Stage Fright - what to do? HELP ME PLEASE

Hello, dear community,
At some point there will surely come a time for some of you when you want to show what you have learned on the harp in public or in front of family and friends.
But many people have so much stage fright that it works fine at home, but nothing more.
I’ve always felt this way. Singing solo in front of the school class earlier, no problem. But once it went out, it didn’t work for me because I forgot everything.
I taught myself guitar about ten years ago, which worked well. I could burn everything on CD and give it away, but not show it live. I get so excited then that I am playing completely wrong. Due to my current hand problems I had to stop playing the guitar and now I am learning with you, which is great.
In normal life, despite my disability and :wheelchair:, I have a healthy level of self-confidence.
That’s another reason why I can’t understand it with myself, especially since I was able to implement all my plans professionally.

My question to you: How do you do it and / or do you have tips on how to get rid of stage fright? :bulb: :thermometer:

I would be very grateful for your answers.

Best blues greetings from Astrid


Well, I can’t say I have too much experience @AstridHandbikebee63 about getting up on stage to play music, I do have some experience speaking, and I have sang a song or two on occasion.

My best advice is to just do it. Like NIKE says. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Maybe miss a few notes? No big deal. I think probably just do your best to play with heart and soul, without worrying too much about “perfection”.

In one post here, I remember @Luke saying that playing music is like a language and we all play it just a bit differently, and that’s okay. Give it your spice and your flavor, surely you will do great!


Imagine everyone sitting there in there underwear


:joy: Then I can’t play because of laughter … Now I have a mental cinema. :grin: The tip is good, I had completely forgotten. Thanks very much, @allanb116. :+1:


Hey Astrid - GREAT QUESTION!!! Like @HarpinBobbyMcB said Nike says “Just Do It” but I’m gonna add one more word:


You have to do it afraid. There’s no other way. In my first marriage my wife was very abusive and always told me I was a terrible singer. I heard it so many times over 10 years, I really believed it very deeply.

After we divorced, I returned to music. I remember the 1st time I got up at an open mic to play guitar and sing a song. Everything inside of me was screaming “You can’t do it!!!” But I did it any way. It was not very good. My voice was all shaky because I was so afraid.

Thankfully I had some good friends who were supportive of me and that helped. And every time I got up and sang in front of people it got a t TEENY TINY bit easier.

I wrote a little bit on this topic in an email I sent out a couple of months ago, and I’m gonna include it here in case it’s helpful:

My daughter used to play sax in a student jazz ensemble that my wife and I taught. The kids would take turns improvising. After one performance, we were talking about a solo that happened right before hers. I asked her, “Did you hear it?” She replied, “No! I was in THE FREAK-OUT ZONE!”

We all had a good laugh, and “The Freak-Out Zone” has become a family joke that we each love to bring up at opportune times.

But if you’ve ever been on stage, and you remember how you felt just before you stepped out into the spotlight, then you know exactly what the Freak-Out Zone is!

Stage fright is part of what it is to perform music in front of people. I’ve been performing in front of people for over 30 years, and I still get stage fright. It’s not something that you grow out of.

But… IF you can harness the energy well, stage fright can actually serve you ; if you don’t, the freak-out zone can turn your performance into a train wreck.

The key that I’ve discovered to being able to play great while in the freak-out zone is the same fundamental key to playing harmonica well: Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing. This means when you inhale your belly goes out, and when you exhale your belly goes in.

Nothing helps relaxation more than deep breathing. And relaxation is the #1 key to mastery.

By the way, train wrecks are not all bad. I could tell you some funny stories about how badly I’ve fallen on my face during performances. The ego gets bruised, but then time passes, and you realize life goes on. It’s not that big a deal. Nobody died. And that can actually help you have more confidence the next time you’re in the freak-out zone.

Just focus on taking nice deep breaths, Astrid. You got this!

Rock on,


Ich danke dir @Luke, was du schreibst ist es genau. Das hilft mir sehr zu sehen, dass so gute Spieler wie du es kennen.
Bei uns hier sagt man: “Sprechenden Menschen kann geholfen werden”.
Das war der erste Schritt in einer tollen Community. :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

Great advice Luke !

I used to date a ‘rock star’ over here in the UK. Many years ago. She fronted a band, and was known for her amazing voice. She is still known, and famous for her voice, twenty years after she finished the band. She was terrified before going on stage. She acted as though she wasn’t, of course. And she used alcohol and drugs to make it easier on her. None of her fans would ever know she suffered so much. Her coping mechanisms weren’t healthy of course, and eventually caused the band to split. Eventually she went into rehab and is clean now. The pressure she was under caused her to often be in the newspapers due to drunken antics. But it shows how even highly successful and famous musicians and singers still suffer from anxiety and stage fright. There is footage of her, headlining the Glastonbury festival, in front of over 100k people, where I can see the fear in her eyes. But she still gave an amazing performance.

So yes, feel the fear and do it anyway !

