Your first performance as a ukulele player is coming up and you have the jitters. Whether it’s a recital, your first busking stint or your first public performance as a band, you need to be prepared and get rid of those feelings of anxiety. But how do you do that especially since the idea of playing in front of a crowd makes you dizzy?
Relax. Every accomplished musician has experienced that kind of nervousness before a show. Just keep this in mind: You’re not alone. And we’re here to lift your spirits up by giving you some practical tips for preparing for your big day (or night). Even if your first major ukulele performance is still months away, there are things you can do today to get ready for that event. Let’s get started!
Warm up at open mics
Attend local open mics where you know or may be friends with other musicians. Being in a familiar and supportive environment can help you get the courage you need to take the stage. You’ll also have a better idea of the kinds of music the crowd likes so you can practice and prepare.
Think of performing at open mics as a warm-up to a bigger performance. It’s a great experience that can help build confidence and motivate you to pursue a career in music.
Practice makes better
The saying usually goes “Practice makes perfect,” but if you aim for perfect you’ll only be more nervous and terrified of making mistakes. Instead, think of practice as a way to make you a better performer than you were yesterday.
And being a performer doesn’t mean not making any mistakes - it’s knowing how to handle those boo-boos if and when they happen. To give you an idea, read this article about how to recover from making mistakes on stage.
When you practice your piece or set, imagine it as a mini performance. Play as if you’re in front of an audience. If you make a mistake, don’t stop but take note. After the piece, recall your mistake and make a mental note on how you can address it. This method teaches you to be mindful of what you do while also honing your performance skills.
Prepare yourself physically
Your big day is nearing, what else should you do? Well, since performance is also a physical activity, you need to make sure you are physically prepared. If your performance is a two-hour gig, you have to work on your endurance to play ukulele for that stretch. Work toward a healthy body along with a healthy mind so you can be in the right physical and mental state to perform.
Do the following:
- Practice breathing exercises. Your brain needs a steady supply of oxygen in order to function. Nervousness and the rush of adrenaline can make your breathing uneven, which is something you need to avoid. Learn to take deep, slow breaths via controlled breathing techniques.
- Eat something light. Avoid performing on an empty stomach as it can lead to tummy and energy problems. A small sandwich, some crackers and granola bars are good options for a pre-performance snack. These will provide you with enough energy but won’t make you too full that you’d feel like throwing up before you get onstage.
- Stretch! Stretching helps warm up the muscles you’ll use and helps you avoid muscle strain. It can also relax you. Make it a habit to do a few neck, shoulder, arm and finger stretches before your practice sessions so you won’t forget to do them before your big performance.
Those are just some things you can do to get yourself ready for a major performance. If you’re feeling anxious, just take a deep breath and think positive. Your first big performance is a milestone and something you can learn from. It’s both a humbling and rewarding experience that can shape you into the best musician you can be, so take time to prepare. Good luck!
Written by Rebecca Marlow – Knowyourinstrument.com