4 Mistakes Guitar Players Make While Getting Ready For Live Performance And How You Can Avoid Them Before You Go On Stage

Jan 05, 2016 • By

Do you experience nervousness while performing live in front of other people? Almost everyone has this same anxiety! But it doesn't have to be like this. Once you discover the best approach for practicing and preparing for live stage performances (in the same manner as professional musicians do), you will enjoy performing much more.


There are two critical things you must do to prepare yourself for playing live:

1. Understanding how to practice guitar to make your playing totally reliable, precise and consistent regardless of the situation. 

2. Avoid committing the common errors that hurt your performance (which are made by most guitarists) when playing guitar live.

These are four of the biggest errors guitar players make while getting ready to perform live and how you can avoid each one:

Mistake #1: Paying Attention To The Wrong Things

Most guitar players let destructive thoughts take control of their mindset, causing them to continuously commit more mistakes. Here is something that most musicians don't know: your brain doesn't know the difference between what you want to happen and what you don't want to happen. Your brain really only knows (and moves you closer to) whatever you focus on the most. So if you focus on how embarrassing it could be to mess up in front of everyone on stage, your brain causes your body to become tense and actually make more mistakes. Whatever you focus on the most manifests into your reality.

Solution: To play better in live situations, fill your mind with thoughts of putting on a great performance before you get up on stage. Think about playing without making mistakes and see yourself having a good time. Whenever you do this on a consistent basis, you will achieve what you truly want, instead of letting your fears take control.

Notice: Of course this approach isn't a complete replacement for understanding how to play guitar with a lot more speed, with greater creativity and advanced technique. That said, it certainly will give you a great advantage whenever you play in front of others.

Mistake #2: Not Rehearsing For The Actual Performance

If you play guitar live with other musicians, you'll have to work on your individual playing. However, you and your band also need to rehearse not only the music you'll play, but the stage performance itself. If you don't do this, it'll be a major source of mistakes, fear and frustrations. To make things worse, your band will end up looking totally amateur.

Solution: Use some of your band's practice time to prepare for the "performance" aspects of your live show. Here is a short list of the most critical things to focus on:

-How/when amplifier settings will be changed.

-How/when you will select different pedal settings or synths.

-How/when you will tune your instruments.

-Going over the specific locations where every band member stands on stage.

-Having a clear understanding of where each person needs to be during the show.

-Your group stage presence during the performance.

-What each band member has to do between each song.

-How the band needs to engage with the audience.

-Communication between all band members during the show.

The more specific you can be, the better. Create your own list of things to prepare for relative to your unique needs and then rehearse the actual show to develop excellent guitar performing skills.

Mistake #3:Not Managing Tension As Effectively As Possible

When you have tons of tension in your body, it will become very challenging to play guitar well and almost impossible to perform without making tons of mistakes. Tension generally develops in two ways:

1. By focusing on the things you don't want to occur during your performance.

2. By building poor playing habits through improper guitar practice.

Until you learn to get rid of this unnecessary tension, performing guitar live will continue to be highly stressful and difficult for you.

Solution:Eliminating extra tension from your playing/performing must be done in two ways:

1. Developing clear and effective strategies for playing guitar without excess tension. This free online resource about becoming a fast guitarist will help you with this.

2. Preparing yourself mentally before every performance in order to eliminate tension and stress from your body. One method for this is to fill your mind with all the reasons why you are playing in front of others. You are not trying to "achieve perfection", impress anyone or be judged. You simply have a great passion for playing music and are excited to share it with everyone. This approach will subdue your anxiety during your performances.

Mistake #4: Not Practicing Damage Control

Regardless of how well you get ready for a live guitar performance, know that some mistakes will always find their way into your show. No one has the power to play guitar completely perfect all the time (particularly live). Instead you should prepare for how you will react whenever you make mistakes on stage. If you don't prepare yourself for this ahead of time, ANY mistake can throw you off, causing you to make more mistakes and lose control.

Solution: Go over the music you will be playing and do these steps:

1. Find the hardest parts to play in your music.

2. Think of the specific mistakes that could happen while playing those difficult parts.

3a. Practice these challenging parts to make sure that mistakes do not come up while playing live.

3b. Make a specific plan for what you will do to avoid distractions if you make a mistake. By anticipating what you will do during the mistake before it actually happens, you will guarantee that it will not throw your entire performance off and make it to where most people will not even notice if you mess up.

Once you combine great guitar practice with a "fail-safe" preemptive strategy for eliminating mistakes, you will remove any fears of performing guitar live and will free yourself to enjoying the show.

Now that you are more familiar with the most common errors guitar players commit while getting ready to perform in front of other people, integrate the tips for solving each one to improve your ability to put on great live performances. Prepare yourself for putting on better performances when playing faster musical parts by checking out this free guide about playing very fast on guitar.



About the Author

Tom Hess

Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, songwriter and a pro guitarist. He uses the best online guitar lessons to train guitar...