small accessories, like hats, that have colors like indigo, orange, yellow, or red. These colors catch the eye, and help keep eyes focused on you. Also, color is known by medical science to sub-consciously affect mood. For example: Women are greatly attracted to the color red. Enjoy!

Sound Designer, Musician, Author... G.W. Childs has worn many hats. Beginning in the U.S. Army back in 1991, at the age of 18, G.W. began learning electronics, communications and then ultimately audio and video editing from the Department of Defense. Upon leaving the military G.W. went on to work for many exciting companies like Lu... Read More

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