Performing with confidence comes with experience and most musicians build their own routines and have a way of mentally and physically preparing themselves. The main focus should be to overcome self-doubt and perform for the love of your songs, cutting out the disbelief in yourself.
Let’s look at potential factors that contribute to feeling confident and ready mentally before a musical performance.
Looking ready for your performance
Feeling happy with your look is the first part of being ready for a night to shine on stage. You should feel comfortable with what you wear because it connects with your image as a musician.
You should also feel connected with your audience which will bring the best out of both parties.
If you are working on your image, you might be interested in the article I wrote about Your Image as an Artist.
Warming up the right way
Having a few good ways to warm up your voice and fingers is a good way of feeling ready for the stage. This can be done in the band room backstage or even in your car if you would prefer more privacy.
Call your band members together for a quick vocal warm-up with a focus on harmonising. You should probably need about 15 minutes max to warm up the vocals.
Arrive punctually at the performance venue
Not only does this contribute to your professionalism as a musician, but also to your confidence to be ready for the stage.
If you are late, you are stressed. Your routines feel rushed and you will feel like you don’t have control over your performance any longer.
My recommendation would be that you are at the venue 30 minutes before your performance. If you arrive with the sound engineer, help him to set up the system. Use it as an opportunity to build bridges and network with the venue management.
Psych yourself up
Everyone has their own way of doing this. Our favourite way as a band was to listen to rough tracks of our new music or jam out to our released albums.
In this way, the vocals are trained in the right keys and we get into the rhythm of our music.
We also watched some videos of previous performances and gave compliments to each other about what we’d done well during these live shows.
Have a pre-performance routine
We are simply creatures of habit. Having a routine brings stability and reinsurance. Yes, a good routine comes from experience and trial and error, but the key here would be to stick to the basics and expand from there.
For me, it was important to know how long before the gig I need to eat and have enough time to welcome guests personally before I went into the warmup phase.
Have moral support in the crowd
Especially during the beginner phase, it is really good to have that friend or mentor in the stage that can build you up afterwards and give you the reinsurance that you might need.
This could also be a mentally supportive person, a family member or a group of friends altogether. We made use of our siblings to make video recordings and give us feedback about our shows afterwards. They were honest, but also empathetic.
Soundcheck like a boss
There’s just so much opportunity in the soundcheck that many musicians are missing.
Firstly, have a decent routine and make sure that all band members get their fair chance to be happy and satisfied.
Our main stumbling stone was usually sorting out feedback when the drummer had backup vocals and a monitor. This really challenged sound engineers and only the best were able to get it sorted out.
If you have challenges like these, try to learn how it gets solved so that you can support and advise inexperienced sound engineers.
The last thing you want is to go off from the soundcheck without a backup vocal.
If you would like to read more about Successful Soundcheck for Bands, don’t miss the post I wrote about it. It might help you with getting the most out of this opportunity to network with venue management and bond with other bands.
Focus on what worked well before
This also means cutting out what didn’t work well before. If you feel that the group has a lucky charm like a mutual friend as support beforehand, it might be useful to organise another backstage pass for a “manager”.
Think about what your crowd might like
Every city is different. While you are on stage, send cheers to the local sports teams or cover a song from famous artists from that region.
Be specific about your crowd and fine-tune your stage presence to fit their needs.
Take care of your well-being
As a band leader, you mostly focus on others and the well-being of everyone else besides yourself.
Make sure that you also get enough rest, food and water. Your needs as a musician are also important and should be respected.
If you feel you need a bit of time for yourself, bring it into your pre-performance routine. Announce 15 minutes of your time, and do what you need to.
Focus on your breathing and calmness
Just to make the clock tick a bit slower, take slow deep breaths before you go on stage. This will just give your brain the oxygen to think clearly.
This should help you to feel confident in knowing that you are ready to deliver the performance of a lifetime.
Don’t focus on potential mistakes, but rather entertain
It’s so easy to let a previous mistake camp in your head. The best to deal with this is to talk about it and try to remember how to fix this.
I once made a mistake during a show where I completely missed the break. The band and the crowd realised this and just decided to finish off the riff and be chilled about it.
We had good laughs about this afterwards, and I made sure not to forget it again. It shouldn’t have an impact on your confidence.
Visualise and playback previous successful performances
One of my favourite ways of getting pumped up was to watch our performances together before we go on stage to deliver an even better one. You immediately cut out mistakes and get an idea of what to focus on.
This is probably a golden tip that I don’t think other musicians use that often. Loving your own band and music is the best confidence booster one can have and share together.
Use it as a weapon because you have a crowd of people waiting for you, believing in you and are excited to experience your magic on stage.
I wrote an article about How to Build Confidence as a Musician, which focuses on building confidence skills in the long-, mid- and short term. If you continue to struggle with self-doubt, you might benefit from looking into it.
Rock and roll brothers and sisters!