One of our members wrote this week to share his all-too-familiar Sunday screw up story. After nailing a song in rehearsal, the moment came in the service for him to launch into the intro and he crashed...hard. What happened? He knew the song and rehearsed it well, but his nerves still go the best of him. How do you get beyond the butterflies?
Been There. Done That.
I’ve dealt with this all my life. My hands tend to shake with even just the smallest bit of adrenaline. Even when I’m not nervous it can be an issue. I spill coffee all the time. I struggle to balance a golf ball on a tee. The shakes used to restrict how I could build set lists because I’d have to save the more challenging songs for the end when I knew my hands would calm down. I don’t need to do that anymore. Here are three ways to keep your nerves in check.
Visualization is surprisingly powerful. Before you ever plug in, take a moment and visualize yourself playing on stage. What does it look like when you are relaxed and confident? How do your fingers flow on the neck? How great does it sound when you nail the part? Now go out on stage and do that! Be the player you pictured in your head. That’s what you are capable of so trust yourself to be that.
You don’t stare at an obstacle you’re avoiding on the highway. You focus on the route around it. If your inner monologue is negative (don’t mess up, don’t start on the 9th fret, don’t forget to turn on your delay) you will almost certainly do exactly that. Focus on what you are going to do rather than what you are not going to do. It will keep your head in the right place.
Play Within Your Ability
If you are just barely able to get the riff in your bedroom, you are almost definitely going to miss it when you are on stage. That could mean practicing more or simplifying the part to make it easier for you. The stage is not the place to stretch your skills.
Even after all that, there is still the chance you’ll get nervous and mess up. Mistakes happen, but you have a Father in heaven who loves you unconditionally and a church community who is rooting for you. Laugh it off and try it again next time. You'll get there.