Also, from my experiences in martial arts… when we feel real fear/anxiety and stress, we tend to change our breathing patterns, which change our brain chemistry, by changing the ratios of oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitric oxide. We then tend to switch onto the sympathetic nervous system, and ‘flight or fight’. (corrected - thanks Slim)This is the more primitive part of the brain. We loose fine muscle control, fine motor skills and the like. In a fight, we then lose 90% of our skills, and have to rely on the 10% muscle memory remaining.

That’s why, under pressure, we can mess up pieces of music that we know really well. We lose the motor skills. Very frustrating.

We can control/mitigate and reduce that effect by learning to breathe properly. Look into Buteyko breathing. Its the closest thing to magic you’ll ever find, and an amazing hack to change your brain and physical wellbeing. I have practiced it for years, and it can be life changing.


Hi @HorseDoctor,

Very interesting story and good advice too.

Probably the safest way to avoid activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the “fight or flight” response is through proper breathing, as you and @Luke have noted. When done regularly it is much easier to then do it on stage and get the parasympathetic nervous system more into the game (and the so-called “rest and digest” response). This can dampen that nasty sympathetic system’s emergency activation – because there is no emergency! It’s all falsely constructed in our mind.

Thanks for the post!

– Slim :sunglasses:


Hi Slim.

Thanks for correcting me there…I was rushing. The SYMPATHETIC nervous system is indeed ‘flight or fight’. The PARASYMPATHETIC is ‘rest and digest’.

So many people exist 24/7 using the sympathetic nervous system, which makes for a tough life. Proper breathing is key.


@HorseDoctor, recht herzlichen Dank für die ausführliche Antwort.
Warum ich in dem Zusammenhang mit Lampenfieber nicht selbst darauf gekommen bin, wundert mich gerade.
Durch das Atmen beeinflusse ich schon seit Jahren meine chronischen Schmerzen, den Schlaf und Stress positiv.
Ich werde es jetzt noch gezielter anwenden. Super Tipp!
Leider ist es so, dass so mancher Künstler sich in Drogen und / oder Alkohol flüchtet. Immer sehr tragisch und schade.
Beste Grüße Astrid


Hi Astrid

So you already knew the answer. Breathing is everything. From harmonica to pain control, to vibrant good health. The way we breathe changes everything. You have the power !


Das ist wirklich die Wahrheit !!

That is really true !!

– Slim


Yes, agreed, it’s AMAZING the power of consciously focusing on deep, diaphragmatic breathing in EVERY facet of life as everyone has spoken of so eloquently in this thread.

And just one more reason the harmonica is so awesome; it gets us in touch with our breathing on a more conscious level.

Rock on harmonica fam! Let’s breathe to overcome stage fright, stress, and pain.



Same problem, anytime someone walks into the room I really mess up and stop.


Hallo @bubby.graves , dankeschön, dass du so offen antwortest. Wie du siehst, gibt es auch andere mit einem ähnlichen Problem.
Ich habe gerade gelesen, dass du hier neu beigetreten bist. Das finde ich prima und herzlich willkommen.
Beste Grüße Astrid

I put this on another thread, but it might be more useful here.

I can offer a tip that’s always served me well over the years, and has yielded many “I felt like you were singing just to me” type comments.

When on stage, pick three objects, that from your view, are just above the audience’s heads. One straight ahead, one left, one right. Usually it’ll be something like a clock on one wall, an exit sign above a door on another wall, and perhaps a sign or painting on another.
Then when playing, use them as your focus points, alternating between them. That way, you won’t be so nervous, because you’re playing to a clock, not focussing on anyone’s face, which can be awkward, and yet everyone in the audience will feel like you made a connection with them, and only them.
It works very well for calming nerves, and it avoids that awkward -
“I’m staring at that person! Oh no, now it’s obvious that I’m avoiding their gaze! Now I keep locking eyes! The more I try to avoid it, the more it happens! That girl thinks I’m coming on to her! That biker’s going to ambush me in the toilets because I keep pegging him out and locking eyes with him!” etc etc etc!!! :grimacing:


Hello @Dave_Dunn,
Cool, I just now read and replied to your other thread. :grin:


:rofl::joy: Absolutely love this @Dave_Dunn. Paranoia strikes deep! I could tell you so many crazy stories about things going through my head onstage. It’s nuts.

I learned something similar and valuable from a great vocal instructor I’ve studied a lot with named James Meny. This isn’t to deal with stage fright, it’s to create and build audience engagement, but your post reminded me of this so I thought I’d share it:

He said to divide your audience into 3 sections (in a small club, a big theater with balconies you’d have have more sections.) Spend a little time in each section, look for the person who is moving the most or smiling the most, make eye contact with them, nod your head, smile, see if you can get them to become even a little bit more enthusiastic, move to the next section. Rinse and repeat. That’s practical tips on how to connect with a crowd from a seasoned pro. :ok_hand:t3:


I wasn’t talking about paranoia, I was talking about the basic survival tips in regional South Australia! :grin::+1:


Ha. Roger that, Dave. :metal:t3::sunglasses: