The Stage Presence of a Guitarist

May 5th, 2010

Did you know an artist will make 95% of his or her revenue on stage?

The importance of a fantastic stage presence is vital to say the least. Yet, according to Alex Boye of Expert Village, the “talent” is often overlooked.

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Before we get too detailed, one may ask, ‘What really is your stage presence?’

Good question.

One source defines your stage presence as “a performance skill—a quality defined by a performer’s ability to command the audience’s attention through projection, focus, attention, expression, confidence, and so on.”

Note the emphasis on “command.” A great entertainer will command the audience’s attention and thus win over their hearts. Consequently, the goal of this article is to learn how to command the audience. You do that and you’ll be fine.

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Confidence. As Alex Boye said it, is extremely important. If you have it, you can “get away with a multitude of sins.” If you lack it, you’ll be lucky to survive before getting booed off stage.

Now, this may sound really easy but anyone who has been on stage before will beg to differ. When you are in the spotlight, in front of hundreds (if not thousands) of fans, your legs will begin to shake and your heart will feel like it’s about to pound out of your chest. This is common. It’s natural.

Everyone has nerves before they take the stage. Some may be more “natural” at having a great stage presence but nobody is perfect. Some of the world’s greatest performers will even tell you that a few butterflies before a show is a good thing. So do not run away from your nerves but embrace them.

My college speech teacher told me that you may “feel like crap” when you’re performing in front of others, but how you feel rarely translates to how you actually look. That is why so many speech classes in high school or college will tape the speech. It’s highly likely that the student will feel like they did a horrible job, but once they see the performance, they will agree that it actually was not as bad it may have initially appeared.">" alt="YouTube Preview Image" />

Stage presence is actually an acquired skill that will improve with practice. Unfortunately, not everyone in the world has access to the city’s venue each week with thousands of fans. Thus, one must practice alone in front of such bizarre “audiences” as a mirror. You may look silly, but you can learn a lot by practicing in front of a mirror.

If you are a guitarist, it’s highly likely that you perform with a band. Sharing the stage with others may take some of the individual pressure off of yourself. However, the guitarist and singer (or singer/guitarist) are two of the most important positions in a band. Fans really dig the singer and they really dig the guitarist. Consequently, you must find an individualistic stage presence while matching with that of the band.

You need to command the audience, elude confidence, and without a doubt play good music – but one thing you no not want to do is act like a phony. You can spot a phony from a mile away. They try to “over do it.” Some may say, on the other hand, that a great stage presence is 100% natural and derives from playing music that you love and are passionate about. So just be natural. It makes for a great debate.

I believe it’s somewhere in between. A great live band has a stage presence that is both natural and well rehearsed. They know when to “stick to the script” and when to improvise.

Aspiring guitarists and bands can learn a lot from some of the greatest live bands of all-time. recently put together a top ten list and the number one spot belonged to Queen. As the web site accurately put it:

“Simply one of the greatest performers of all time, Freddie Mercury’s passion and theatrics could not be matched when he was up on stage. Singing himself beet-red in the face and acting out every lyric as if his life depended on it, seeing Mercury perform was a revelation.”

YouTube Preview Image begged to differ and placed U2 at the number one spot. Regardless, you can learn several tricks from many of the artists on these lists.

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One Response to “The Stage Presence of a Guitarist”

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