"Afraid" of playing (wrong)

Okay this may sound weird but it crosses my mind every now and then.
Sometimes when I go through the course or when I just pluck some notes, I am afraid of someone hearing me play and maybe even worse, hearing me make mistakes. I also noticed that I can only practice alone. When my SO is around I am always a little bit reserved and I am holding back because you know, she could hear the wrong note or the strings buzzing…

I tried to force myself since I know it’s stupid and everyone knows I have just begun to learn an instrument, but my brain keeps thinking “no, don’t let them hear your mistakes!”

Anyone else know this feeling and got any tips to fight it?


@StefanK. You might try recording an audio of yourself playIng and then have your SO listen to the recording. Do this a couple times. The next step would be to record yourself with both audio and video and share that on a couple songs or so . I’m sure you can figure out what the next step would be… Just an idea… Good Luck!!

Keep on Thumpin’!


You could also simply not fight it until you are a bit more confident :slight_smile:

Headphones are great for silent practice too.


I certainly cringe if I hit a wrong note or 10 but I also stuff it up that badly I actually have a giggle about it ! I’m actually finding the second option and giving myself the “ now try it slowe” really works good


Realizing and embracing that it’s the natural process of being a musician. It’s not a performance; it’s practice. Everyone has their skill level and even people with skill levels above yours are working at their edge, making mistakes, breaking things down, chunking stuff up, trying again.

The feedback I get from the SO and the neighbors is “I love hearing you play” while I’m playing just awful.


I guess I’m lucky to have a deaf spouse and a dog who doesn’t give a sh*t


Its all in your head. In my opinion you have to do you. Everyone makes mistakes. and everyone moves on. My personal philosophy is if someone doesn’t like something I’m doing they are welcome to tell me so. and i am welcome to let them know what I think of their opinion.

If you live your life trying to be perfect at everything you do it will wear you down quick. but if you live it trying to impress or make everyone happy, it will straight up kill you. you have to do what you like for yourself before you can do anything to impress someone ells. its just a confidence thing.

so just let go of that stress, breath deep and work on building yourself up. That’s my recommendation on it anyway :+1: :+1:


a) I think everyone knows this feeling
b) Do you know the saying “The master has failed more times than the novice even tried”? As long as you recognize them as such mistakes are a way to improve.


Agreed. The ability to not give a shit is an important skill in life, and helps a lot with anxieties. Wish I had learned it sooner.


Such a great topic!

+1 here. I remember trying to practice upright bass when I was living at home in college. TERRIBLE feeling. A giant, horrible, screeching, dying cow with no volume control.

I HIGHLY recommend finding a time where you can be assured that there is no one around. Or find a room with a door to close and put on headphones. Having a private place and time to practice is valuable, and if you can make it happen, do it!

I don’t think this is about trying to be perfect.
There is a self-consciousness that develops anytime other people are around. Suggesting to turn this off is not helpful or feasible. Having fearless, concentrated practice time needs the security of not being listened to / interrupted / studied while you’re making mistakes. I am a huge believer that folks need to get out and play and push themselves with music and performance in ways that may not be comfortable… but I also think that isolated practice space is different than fear-of-performance/perfectionist space.


I definitely had the same feeling for a long time, but because people could always hear me practice to some extent I realized something.

Your audience is basically two kinds of people. Non-musicians and musicians.

Non-musicians think music is like magic and are super impressed by anyone who can put at least two notes together. They will almost always be supportive.

Musicians have all gone through the stage that you’re in, so they have nothing but empathy because they know that the beginner phase is probably the hardest part. They will also be supportive.


This is exactly my feeling. It’s not about being able to shrug off others opinions or thoughts, but being private helps me improve better, I feel.

If I am alone I am also not afraid of just trying some stupid (?) things with my bass even tho I have no musical knowledge yet. I just do it - and sometimes it sounds good playing that one line on one string :slight_smile:


Truth. Hopefully your able to cope and find the sence of security you need to absorb what knowledge you can and have fun doing it.

We all have things that help us or hinder us. But that’s part of what makes us unique in our approaches.


Yes to this!!
The trick in any endeavor is keeping this fearless, exploring approach! No matter where you are in your playing, doing this is the best best best way to stay in love with the bass and find the sounds that are truly your music.

Having a space and headspace to do this is 99% of the challenge of life and relationships and the world. Never stop!


Yeah, I feel this way every time I start one of the courses. My hands are not in good shape and mess up a lot. It sucks, it makes me retreat mentally and then I realize almost a month has gone by and I haven’t done 30 days of lessons.

Then there’s time where pain keeps me from doing anything and I think, why did I even bother?

Then family says it sounded good.

Then I think of what CAN be and not about what can’t.

I learned web design with mild color blindness.
I learned how to walk with a really messed up lower body when I was a child.
You can bet anyone’s ass I will learn this Bass.

Keep at it.


As Miles Davis used to say : “Never mind wrong notes, they don’t exist”. Time is the essence. As regards string buzzes, Josh features “THE” exercise : hot on the one and on the fret


Archi, I’m sure you’re doing good and your family confirme. Hell with the rest. Did you try this breathing exercise by Wim Hof ? Please let me know. Christian

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As everyone else here is saying this feeling is totally normal and nothing to be ashamed of. I think it’s actually one of the bigger reasons I didn’t try to learn an instrument earlier - which I totally regret now, but at least we’re doing it now!

I started off playing only with headphones plugged into my amp and the BassBuzz course on my laptop (open-back headphones are really helpful here). Over time as regularly practising feels more the norm, I’ll tune my bass then carry on playing around a little bit before plugging my headphones in, you’ll realise that people in the house either don’t mind at all, or if it’s bothering them enough they’ll have to say something!

Whether it’s a self confidence thing or just worrying that you’ll annoy someone, I’d say you could just ease into it. Start with low volume (not so low that you can’t hear your tone well though!) and each practise just make a little more noise, play a little bit longer without headphones. I totally get that even if someone was say “I don’t mind” you might still think “But what if they do?!” - A little more over time and you’ll realise that it’s all fine, and you’ll feel so much happier when you can express yourself more without concerns like these sticking in your mind. I really hope the replies on this thread help you :slight_smile:


Real simple answer YEA EVERYBODY lol


I use cans so nobody hears my mistakes. Plus I have a light over my music room door, similar to the “On Air” lights at radio studios…mine however says " Unless the house is on fire, GO AWAY"…When I take a break from playing I try to remember to turn off the light…but I never forget to check it being on before I play…Nothing sucks worse than to be on a good run and have someone come in and ask you to fix a toilet…there never seems to be a rhythm guitar player when you need one :slight_smile: