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The AFM has a proud history of managing change rather than being victimized by it. We find strength in adversity, and when the going gets tough, we get creative - all on your behalf.

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Home » Resources » Health » Don’t Fear the Fans: Try These Strategies to Overcome Stage Fright

Don’t Fear the Fans: Try These Strategies to Overcome Stage Fright


Though musicians dream of a full, totally engrossed audience, some of them take the stage with almost paralyzing feelings of anxiety. Stage fright threatens to destroy their concentration and sabotage their flawless performance. Here are some strategies you can try to help overcome performance anxiety.


Close to your performance night, put yourself through several “dress rehearsals.” Pretend that you are performing before an audience, and if you make a mistake, keep going. Knowing that you can carry on and improvise solutions will make you worry less on performance day.

See if you can arrange to visit the venue before the performance to familiarize yourself with your viewpoint from the stage. Walk around a bit until you feel comfortable, and imagine exactly where you will be sitting or standing while performing. Look out at the seats and imagine an audience full of clapping, supportive fans.

Avoid caffeinated beverages in the hours leading up to your performance time. It can make you feel jittery. Instead, try to find time to get at least 30 minutes of exercise (go for a run or brisk walk) to get your endorphins going.

Own the Audience

Arrive early so that you don’t feel rushed. Let yourself be nervous only up to the time you enter the venue door. Picture yourself shutting your anxiety outside. Focus completely on your performance and don’t let extraneous worries fill your head. Come up with five positive thoughts every time a negative one pops into your head.

If you arrive before the audience you will feel more like you “own” the venue. If possible, greet and mingle with people as they arrive. That way you will see them as friendly and supportive. Remember, they want to be there. They either paid an admission fee to get in or have, at the very least, dedicated their evening to listening to your music.


Before you take the stage, try to find a moment alone to relax. Jog in place or jump up and down a few times to dissipate any nervous energy, then try doing some stretching and deep breathing. Whether it’s physical activity or stillness, do what works for you. Easing your tension will steady your voice and allow you to focus on your performance.

Once you feel calm, close your eyes and either empty your mind by focusing on one body part at a time or visualize your flawless performance, including a standing ovation and looking out at a sea of smiling faces. Give yourself a positive pep talk, recalling all your skills and previous performances.

Acknowledge any lingering fears, and put that energy into your performance. Walk out on stage with your head held high and a big smile on your face.

Consult a Professional

If you are unable to get your performance anxiety under control, you shouldn’t be shy about contacting a professional who can provide strategies focused to your particular situation. Many musicians have been helped by psychologists and consultants of all types. Contact your primary care physician to talk about options and recommendations.

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