I’ve been performing for a long time, and I can still remember my first public singing performance; a cover of Avril Lavigne’s "Sk8er Boi”. I remember it made me want to practice, because nerves are something I’ve dealt with since I started performing. Some of the best performers have suffered from an experience on stage and contracted stage fright - the Barbra Streisand Central Park incident where she forgot her lyrics kept her from performing out for over a decade! I’ve tried a lot of different remedies, from breathing techniques and vitamins to different teas and supplements. So I’m going to share with you the things that have helped me overcome my own experience with nerves before hitting the stage.
Valerian - I tried Valerian root, a natural supplement that is supposed to help your nerves before an audition in high school, and it was okay, but what I found out later was that you need to try it out before hand to find out what kind of dosage you need to start feeling calm. This works for me, but I don’t feel like it completely squelches the nervous energy.
Ashwagandha - This is a tablet I got from Whole Body and it decreases your anxiety level while still giving you energy. I found that this worked well for me, I didn’t feel as though I wasn’t nervous, I just felt I could better control the anxious energy.
Play smaller shows. Start with a room where your almost just background noise or entertainment. Build your confidence there, and then work your way up to bigger rooms where your art is the main focus.
The first show I ever played guitar and sang at was at Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta and it was traumatizing. I wore the wrong skirt which was a slippery material, I sat on a stool where my feet couldn’t touch the ground or the foot rest bar, I had only been playing guitar two weeks, and the one song I played was a mess. I LEARNED FROM THIS. I learned to think about the details that may seem insignificant but during a crucial moment can save you a lot of stress and panic. Think about how your wardrobe will affect your playing ability. Think about what you’re eating the day of the show, think about standing vs. sitting, because it all matters!
This is the method that always works for me. I practice until it’s in my bones. I practice until I can recover from a mistake. Practice until you are sick of it and then practice some more.
All of this put together helps me almost completely dissolve nerves or anxiety of any kind. What are your methods?