Most people experience some level of nerves / fear playing in front of people and quite a few people experience this to a high degree. Depending on the level of fear that you feel and how much you wish to reduce its impact, there could be some benefits in getting help from a hypnotist / psychotherapist etc....
It's important to know that your feelings are a natural reaction to facing a situation that you are apprehensive about. It's just that the intensity of the feelings is at at level that is unhelpful and so there are a number of things you can try to reduce the intensity to a level that won't stop you playing in front of people.
Summary of Top Tips
Try to play in front of people at every opportunity to de-sensitise yourself - generally, the more you do it, the less 'scary' it becomes
Focus on the positive ie the chance to give enjoyment to others, instead of negatives about what may go wrong
keep telling yourself to keep things in perspective eg no one will shoot you if you play a wrong note
Harness the nerves to help you, by choosing to view them as 'excitement' rather than 'fear'
Never stop playing part way through
If you get lost - go back to a section you know
Don’t show mistakes in your body language
If you play a wrong note - play it twice more, like you meant to do it!
How to Build Confidence
Desensitise yourself to fear of playing in front of others by taking opportunities to 'face your fear and do it anyway'. You can build this up in stages, over a period of time eg:-
- Play for yourself
- Play for 1 person
- Play to family and friends
- Play to strangers
Also doing breathing exercises can help to lower your heart rate and make you feel more relaxed.
An example is to take deep breaths in your nose and then breathe out your mouth for twice as long as you breathed in. Eg 3 seconds per breath in and 6 seconds per breath out - or 5 seconds per breath in and 10 seconds per breath out