Do you get nervous playing guitar?

Do you get nervous playing guitar?

How can you be sure you’ll play well… under pressure?

Have you ever performed a song for friends only to get so nervous that you couldn’t even remember the chords?  Lol  Of course you have, it’s happened to all of us.  It’s easy to get nervous playing guitar when we’re unprepared.  Channeled properly this nervous energy can actually lead to a stellar performance.

Last week we talked about the potential problems you can run into when unprepared for a big opportunity that comes your way.  So what can you do to ensure consistency in your playing, regardless of the time or situation?

Well, let’s first look at a problem that every guitarist has run into at one point or another:

You practice something rigorously and, one day, you’re able to play it perfectly.  You get excited because you think “now I have it!”  But then, the next day you go to play it again, and now you can’t pull it off at the same speed or with the same level of fluidity or articulation.

This problem is especially bad when you put in other factors such as playing in front of an audience.  When you’re able to concentrate perfectly, you can play perfectly; however, if there’s any distractions, you make tons of mistakes…

So, you’ve got that big show coming up… what can you do to ensure you don’t mess it up?

I’ve put together three basic rules that you can adopt in order to guard against this problem at those key moments:

  1. Anything you learn that is at the absolute limit of your playing ability is NOT performance-ready.
  2. Don’t stop practicing the speed of something simply by achieving the minimum BPM required.  To be performance ready, always be able to perfectly play a song at 115% BPM or higher.
  3. If you can’t play something perfectly with your eyes closed, you better be able to play it perfectly while moving around.

Seems pretty simple right?  Let me break it down.

When you learn something that pushes the envelope of your abilities, any little variable can negatively impact your ability to play it.  The reason for this is that we have good days, medium days and bad days.

Some days your fingers will feel more stiff than others, some days you’ll be able to concentrate better than others, etc.  If you want to say that you’ve perfected something, you basically need to be able to play it perfectly…  that is, while you’re afraid you’re going to get fired from your job AND you’re coming down with the flu.

Brutal, I know.  But that’s the truth.  

Otherwise you might run into a very unfortunate circumstance like in the story I told last week.

The end result should be that, on your worst days, you can easily play everything you need to perfectly and, on your best days, you can play everything you want to better than you need to.

Dan Mumm is a Metal Method instructor and shred master.  Check out Dan’s lessons here.