Today I pushed my limits and played one song live in a square. It was an amazing experience but also unexpected, so I made mistakes and this triggered some insecurities.
I’ve been playing guitar for a year and I’m currently at the beginning of grade 3. During the summer my bestie and I started some sort of band and we’re now working on playing live on the streets and some coffee shops.
Whenever I practice with my bandmate or I do Justin’s lessons I feel so accomplished with my progress and I absolutely love the process.
However, when I get to perform in front of others I feel I know nothing and I’m in reality a fraud that doesn’t really know how to play.
I know that this negative self talk and comparing myself to better guitarists won’t help but sometimes these thoughts just come up.
It would really help me to know if anyone else has experienced this and how they got over it.
Also, I want to say a huge thank you to this community that has always made me feel included and safe.
You are 100% normal. Not a fraud. I learned most of what I know from Justin guitar the past 2 years. I don’t have stage fright but I do bomb in performing sometimes. It is not something to beat yourself up about. Look at my love of a lifetime video here. My friend told me “you murdered that song”, but he has 20!years experience playing so I don’t care. I compare me to me only. Some of my attempts are really good. I’m sure you have lots of great performances under your belt. For your experience level that is amazing!’ You are a star. I perform in public too and not always so great. Look at it like this. If someone dares to jeer you invite them up to show you how it’s done. I bet no one steps forward. To that end, no one has ever complained about how I play in public. Just my advice, there is never a shortage of people who tell you what can’t be done. Those are people who failed and misery loves company. You are a success story because you’re still here trying.
I have never played live to real people, only the folk here on our open mics (do they count?)
But I noticed you have not posted any recordings here, I think that would be a good way to gain confidence, as I suspect that is what the problem is at the moment. You may only be recording in front of a webcam or your camera but there are still nerves and every time you hit the record button you will feel the nerves. You will fluff chords, miss words and choke but you will learn to manage that and get through to the end, then it will start to become second nature - and in a safe environment, in fact an ideal way to rehearse what you are playing on the street - and HUGE KUDOS for giving that a go !! Learn your trade in a safe environment, while still playing in the real world. I think it will help you grow and develop and if you share in AOVYP you will get feedback and advice, that will also help you in the long run.
Listen to the madman. He knows what he is talking about. Toby, I want to get in on the open mic eventually. Why should you have all the fun and huge fan base and not me:) Solid advice here. We are all a work in progress.
Even journeyman musicians make a mistake. I did last week playing a simple song on stage with my daughter. My hand was moving away from the strings until I got back in time. My 10 year old showed me how it’s done and kept in time. Nobody noticed. Another guy I was with forgot the words to his own song. Who cares, we had fun.
There’s a massive secret that the best musicians in the world know, and that I’m going to let you in on: Only you know exactly what and how you intended to play during a song, nearly no-one else knows  that you think you’ve missed a strum, got a finger slightly wrong, got a bit of fret-buzz or a load of string squeak.
There’s really good advice here from the other members. I just want to add that you don’t need to be the best guitarist in the world, not even the best guitarist in the room. So long as the audience is entertained you’ve succeeded. Even just working up the courage to perform in public is a huge accomplishment. Well done.
As someone who has seen/heard quite a few street musicians, my advice is this: always tune up and keep on checking it from time to time. There’s hardly anything worse than hearing an out of tune instrument, and the reverb at places like underpasses/subway stations may worsen this problem. Passers-by may not be familiar with the song you’re playing, but if you play at a consistent tempo, it will sound OK. However, if your guitar is out of tune… don’t be that person.
I can only talk in general terms as I’m not that far along on my guitar journey but I’ve spent my life being plagued by perfectionist tendencies where nothing I do is ever good enough (literally nothing) and gradually overcoming that simply by being kinder to myself, speaking to myself as though I’m someone that I like rather than someone who is my worst enemy. It might sound kinda cheesy but it’s helping a lot. So my advice to you is to give yourself a big old pat on the back for getting out there and playing. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t perfect, it was the best you could do right now. You’ll keep practicing and next time maybe you will nail it, or have more songs, but for right now, well done!
I will argue the point about perfectionism with anyone. Like them, I mistakenly thought it was good, always pushing yourself to be better. In truth it makes you dislike yourself and give up. It’s not a quality to strive for
Hi Helen! I completely empathize with you. While I haven’t yet performed live in a situation like that (and I do hope to some day), I can totally imagine the experience and the feelings you had - feeling like, in private, that you’ve accomplished a lot, but then when performing in public feeling totally insecure, that you really messed things up, and perhaps even that you’re a fraud or really not that great. I can imagine feeling like that myself in that situation.
First, I would like to commend you for your bravery in actually doing that! It takes a lot of courage to face your fears, get out there, and actually perform in front of REAL PEOPLE! So kudos on that! Second, as others here have said, the audience likely didn’t hear the mistakes or was anywhere near as critical of your performance as you yourself were. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of that where someone performed live and thought they completely bombed it, but got so much praise afterward for their performance. I can’t really offer any specific advice beyond what others here have said (which has been great), but I would maybe suggest to try to be kind to yourself for what you actually did. Perhaps imagine it as how you would respond to and support a close friend who was in your situation, maybe that might help? Keep at it!
I’m so glad that there are people who understand me and are so kind to me (although I’m not so happy that others struggle with perfectionism too but that’s another story😂)
Anyway, I truly want to thank you all because you’ve helped me become more confident and kinder with myself.
I hope we can all work towards that better version of ourselves musically and generally. I also wish you all get the chance to perform live sometime. Despite the nerves, it’s a very rewarding experience!
Hi Helen, good advice has been already provided. I would like to add that you are already doing what you wanted, performing in front of an audience. You probably have done better than you perceived, and if you felt insecure about any part of your playing and singing, you can just record yourself while practicing or performing and look at what can be improved with more specific practice for those parts. I do not perform live for other people (other than OM XII), but if you have your playing and singing, if you sing, amplified, managing your sound levels can be other factor to handle; Finding the live sound you want.
I have it too even when playing for my GF! but she pushes me to continue when i get nervous and make mistake. i am always very excited to show her what i have learn .
but when is time to do, lool it all feels like i have no idea what i am doing.
how to get over stage fear ? wel. continue putting yourself on the situation over and over again.
and when u feel those negatieve talks creeping in remind yourself that it is all a progress and trust that progress, you are better than you were a couple of months ago, and in another couple of months