How to Play Guitar In Front of Others Without Anxiety (in 6 Simple Steps)

Surprised nervous looking man playing a red fender stratocaster guitar learning how to have confidence when playing guitar in front of others

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You’re not alone if you feel like an anxious wreck at the thought of playing guitar around other people. We’ll help you tackle your fears & boost your self-confidence.

You’re here because you feel shy and nervous at the thought of playing guitar in front of other people.

Maybe you’re afraid to practice in earshot of others, fearing they’ll judge you.

Perhaps you have a performance coming up that you’re worried stage fright will ruin? Well, I have news for you…

You’re not alone.

And you don’t just need to be a newbie beginner guitar player for your stomach to churn at the idea of people listening to you playing. Even seasoned guitar players can feel nervous playing in front of others.

You're not alone. Even seasoned guitar players feel nervous playing in front of others sometimes.

The Fear Factor

If you’re a guitar player who gets anxious about playing when people may hear you, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone.

This is a common problem, and it can be very frustrating. However, it’s important not to let your fear of failure stop you from enjoying the instrument.

Overcoming a lack of confidence can be a real struggle for many guitarists. That’s why we’re sharing six valuable pieces of advice to help you conquer anxiety, boost your self-assurance, and beat that nagging self-doubt.

Let’s dive in.

Step 1. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Beginner guitarist girl learning to play the guitar

One of the biggest mistakes that new guitar players make is trying to learn too much too soon. This can lead to frustration and anxiety, and can ultimately discourage you from playing altogether. You may erroneously believe that you’re ‘not cut out’ for guitar.

A better approach is to set realistic goals and focus on learning simple riffs and songs first.

Doing this will help you build a solid foundation in the basics of guitar playing and give you a sense of accomplishment.

Action Steps 👇

Choose one or two simple guitar riffs to start learning such as “Come As You Are,” “7 Nation Army,” or “Satisfaction.”

If you’re stuck for more riff ideas, check out these brilliant easy beginner guitar riffs. When you’ve nailed them, add another one to your To Do list.

Next, decide on one or two easy beginner-friendly songs with simple chords and strumming patterns to learn.

Make a commitment to learn the pieces from start to finish. Nobody wants to be that guy or gal who, ten years down the line, still doesn’t know how to play a song all the way through.

Always concentrate on developing good technique and practice smart. Confidence comes with competence, after all.

The more you practice the riffs and songs, the better they’ll sound. If you hear someone hanging about outside your practice room, turn the amp up instead of down!

2. Practice VS Playing

If you share a house, dorm, flat or whatever with other people who’ve never picked up an instrument in their life, they might be clueless about what it really takes to learn an instrument.

Many people don’t realise that it takes time and practice to learn how to play a musical instrument. There is no magic bullet to make you a master musician overnight. The only way to improve is to practice regularly.

And when it comes to practice, repetition is key. The more you repeat a piece of music, the better you will become at playing it.

So don’t be afraid to practice the same riff or song over and over again. It may get boring at times, but it will be worth it in the end.

When you’re practising guitar, it’s not always meant to sound pretty.

You’re meant to be working on developing technique, strength and control. Practice is about developing your ear, playing that intro over and over to smooth out the kinks, learning theory, working out chords in songs etc.

Action Steps 👇

Briefly enlighten people earwigging on you practicing the difference between playing songs and practice.

Ask them this: could a 90-pound overweight guy run a marathon with only a few weeks of training?


He’d have to build up to it with months of hard work. Learning to play the guitar is the same. Make mastering the guitar your primary focus and steer away from aimless playing.

To be able to play songs, you have to learn how to play the guitar first.

3. Plug-in

Marshall Headphones Play Guitar Plugged In

If you’re a beginner guitarist, you may be strumming and picking too quietly. This is a common mistake, and it’s often because people are worried about what other people will think if they hear them practice.

However, it’s crucial to remember that everyone has to start somewhere.

Playing quietly so others can’t hear you isn’t a good idea for your technique or sound.

You need to play loud and proud – as long as you’re not waking up or bothering the neighbours!

Action Steps 👇

If you have a guitar with a pickup (an electro-acoustic or electric guitar) you can plug it in and play without disturbing others.

