Most musicians at one time or another have had to deal with stage fright. For those that don’t know what stage fright is, Wikipedia defines it as follows: Stage Fright – is the anxiety, fear, or persistent phobia which may be aroused in an individual by the requirement to perform in front of an audience.
I have personally struggled with stage fright for years. In my younger days my hands would get so wet from sweating (nerves) that I would find myself struggling to hang onto my drum sticks during a live performance. I would average one drum stick flying out of my hand ‘per show’ from age 10 thru 15, usually during a critical drum solo or fill. Later in my 20s I learned to hold onto the sticks, but I would snap sticks like toothpicks out of the gate with my amped up nerves. Next I graduated to struggling with tempo by coming out of the gate too fast at the start of a show due to hyped nerves. Today, I can’t wait to get on stage, keep a solid tempo, smile and put on a great show. I’m just thrilled to be here and that somebody wants to watch me perform.
I found that in my case, my stage fright would never really go away, I would simply learn to harness the energy and channel it differently. I now use stage fright as a means to actually improve my live performance. For example, I once witnessed a drummer dropping a stick, pausing, then calmly picking up another and twirling it. He had turned the error into showmanship. You can do the same with nervous energy. I used to Marvel at great front men like Elvis Presley, that seem to be able to perform on large stages as if they were in their own living room. That is until I watched a documentary showing Elvis backstage trembling and sweating profusely in his seat prior to walking on stage. I then realized for the first time that being nervous was not limited to amateur or intermediate performers, but in fact “all” performers, no matter how polished, professional or great at their craft.