Trying to get rid of jitters

Hi, I’m 70 years old and started learning guitar about three years ago with the help of Justin’s course. I particularly like finger style guitar. In May, I am going to a family reunion and intend to play a few songs. Every time I try to play in front pf other people I get nervous. My fingers trip over the strings and I forget parts of the song. To try to get rid of these fitters, I decided to post my first song in this community.

I hope you enjoy rendition of What a Wonderful World. Any comments are appreciated.


No need to be nervous, I enjoyed every second of that. Congratulations on posting your first video and keep them coming!

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That was terrific Denis, really well played. Your family will be most impressed if you play like that at the reunion. I suppose the only way to get rid of the jitters is to play in front of people more often which is easier said than done.
Was that a ‘one take first take’? I find that recording myself on that basis helps focus nerves. Looking back at the recording lets you know you can do it. A best of 10 takes gets you a better version of course but you’ll only get one chance at your reunion.

Good luck at the ‘do’ and let us know how you got on.


You’re doing really well for only playing for 3 years. Your family will love it. This video Justin did about anxiety.

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@DenisG This is really beautiful - there is a lot of emotion conveyed through your playing. Plus, you keep a strong consistent rhythm throughout. Do you tap a foot to keep in check, it may help with jitters of playing to an audience. If you felt nervous during this recording - you have a good poker face as it was not coming across.

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Sounded great to me Denis and more importantly you looked nicely relaxed and in control of everything. Try and get to that same headspace for the reunion!!

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That was wonderful, Denis. Keep making recordings and maybe consider finding a local Open Mic where you can practice performing. The more frequently you do it the more familiar and comfortable you will become.

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Congratulations on your first AVOYP posting Denis, that was just wonderful. Your fingerpicking is fantastic. Bravo!

There should be nothing for you to be nervous about but try telling your brain that. Sometimes it’s our worst enemy but just keep on with the positive mantra, “I’ve nothing to be nervous about”.

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Actually this was my second take, I badly started the first one.

Hello Denis, this sounds lovely! Being nervous is normal but is it anxiety or excitement? Watch Justin’s lesson on this, that Stich has linked above, it’ll help you. I also find it useful to practice imagining to be in the situation that will be, in front of people, I try to connect to those emotions so that I can have a chance to learn to cope with them…it’s not the easiest thing to do, it makes you do more mistakes…which is also good, as keeping on going if a mistake accidently happens is a skill in itself to develop.

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Sounds great, you are doing particularly well. I get similar jitters at times in front of people I’ve not played for before, yet can do an open mic in front of dozens without jitters. Go figure. Recording is a great thing to do, the red light on the camera will give me jitters, the more you play in front of others (including a camera), the better you’ll get and reducing the jitters. Hang in there.

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Wow, that’s very impressive. :+1: :sunglasses: :heart: :pray:

I very much enjoyed your play. It’s really impressive and only in 3 years. The most impressive, is that you convey the feeling through the guitar. You are able to transfer the feeling. I don’t hear that many who do that. You can listen to people who have played for way longer and don’t have it, they play the piece totally clinically clean, but doesn’t transfer anything. I think, that is what Justin call the groove. I have heard classical players play really nice pieces and very clean, but it’s like without substance. I prefer listen to you over them, because you play the guitar and not just one chord after the other. Beautiful. No need to shy :heart: :pray:

Was also the first and foremost thing I noticed. He is darn good, isn’t he. Only three years with Justin and things just flow. Very beautiful. :+1: :sunglasses:

@DenisG - In May, meaning you have a month at least. Not sure what to suggest or any good advice. I have wholeheartedly worked with my mind for more than 25 years and we use different things to trick the mind, to make it workable. What work for me, might not work for you. Working with the mind is very individually, just like learning to play guitar. I see so many similarities, with what I have spend more than 25 years on.

The key here is to find a trick, that works for you. Since you say that you get nervous every time you play in front of people, then maybe that would not work. Else I would have suggested to to make as many shows for friends and family before the reunion, as things become more and more easy.

Justin made the video: The objective observer. -
This is little different, because in this case you don’t need the objective part. You just need to be an observer, to play the music, to be present, that’s all.
You could say to yourself, that you have nothing to loose, you are more than good enough, sing Beatles Let it be and so on. But here I have a feeling this is not the key. It might help, but it’s not the breakthrough that you desire. I could be very wrong though. You know yourself best.

What I think is that you need a line from the comments, something that just hits you. Like a blessing a deeper understanding, some kind of aha experience. :slight_smile: It can come from anywhere. Maybe next time you go shopping and the shop keeper say something out of the context and pling…something just happen in the mind.

