Having the opportunity to perform in front of an audience with you instrument is a feeling that is rather incredible. The rush of nerves and excitement, knowing that people have come to see you, and the fact that someone has asked for you to do this performance.
However, having the confidence to play, sing or even get on stage in front of an audience may be a daunting thought for many people. Yet once you build the confidence to perform, it will open an unbelievable amount of doors. Don’t think that you have the confidence? Here’s how you can.
Who are you performing with? In a duo, trio, a band, or a solo act. If you are in a duo, trio, or band finding confidence will come easy, as you have other people to feed off of. Having another musician by your side will allow you to feel more comfortable, as you are familiar with them.
They will also be there for guidance and support, much like a friend, a band member will encourage you and allow you to perform to your best extent. Performing solo, this may be slightly more daunting, as it is now all eyes on you. “I guess performing with someone so close next to you really makes you feel more comfortable” says bass player, Sophie, of “The Cunningham Sisters”. When performing solo, confidence is a holy grail attribute that you will need.
Having confidence whilst performing solo will allow people to see that you are comfortable being an independent musician. A confident solo musician is always prepared; whether it is for a request from the audience, encore, or being asked to stay behind for an extra half an hour or so- always be prepared.
Being confidently prepared means having a collection of songs that you are comfortable with performing, preparing a set list that will suit the feel of the venue, ensuring that all of your equipment is in good condition and your instruments are in tune. Mentally prepare yourself before going on stage or whilst heading to the location.
Chant or repeat a few positive quotes, for example “go confidently in the direction of your dreams”; or even coming up with a mantra, by repeating the mantra that you have thought of it will boost your confidence as it an idea that you have thought of that will calm your nerves. A great example of a mantra is something as simple as “you have got this” or “be happy and smile”. Now that your mind is mentally prepared, what songs will you be doing?
As a performer, you will want to choose songs that compliment your style and that you feel comfortable performing. Always prepare the songs ahead of time, never the night before. This will allow you to perfect the song and really make sure that it is one that should be added to your repertoire. If you must learn a song the night before; print out the sheet music, place it in a folder, and take to the gig to put on a music stand- granting you access to perform a song that has had barely any practice.
Performing songs that you are very familiar will be an asset to your confidence as your mind will be clear and calm, therefore you will barely have to focus on the words or chords, but more so on engaging with the audience. Test out some popular crowd pleasers, “Blackbird-The Beatles”, “Hallelujah”, “Jolene-Dolly Parton”, and Oasis’ “Wonderwall”. These songs are well known and are typically very simple to cover.
The key to a terrific performance is to perform like you are in front of your best friend. Act as if you have seen the audience a thousand times and you just want to engage with them, not be concerned about what they think. To not structure the song in your mind too much, but focus on someone or something.
Depending on the style of the song, picture something in your mind that help make the audience feel the song. For example, when performing a more mellow song such as Coldplay’s “The Scientist”, you really want to envision “if you have ever wanted something, lost someone, or loved someone”– as recommended by our phenomenal vocal teacher, Alex Riordan.
But for a more upbeat song such as “Scar” by Missy Higgins, passion and emphasis needs to come to the field and this has to be demonstrated by imaging a topic that you are extremely passionate about; such as equality. Paint the picture in your head, and show it through your instrument. “When you can really feel the music; confidence and expression come completely naturally. Passion drives you to your best and you end up being so caught in the music that everything just starts to feel natural” according to Georgia Cunningham, vocalist of “The Cunningham Sisters”.
Six top tips of having confidence when performing
- Develop a way of not focusing on the audience– whether that is creating your own “Sasha Fierce”, or even using the old “the audience are all in their underwear” trick. Find your way of “distracting” yourself from the audience
- Have a slight “ego”- at the end of the day, the performance is all about you! You want all eyes on you, and for of those eyes to know your However, DO NOT LET IT GET TO YOUR HEAD. Control the ego by developing it for stage presence and only to positively engage.
- Fashion sense- as cliché as it may sound, having the right outfit will help with your confidence immensely. Choose something that defines you, shows who you are and what your style is, and that is perfectly comfortable; as you will feel relaxed in what you are wearing and you will not be constantly worried about ensuring that a piece of clothing is in the correct place.
- Likewise, the right equipment- equipment is not everything when performing, however it does play a massive role. Become familiar with trusty brands; Behringer, Cube, Fender. By having quality equipment that you have your faith restored in, confidence will come easily! There is nothing worse than performing your first song and the feedback begins. Having good equipment allows you to avoid situations such as these
- Knowing your setlist well- become familiar with all of your songs and know them off by heart. If this is too hard, a piece of paper with all of your songs written down is always handy.
- Just do it!- performing is a skill that not everyone will get to experience over their time. So enjoy it and cherish every moment.
Here at NMA, we have plenty of gig opportunities to help build your confidence. Start small by coming along to the terrific Live Lounge events at King Bills and the Premier Hotel every month, or become a consistent performer with regular gigs at The Premier Hotel; The Maitland Markets; Jesmond shopping centre; and much more!
Growing up, I was an extremely shy and anxious child, with minimal confidence; however, over the past two years, I have been doing regular gigs and I can safely say that my confidence has sky rocketed. If you or your child wants to become a performer but is just that little bit too shy, bring them along to our next Live Lounge at King Bills on the 21st of September, and watch as they thrive off of a performance high. “Do it and don’t care”.