Of course you have… almost everyone has! But it doesn't have to be this way. When you learn to practice guitar and prepare for live guitar playing the way the pros do, you will have a lot more fun every time you play guitar live for other people.
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- Knowing how to practice guitar to make your playing totally dependable, accurate and consistent in any situation. (To learn how to practice for this, download this free eBook about doubling your guitar speed.)
- Avoiding the common mistakes guitarists make when preparing to play guitar live that sabotage your performance.
Here are 4 of the most common mistakes to avoid when you play guitar live and how to prevent each one:
How To Play Guitar Live - Mistake #1: Focusing On The Wrong Things
Most guitarists allow negative thoughts to control their mind, causing them to make more mistakes. Here is the secret most people don’t know: your mind cannot tell the difference between the things you want to happen and the things you don’t want to happen.
Your mind only moves towards the things you consciously focus on. So when you think how embarrassing it would be to forget your musical parts when you play guitar live, your mind causes your body to tense up and actually make more mistakes. What you focus on becomes your reality.
Solution: To perform better when you play guitar live, visualize yourself performing at your very BEST in the days leading up to the performance. See yourself playing perfectly, without mistakes and enjoying every moment of it. When you do this consistently, your anxiety will be replaced by confidence and excitement.
Note: Of course this positive visualization is NOT a replacement for learning to practice guitar correctly for live performance. That said, it absolutely will give you a strong advantage when it comes time to play guitar live in front of people.
How To Play Guitar Live - Mistake #2: Not Managing Tension
Excessive tension makes it hard to play guitar well and makes it almost impossible to consistently play guitar live without mistakes. It usually develops (on a subconscious level) in 2 ways:
- By focusing your mind on all the things you don't want to happen when you play guitar live (causing you to tense up in fear).
- By ingraining bad habits as you practice guitar (without realizing it).
Until/unless you learn to release this extra tension, when you play guitar live it will continue to be stressful and challenging both physically and mentally.
Solution: Releasing extra tension when you play guitar live should be done in 2 ways:
- Practice guitar in specific ways to train your hands to play guitar without excessive tension. This eBook on how to double your guitar speed will help you do this.
- By developing a mental ritual to follow before you play guitar live to release anxiety and tension from your body. (Note: this is different from releasing tension as you practice guitar generally.) One great way to do this is to remind yourself of the reason(s) why you are about to play in front of people. You are do not play guitar live to “be perfect”. You do it because you love music and are excited to share your love with others. This shift in mindset helps you be at ease when performing.
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How To Play Guitar Live - Mistake #3: Not Rehearsing The Actual Show
If you play guitar live professionally (on a stage and/or in a band with other musicians), you must do a lot more than simply practice guitar for your individual parts. You (and/or your entire band) must rehearse the logistical process of the stage show. Not doing this causes many mistakes and frustrations as you play guitar live.
Solution: Invest part of your time when you practice guitar into the “performance” aspect when you play guitar live. Here is a partial list of the most important things to think about/rehearse:
- When and how you will change amp settings.
- When and how you will change your pedal settings or midi controller.
- When and how you will tune your guitar OFFSTAGE (whenever possible).
- Memorizing the spots on the stage where each band member stands during each moment of every song.
- Understanding where your performance position needs to be at every important point during the show.
- Your stage presence during the show.
- What every member of your band does in between songs.
- Engagement with the audience.
- Communication between band members on stage.
The more detailed you can be, the better.
Practice guitar by making a list of your needs, then rehearse the actual show to develop rock solid skills when you play guitar live.
How To Play Guitar Live - Mistake #4: You Don't Practice Guitar For “Mistake Management”
No matter how well you play guitar live, realize that some mistakes will always happen during a show. Nobody can ever play guitar 100% perfectly 100% of the time (especially when you play guitar live). What you can do is anticipate how you will react to mistakes. If you don’t prepare for this in advance, any little mistake can make you lose focus, leading to even more mistakes.
Solution: Analyze the music you will be performing and do the following steps:
1. Identify the hardest part(s) in the music.
2. Identify the specific mistakes that can occur during those parts.
3a. Practice guitar in the best way you can to ensure that these mistakes do not happen.
3b. Plan/rehearse in detail what you will do to continue playing with minimum distractions if a mistake does occur. Dealing with the mistake mentally before it happens will ensure that it doesn't interfere with the rest of the performance and will make it a whole lot less likely that anybody except for you will notice it.
When you practice guitar with a “fail-safe” strategy for playing through mistakes, you will greatly remove any anxiety when you play guitar live and enjoy the performance more.
Now that you know the most common mistakes guitarists make when practice guitar to play in front of others, apply the advice for solving each one to develop your skills when you play guitar live.
To learn even more about how to play guitar live reliably, check out this free eBook on how to double your guitar speed.