Music, Arts & Entertainment

Live Shows: Philosophy and Nerves

Tom Morello

Lesson time 09:59 min

Learn how to find your own authentic voice as a performer and combat the nerves that might be keeping you from growing as an artist.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Find Your Authentic Self on Stage • Try Different Personas • Realize That Everyone Gets Nervous • Playing Alone: Reveal Your Soul • Respect Your Audience and Yourself


Probably the number one best way to practice and to improve your playing is by playing live with live bullets firing. The things that happen in a live environment cannot be duplicated in a rehearsal, can not be duplicated when you're playing by yourself. [CHEERS AND APPLAUSE] I was playing a gig with my high school band, The Electric Sheep, at what was our biggest show to date. It was a musical variety show in front of 800 people, friends and family and fellow students at the theater. And we were playing the song "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf. And we were not a very talented band, but we were a loud band, and we were super nervous band. So they rolled us out in the middle of a lot-- there were some folk singers and people telling jokes and whatnot. We at least looked like a rock and roll band, and a huge roar went up. They didn't know that we weren't that good. So this huge roar went up, and that was encouraging. Then we began playing. And the bass player was playing some of the wrong notes. The keyboard player was in the entirely wrong key of the song. So I wouldn't say that it started out great. We were on this little platform. They rolled us out. And I was probably about this high off the ground. So when the first chorus kicked in, I jumped off the platform, and the place went absolutely apeshit. I didn't even know-- I thought maybe something happened behind me. I thought Nelson Mandela had entered the room or something. The roof came off the place. And it was like-- it's 'cause I jumped off the riser. So rock and roll might be more than keyboards being in tune. Rock and roll might be about jumping off the riser and rocking fools. And of course, I practiced my thousands of hours. But I never forgot that lesson-- that rock and roll is about more than getting the notes right. Rock and roll is a visceral experience and a connection with the audience that should be exciting at its core. I hold in the highest regard artists that play with authenticity. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that they're the artists that are most compelling. That doesn't actually mean that I-- in tune, I was a huge fan of Kiss growing up. And Gene Simmons was one my favorites. He breathed fire, and his lascivious tongue was lapping at the photographers in the front row. And I instinctively knew that that's what that guy is about. That's not an act. That guys wants to breathe fire and lick the front row. Counter-examples are Slash or Keith Richards, who merely by standing there with a certain cocked leg set, are just effusive of cool from just the way that they are. Then there is nerdy Deevo, or shoegazing band, or Oasis. They just come across as very much-- I believe everything they're doing, and they're not doing anything. And that, to me, is what's really compelling in performance. So it's all right if, in your journey, you try on a bunch of different hats. But hopefully, you'll eventually set on something that feels very, very true to yours...

About the Instructor

Tom Morello is a two-time Grammy winner and one of Rolling Stone’s "greatest guitarists of all time." In his first online guitar class, the co-founder of Rage Against the Machine will teach you the riffs, rhythms, and solos that launched his career and sent his music to the top of the charts. Tom will share his approach to making music that challenges the status quo and teach you how to create your own musical style.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Tom Morello

In 26 lessons, Grammy-winning musician Tom Morello will teach you the guitar techniques, rhythms, and riffs that define his signature style.

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