I have been fighting with this for sometimes and I am afraid I will have to give up. I don't know exactly what it is but when I play at home, I can perfectly and smoothly play any piece I know from the beginning to end without any major mistakes, providing all required phrasing, articulation, dynamics. I can remember all notes without hesitation.

When only I have to play in front of someone, even people I know who I am 100% certain would not judge me, so would not my teacher, I turn into something like badly prepared student, forgetting notes, playing only with half skills I could normally present etc. yesterday, I couldn't start a piece I know by heart. There were like three attempts and I almost gave up. Eventually, I got through quite well but it scares me that there is something wrong.

As last option, I would like to ask any of you who has similar problem like me. What should I do to manage it and cope with the performance fright? If you have managed to overcome it, what kind of things helped you to beat it? Have you eventually started to enjoy playing in front of friends, colleagues etc.?

This is truly killing me,honestly, I enjoy playing at home but I wish I could some day show how I could improve. And because the fright I feel, it seems something is being taken away from me, all the pleasure I hold when playing the instrument is fading. I even consider meeting with sort of professional to perhaps understand the problem.


  • 2
    You're me, aren't you? Seriously, I can even feel my performance ability drop the second I hit "Record" on the Soundcloud app I use to save sketches. It's like the phone is watching me. I wish I could help more, but I can't wait for the answers myself. Don't be too down, I have recently become better at playing in front of trusted people; first, find someone who you know really appreciates you AS A PERSON (for me, it's my wife) so you KNOW, in your bones they will be non-judgemental. And try to work on from there. Commented May 8, 2015 at 10:46
  • I actually find playing in front of my more musical friends easier; I know they appreciate the work involved. Commented May 8, 2015 at 10:50
  • I have already played a couple of times in front of audience but this is always the same. I could be relaxed 15 mins, 10 mins before performance but somehow at the time I've got to play every feeling like panicking, fright, etc. comes back and take over! I feel it's really bad and I feel a little bit hopeless.
    – Celdor
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 8:30
  • A related question is "why on earth do finger tips need to sweat?" I can see no evolutionary advantage to this and the only time it seems to happen is when I'm about to play in front of an audience. Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 11:28

3 Answers 3


What you have is hardly rare. It's a phenomenon that seems to occur more in some adults than children. Having run an examination centre periodically, I've heard far more grown-ups say "I really don't know why I'm doing this", as nerves kick in. It's probably due to the fact that kids are doing test and exams day in, day out, whereas adults hardly ever do, apart from driving test or interviews.

But that doesn't help you. One remedy is to immerse yourself in performing. The more you do, the easier it gets. It won't feel like it for a long time, but by playing in front of people often, AND making the occasional mistake, but shrugging it off, the syndrome will gradually diminish.

Recording efforts is also stressful, as one wants to produce a good take each time. So try that, but don't beat yourself up when you make mistakes.

If at all possible, try to play with others. It gives confidence, makes you less centre stage, is fun and gives someone else to blame for mistakes !! You will also be concentrating on being part of a team, which means you won't be thinking about any audience so much.

Someone once said, when faced with a viscious boss - imagine them naked. Works well for an audience, too. When you worry about making mistakes, that's what you'll do. So concentrate on your best previous performance not one of your worst.


Record yourself. Once you can create a usable audio recording, make a video, with the intent to put it up on some video platform (be sure to use material that is not under copyright in order to avoid the pesky rightholder corporations barging down your door).

You'll be surprised at the level of focus and self-consciousness and number of retakes it takes to even create a single useful recording.

That will give you a bunch to work on without involving others, thus leaving at least the embarrassment angle of the problem to be tackled later separately.


Being nervous about playing music in front of others is not that uncommon. I really don't think that you should meet with a professional to understand the problem. Unfortunately the solution to this issue is to put yourself in uncomfortable positions where you're forced to play in front of others so that you can overcome the nervousness. Familiarity breeds comfort.

No one is perfect. You will make mistakes, plenty of successful musicians have made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes. Unless your mistake is incredibly jarring or the piece is incredibly well known, a lot of non musical people might not notice small mistakes. Seek to play in front of people and friends that will not sugar coat the truth. Sometimes it is better to receive negative feedback, than to receive insincere positive feedback from friends and family members.

Your question has a tag of piano, so I'm assuming that piano is your main instrument. Piano is a great instrument that can be played at open mics (a keyboard in that case). I suggest finding a couple of open mics and preparing some pieces to play with your musical friends, so that you have an unbiased audience where you can sharpen up your performance skills and get rid of or minimize the nervousness.

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