4 Errors Guitarists Commit While Getting Ready For Live Performance & How To Avoid Them Before Getting On Stage
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4 Errors Guitarists Commit While Getting Ready For Live Performance & How To Avoid Them Before Getting On Stage

Do live performances on stage make you feel anxious? Almost everyone goes through this! But it doesn't have to be this way. Once you start learning how to better practice and prepare for live stage performances, you will be able to have much more fun whenever you play guitar for others.

There are two fundamental aspects of preparing yourself for playing live:

1. Understanding how to practice guitar to make your playing totally reliable, precise and consistent regardless of the situation.

2. Avoid committing the common errors that hurt your performance (which are made by most guitarists) when playing guitar live.

These are four of the biggest errors guitar players make while getting ready to perform live and how you can avoid each one:

Mistake #1: Not Practicing For When Things Go Wrong

Even if you feel totally ready for a great live guitar performance, mistakes will always happen in one way or another. No one plays guitar perfectly all the time (especially in live performances). Instead, you need to prepare for how you will react if and when you make mistakes on stage. If you don’t do this, ANY mistake might cause an awkward moment and throw your whole performance off.

Solution: Go over the music you will be playing and do these steps:

1. Find the hardest parts to play in your music.

2. Think of the specific mistakes that could happen while playing those difficult parts.

3a. Practice these challenging parts to make sure that mistakes do not come up while playing live.

3b. Think of a specific plan for what you need to do avoid losing concentration if you make a mistake. When you do this, you will guarantee that a mistake will not become a big deal during your performance (and most people won’t notice it).

Mistake #2: Not Managing Tension As Effectively As Possible

When you have tons of tension in your body, it will become very challenging to play guitar well and almost impossible to perform without making tons of mistakes. Tension generally develops in two ways:

1. By focusing on the things you don't want to occur during your performance.

2. By building poor playing habits through improper guitar practice.

If you are unable to eliminate this extra tension, performing guitar live will always be stressful for you.

Solution: Cutting down on extra tension in your playing/performing must be done using these actions:

1. Developing clear and effective strategies for playing guitar without excess tension.

2. Putting together a mental routine to go through before every playing performance that will eliminate anxiety and stress from your body. One effective approach to use for doing this is to think about all the reasons why you are performing in front of others. You are not trying to “be perfect”, impress anyone or to be judged by others. You do it because you have a strong passion for music and are enthusiastic to share your passion with everyone in the crowd. This mindset change will soothe your anxiety during your performance.

Mistake #3: Not Rehearsing For The Actual Performance

If you play guitar live with other musicians, you’ll have to work on your individual playing. However, you and your band also need to rehearse not only the music you’ll play, but the stage performance itself. If you don’t do this, it’ll be a major source of mistakes, fear and frustrations. To make things worse, your band will end up looking totally amateur.

Solution: Use some of your band’s practice time to prepare for the “performance” aspects of your live show. Here is a short list of the most critical things to focus on:

-The logistics for how you will alter amplifier settings.

-The logistics for how you will alter your pedal settings or synths.

-The logistics for how you will tune your instruments away from the stage.

-Going over the locations on the stage where every band member stands during specific times of each song.

-Knowing the positions where everyone needs to be at during every moment in the show.

-Your overall stage presence during the performance.

-What each band member needs to do between songs.

-How the singer and band will engage with the audience.

-Communication between all band members as the show is going on.

The more specific you can be, the better. Create your own list of things to prepare for relative to your unique needs and then rehearse the actual show to develop excellent guitar performing skills.

Mistake #4: Paying Attention To The Wrong Things

Most guitar players let destructive thoughts take control of their mindset, causing them to continuously commit more mistakes. Here is something that most musicians don’t know: your brain doesn’t know the difference between what you want to happen and what you don’t want to happen. Your brain really only knows (and moves you closer to) whatever you focus on the most. So if you focus on how embarrassing it could be to mess up in front of everyone on stage, your brain causes your body to become tense and actually make more mistakes. Whatever you focus on the most manifests into your reality.

Solution: To perform better on stage, think of yourself playing at your very BEST in the last few days before your performance. Focus on visualizing yourself playing without mistakes and enjoying every single moment. Whenever you can do this consistently, your fears will be replaced with excitement and confidence.

Notice: This positive mindset isn’t a substitute for actually putting in the work to play with faster speed and better accuracy on guitar, develop solid technique, improve your improvising creativity, etc. That said, it certainly will give you a great advantage whenever you play in front of others.

As soon as you combine excellent guitar practice with a “fail-safe” plan for cutting down on mistakes, you will totally remove all the fears you might have about performing guitar live (freeing yourself to have fun during your performance).

Tom Hess is a successful professional guitar player, composer and international guitar teacher. He also helps musicians learn guitar online and reach their guitar playing goals. Visit his rock and metal guitar lessons site to read more articles about guitar playing, plus get free guitar tips and guitar playing resources.


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