For some it can be helpful to investigate. Ask yourself, “what am I really afraid of”. If you investigate like Sherlock Holmes, take everything apart, simplify it. An example could be like: Fear before or during performance is only temporarily. When going about in daily life, there is no fear. No fear when I do the dishes, even if someone look at me. No fear when I go shopping among all these strangers and so on and so on. So these feelings, these kind of emotional obscuration is not always there. So they come and go. Where did they go and where did they come from?
So it must be a habit in the background, then when the right tricker comes ( in this case, perform in front of others) the habit get into action and a reaction come, being nervous.
So the anxiety is not real. It comes and goes. It’s just a habit. It’s all mind.

For some, investigating like that, just makes the breakthrough and anxiety just goes away, like dew when the sun rise.

Sorry for the very long post. But working with the mind can be tricky at times. Like learning the guitar, we really have to find our own way in this jungle and no one knows one better than oneself.

For some people, the most effective way is to face the fear and then let go. Again and again and again. Then slowly it goes away. Simple mind training.

But already now, I have the feeling you will figure it out, just like you have figured out how to train, in order to play so beautiful on the guitar. I really have totally confidence in you, that you will work it out before the reunion. :heart: :pray:


Great job on this classic!!!
Jitters will always be part of the performance.
Practice will definitely help.
I enjoyed this production.

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That is a properly musical and sensitive version of Wonderful World, Denis, and you should be proud of it.
Making this recording will have already made you more confident, but in addition, if you have a chance to play it again in front of any other real audience ( anyone - the postman, next door neighbour…) before your family reunion, then that can only hone your skills further.
A little thing that would make you more relaxed and save wear and tear on the tendons would be to keep your right arm - wrist - hand more in a relaxed straight line, as twisting your wrist downwards makes it more difficult to play
All the best

Hi Denis,

that was really terrific. You have a very good technique going there, and the arrangement was really very beautiful. You should have your family spellbound!

Now for the subject of stage fright, separate from all of the very good advice you already had.

Of course we are all aficionados here, and we do appreciate each others efforts, and families can be sometimes less forgiving.

The one thing you’ll have to think about in advance is to try and control for though is the audience and the setting. Family reunions do tend to be rather noisy affairs, with aunty Rose catching up with cousin Cecile etc, and grandchildren or great grandchildren running about the place, and resistant to even the best of organizational efforts. You’ll have to be in a kind of a bubble not to get distracted by that, or even upset, when that happens. Its easier if others are also performing, and you slot in to some pre-agreed programme, so that it’s clear what is happening, and everybody is there to listen to you performing. It also helps if there is something to amplify your guitar with like a PA system, or an acoustic amp, so you can be a little louder than the (usual ) background noise that is bound to happen. Think about lighting (the lights should be on you, not on them), ambient noise (best not in the garden next to the swimming pool when the midday sun is beating down on you) etc.

And… when you play you are the performer, no longer just the granddad, or the father to adult children, and you’ll probably need to think a bit how you address the audience as a group, to make it as smooth going for you as possible, to make you feel at ease, and at the same time in control, and think how to keep them engaged in your playing. One way of doing this is to share with them why a song or a piece is important for you, and how it links to shared experiences and memories, and give them a little of yourself that is out of the ordinary.

If you have 2 to 4 family members nearby it will probably be a good thing to ask them to listen to your playing a few times. Then you can plan things better and you’ll have established a routine before the big occasion. When you play as in the AVOYP you shared with us, they will like it, and you’ll have the benefit of creating positive expectations and have some free publicity as well.

And most important of all, just have fun sharing your art with those that are dearest to you, and do not get upset if you skip a few bars, just keep on going.

Good luck, and if you manage, post a little video of your playing at the family gathering made by a supportive family member, we’ll all enjoy that very much.

All the best,


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Great playing Denis! Really enjoyed that! Nothing I can add to the fabulous advice above about coping with jitters. In fact, I have really enjoyed reading the comments and have picked up some great tips for myself. Thank you for creating this topic :smiley: :+1:

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Hey Denis,

You may have been " jittery" on the inside, but from the outside, it was all class mate. Very enjoyable. Well played, delicate, good use of dynamics.
Your family will be more than impressed.

In fact, you may as well take your hat with you, and make some cash while you’re there :smile:

Cheers, Shane


You don’t need to be nervous.that was great.

No jitters there Denis. Your inspiring me to try a video! And move back to picking which I did when I was younger. Fam will have to be impressed. :guitar:

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Hello Denis, this was awesome :star_struck: . I enjoyed every single second of it :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: .

I also love finger picking and know, that when nerves come in, it’s much more difficult to play correctly than strumming (at least that’s my personal experience). Many great tips have already been given. So there’s nothing left open, I guess. I just can repeat, try to record yourself as often as you can or play in front of friends to get used to the situation.

Just two weeks ago, I played a song (with my lyrics) at my mother’s 70th birthday. Including finger picking - and yes, I made several mistakes. Nevertheless, my mum was so excited, to get ‘her own song’ and was so grateful for the time and love I’d put into it, that the mistakes didn’t matter at all. It was fine the way it was :wink: .

I wish you all the best for your performance at the family reunion. You’ll be doing great :smiley: .

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