What is Stage Fright? 10 Simple Ways to Overcome Stage Fright

The Complete Guide to Preparing for Your Next Performances

Rose Park

Rose Park

3/21/21 • 4 min read • updated 3/26/24

What is Stage Fright?

Have you ever felt a nervous, jittery feeling before a performance? You might even feel it when you perform for your friends, family, and teachers during recitals, concerts and auditions. That’s what we call stage fright or performance anxiety, and it’s something many artists experience.

If you’re not able to overcome the stage fright quickly, it can end up controlling your entire performance. But don’t worry, there are many ways to beat stage fright and deliver great performances!

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Why Does Stage Fright Happen?

High Standards

When you set high standards for your performance, you are more likely to experience stage fright prior to the event. As you become more skilled, you may notice finer details of your performance, such as the atmosphere of the venue, conditions, weather, and quality of preparation, which can make you self-critical.

Peer Pressure

Stage fright from peer pressure occurs when you want to succeed in a competition or perform well in a studio class. The anxiety you feel in this case is not necessarily a bad thing because it can motivate you to work harder than others. Healthy competition with your peers can help you improve your performance quickly.

Pressure From Parents and Teachers

When parents and teachers push you to do better, it can create a sense of pressure that can lead to stage fright. You may feel like you need to perform well to meet their expectations and make them proud of you. Their expectations reflect their love and support for you, but this pressure can be overwhelming sometimes. It’s important to balance meeting their expectations with your mental and emotional well-being.

Lack of Practice and Preparation

Practicing is important to improve your music skills and overcome stage fright. If you feel like you need more practice, make time for it and ask for feedback from your teachers. Try experimenting with different methods to make your practice sessions more effective. Remember, practice makes progress!

What is stage fright? 10 ways to overcome stage fright

Part 1: Getting Set for Your Concert Day

Do a run-through like a real performance

Want to overcome stage fright and feel more confident before your performance? Try doing a run-through at the same time of day as your actual show, and wear the same concert attire you plan to wear. This will help train your body and mind to stay calm and focused under pressure, helping you overcome stage fright ahead of time. On the day of your actual performance, remind yourself that you’re simply repeating what you’ve already done successfully, and begin the performance with confidence!

Practice the music slowly

When you’re practicing your music, take it slow and break it down into manageable sections. Pay attention to all the little details, like the tempo, dynamics, fingerings, and harmonies. Use this time to really get to know the music inside and out, and check that you’re playing everything right. And if you have a memory slip during a run-through, don’t worry – this is the perfect chance to review and solidify your memory of the music.

Visualize the performance

Take a moment to close your eyes and visualize yourself walking onto the stage. Imagine yourself sitting down at the piano bench or standing in front of the audience, ready to perform. Plan and rehearse how you’ll start the performance by asking yourself these questions:

  • What’s the tempo of the music?
  • What’s the first musical detail I should not miss?
  • What gesture can I do to make a lasting performance?
  • How should I end the performance?

Remember to focus on the music more than your inner feelings. And keep in mind that the audience tends to remember the ending more than the beginning, so make sure you leave a lasting impression!

Get a good rest and save energy

For an outstanding performance, it’s important to save your energy. Try to avoid pushing your body to the limit during practice, and instead, review the musical details by reading the score. Overusing your body can lead to exhaustion and negatively affect your performance. Overall, it’s important to prioritize your physical and mental health, so don’t worry about tomorrow and focus on getting a good night’s sleep and relaxing.
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Part 2: Checking Final Details on the Performance Day

Do a final run-through

Let’s try it again, as if you were performing in front of the audience. Remember how you played during the last run-through and try to do even better this time.

What if you make a mistake during this final run-through? Don’t worry – take a look at the score and find the problem. Practice the problematic section at a slower tempo until you can play it flawlessly. When you have time, come back to the same section to give it another try.

Review the musical details

For example, when warming up on the day of the performance, make sure to review all of the musical details in your notes. Remember, focusing on these details can help ease any anxious feelings you might have. Also check the parts where you made mistakes before, and reassure yourself that you’ve got them sorted out. As long as you have a positive attitude and a good understanding of the musical details, you’re all set to give a great performance!

Do breathing exercises

Feeling nervous before a performance is normal and can make your heart race and your breathing feel fast and shallow. Try taking deep breaths at a steady pace to slow your heart rate and calm your adrenaline. Taking deep breaths can slow down your heart rate and relax your muscles. Give it a try and see how it works for you!

Plan and prepare the beginning

A great performance should have a strong beginning, steady progress, memorable climax, and an impressive conclusion. Before stepping onto the stage, take some time to visualize the melody of the opening line. Then, plan how you want to start. Plan how you want to begin the piece, which will also help you focus on the rest of the performance.

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Rose Park

Rose Park

Rose Park is a graduate of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where she studied Piano Performance and Arts Administration, receiving both Bachelor's and Master's degrees before co-founding Lesson With You. As a pianist, Rose was a prizewinner in many international piano competitions and performed at various summer programs and festivals across the United States, Italy, and Japan.