How to Make Any Musical Performance Horribly Awkward

perf anxiety by sashaw

photo by sashaw

“Uh, so this is my song. It’s kinda boring I guess, and I don’t really know what it’s about. The chorus is just kind of thrown in there and the whole thing is just stupid. I think my guitar’s out of tune, and I’ve had a cold so I’m not singing too well tonight…”

Nobody hears the above and thinks Oh boy, sounds like my kind of performer!

I don’t know how many times I’ve watched somebody mumble that string of excuses into a microphone at an open mic. Every once in a while, I still catch myself doing it. Here’s the lesson I’ve (mostly) succeeded in teaching myself about that:

Don’t Try to Warm any Audience Up with Excuses.

It immediately marks you as an amateur. It signals that you’re out looking for an audience that’ll say “No, no, you’re great! We love you and yes, you really are good at this and should continue and you’ll be big-time in, like, ten minutes if you keep it up.”

That’s natural enough. Everybody needs affirmation and support. And though we try to be cool and philosophical about bombing, most of us are affected when a song falls flat on the floor in front of an audience.

Warming up with excuses and apologies is defensive and self-protective behavior. But rattling on about how bad your performance is going to be will actually make you more nervous and doubting, and leave you in a terrible mental state for handling any actual challenges or mistakes that might arise while you’re onstage.

The core problem: You’ve already decided that you’re going to fail, so you’re preparing yourself and diverting your energy into escaping with lesser injuries.

Try this Instead

Smile, say hello, tell everyone your name, and tell them the name of the song. Take a deep breath and begin.

Don’t tell me I’m going to hate your music. I’d prefer to hear it for myself.  FAVICON

Related Articles

Join 2,087 Songwriting Subscribers

If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing! You'll get new songwriting tips, techniques, and ideas via email.