Guitarist Kaki King and the Reader of the Month join Premier Guitar editors in sharing personal tips to combat stage fright.

Break a Leg!

You’ve rehearsed for weeks, and it’s finally showtime. You hit the stage and suddenly … “Whoa, they’re all staring at me.” You’ve got cold feet, and not just because you forgot to wear your lucky sucks. Guitarist Kaki King and the Reader of the Month join Premier Guitar editors in sharing personal tips to combat stage fright.


Kaki King -- Guest Picker
What are you listening to?
Among the Leaves by Sun Kil Moon. The best thing to happen to Mark Kozelek in the last 10 years was his switch to and mastery of nylon string guitar.
What is your advice for dealing with performance anxiety?
Your nervous system is firing off the wrong things at the wrong time and breath control can really help calm you down. Try taking 10 really full deep breaths. That's my go-to when I get any butterflies.  


Josh Drane -- Reader of the Month
What are you listening to?
Dixie Tradition’s The Way I Am.
What is your advice for dealing with performance anxiety?
Some will tell you that the trick is not to care—wrong. The trick is to know that messing up is a part of music. Even pros screw up. Also, proper warm ups can reduce tension and help blood flow. Last, but not least, remember why you're there: to do what you love, not to make money or get famous.


Staff-Picks-Guthrie-Trapp

John Bohlinger -- Nashville Correspondent
What are you listening to?
I’ve been listening to my Waylon Jennings box set. It’s just a phase I’m going through … an MXR Phase 90 that is.
What is your advice for dealing with performance anxiety?
A bit of performance anxiety helps you focus and stay sharp, but if it gets overwhelming and I feel myself freaking out, I ruminate on the immortal words of Miles Davis who said, “Don’t fear mistakes, there are none.” How liberating.


Tessa Jeffers -- Managing Editor
What are you listening to?
Eminem’s new Marshall Mathers sequel. Slim Shady is one of my favorite storytellers, and he’s as present, biting, and in yo’ face as ever.
What is your advice for dealing with performance anxiety?
Nervous adrenaline isn’t something I can control, but eventually I learned it’s going to happen and how I deal with it is the matter. Now I don’t let it stop me from performing or doing other things that scare me. I just go and it gets better.


Rich Osweiler -- Associate Editor
What are you listening to?
Throwing Muses’ Purgatory/Paradise. It’s the band’s first new release in 10 years, but frontwoman Kristen Hersh shows she hasn’t lost lick of fire throughout the, yes, 32 tracks.
What is your advice for dealing with performance anxiety?
There’s certainly a case to be made about over preparing, but any anxiety-fueled freak-outs I have are usually due to not feeling ready to go. Hit that woodshed. That said, what’s really to worry about when you’re doing something fun?


Jason Shadrick -- Associate Editor
What are you listening to?
The Black Widows, Revenge of the Black Widows. Even after a casual listen you know exactly what the Widows are rebelling against: things that don't rock. Plus, any band with a mantra of “All Instrumental. All Original. All Evil.” gets my vote.
What is your advice for dealing with performance anxiety?
It might be a cliché, but just relax and have fun. But not too much—a bit of nervous edge keeps you on your toes.

Photo by cottonbro

Intermediate

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Submit your own artist pick collections to rebecca@premierguitar.com for inclusion in a future gallery.

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