All you’ll need is some headphones and a small home practice amp. Now, you can practice away without worrying you’re being judged.

Pro Tip

Practice doesn't always mean making noise. Take 20 minutes a few times a week to delve into some basic music theory instead. It's like giving yourself a backstage pass to the inner workings of music. Click below to snag my book and wave goodbye to frustration and expand your musical horizons.👇

4. Don’t Assume the Worse

A band playing songs on a gibson les paul and stratocaster guitar

Whenever my students seek guidance on overcoming their fear of being judged while playing, I always offer this piece of advice: Don’t automatically think the worst.

Yes, those annoying individuals might ask, “How many songs can you play?” after just a week of learning the guitar, or those who make sarcastic comments because they’re dealing with their insecurities.

But most people understand that learning a new skill takes time and commitment.

It’s too easy to focus on what you can’t do, instead of what you can do.

Action Steps 👇

Quit being tough on yourself. Don’t spend time assuming you sound terrible.

You might be surprised to learn that if someone overhears your practice, they’re likely either thinking about how much you’ve improved, secretly wishing they could do what you’re doing, or too wrapped up in their own thoughts even to notice!

Even if you’ve only been playing for a few weeks, you’ll already be sounding a million miles better than you did when you started.

5. Upgrade Your Skills

Being a guitar tutor means I do more than teach students what to learn. I’m here to cheer them on, keep them motivated, and inspire them.

With that in mind, this step is all about finding a guitar teacher or mentor to guide you.

Action Steps 👇

When you start your search, spend some time doing research. Look for a great guitar teacher who can provide advice and support as you learn.

If possible, find a teacher who comes recommended by someone you trust. Personal recommendations matter because, sadly, not all guitar teachers are equally good.

Having lessons will build your confidence to play in front of other people as you’ll get used to playing in front of your teacher every week.

You’ll also improve your playing skills much quicker with lessons than you will struggle alone.

Remember, confidence comes with competence.

6. Don’t Care

Funny older guy playing an electric guitar

This is the most important bit of advice anyone can give you to help you beat your fear of playing in front of other people – don’t give a stuff what anyone else thinks.

To overcome your fear of what others think of you, use the Kaizen ethos (continuous gradual improvement) summed up in this quote:

Never be so afraid of making mistakes that you stop taking actions. - Kirtida Gautam

I know from personal experience this is easier said than done (believe it or not, when I started playing, I was very shy and scared to death of playing in front of anyone).

Work on building your confidence with baby steps, as is the Kaizen way.

You’re learning a very intricate new skill; anybody who’s ever achieved anything in life knows success doesn’t happen overnight. As long as you’re playing isn’t interrupting anyone, who cares what they think?

If you’re friends poke fun at you or criticise you, this is merely a mask to hide their own deep-rooted insecurities and jealousy.

And ask yourself, are they really true friends if they’re bringing such a negative vibe?

You know the answer.

Action Steps 👇

Work on boosting your confidence and getting to know yourself better. Remember, you’re someone with the guts to do something that many others wish they could do but don’t because of laziness or fear.

Consider seeking out fellow musicians to jam with. It’s a fantastic way to get comfortable with others hearing your music and a valuable opportunity to improve your listening and improvisation skills.

Top 5 Recommended Motivational Books

Reading motivational books on building your confidence and the power of self-belief is a great move to help you build your overall self-esteem. Here are some of the top recommended books to help you.

#1. Change Your Paradigm, Change Your Life – buy on Amazon

#2. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time Life – buy on Amazon

#3. Your Erroneous Zones: Step-by-Step Advice for Escaping the Trap of Negative Thinking and Taking Control of Your Life – buy on Amazon

#4. Secrets of Performing Confidence – For Musicians, Singers – buy on Amazon

#5. Own the Day, Own Your Life – buy on Amazon

Summing it up

You don’t need to be plagued by feelings of low self-esteem and shyness all your life. It’s in your hands to make the decision now that enough is enough!

Tell yourself: From today, I’m going to work on not letting other people’s opinions bother me. I am at peace, and don’t need approval.

Always keep in mind that everyone else is so wound up in their own headspace, that they don’t really care what you’re doing.

You’re fulfilling a lifelong dream of learning to play guitar. You rock. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Overcome challenges and amplify your musical skills

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