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Thread: stage fright

  1. #1
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    stage fright

    I play at an open mike night, and every time i getup to lay my hands shake uncontrollably and i get relly nervous etc. I never play anywhere near as well on stage as I do at home. What can I do to get over this, other than playing lots more publically? How have other people got over it? Also, where can I get some information on singing? I have a very powerful voice, but I have difficulty ballancing between really quiet and really loud . I guess there is more to singing than just being able to project your voice. Should I just practise the tunes heaps so there is hardly any way I can **** them up? Does practising with a metronome help solo performence, or is only important for band playing?

    Cheers
    Gareth

  2. #2
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    Hi there Gareth,

    and welcome @ ibreathe.
    About your stage-fright: I think that some "symptoms" you can´t get rid of... that adrenaline rush is something that even people who´ve been gigging for 30 years still get. And it actually is a cool thing, some kind of excitement which adds to the whole event. I remember someone saying "If I ever lose that excitement that I get before I hit the stage, I´ll just quit".

    But it shouldn´t be as bad as you describe it. To get rid of those extreme effects, there are several things you can do. Of course, as you mentioned, it helps to play out as much as possible to feel kinda comfy on stage.
    One thing that helped me was to change my whole attitude.
    There were times when I was so excited and nervous, it wasn´t even funny. Not enjoyable at all. So I was actually kinda glad when the whole show as over... which I thought was not cool, because after all, performing is what it´s about, isn´t it ?
    Well, I really thought about it, and I was like "OK, I am as prepared as I possibly can, I worked on my playing for so long, now let´s get out there and enjoy it. There´s nothing I have to worry about". Basically, I talked myself into being self-confident.
    This sounds as if it was quite easy, but it took quite some time.
    And it worked. I went up there and was like "Man, I sat there for years working on my chops, on my playing. It´s time to get up here and use it. And I don´t have to be afraid"
    It was a bit like closing your eyes, trusting and letting yourself fall.
    And that worked.
    Of course, the best method is to do it over and over again to get really used to it.

    Hope this helps
    Warm regards
    Eric

    NP: Planet X- MoonBabies

  3. #3
    i Breathe ... Admin Guni's Avatar
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    I agree with everything Eric says. Best is to talk yourself into being selfconfident. This may take some time & practice ....

    Personally, I always think about the audience. Why are they here? They wanna have fun - wanna party. They don't really care about your playing or if there's a mistake. More important is the vibe you bring accross .... have fun and party yourself

    Sure, there are always those other musicians that watch you in a suspicious way, looking at you as if you are a complete fool. But, these guys will never enjoy a gig anyway and they also will never buy your music .... so, ignore 'em

    Guni
    Please don't email or send me private messages with music related questions as they will be ignored. Rather use the forums for this and I will try my best to take part as much as I can.

  4. #4
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Guni

    Sure, there are always those other musicians that watch you in a suspicious way, looking at you as if you are a complete fool. But, these guys will never enjoy a gig anyway and they also will never buy your music .... so, ignore 'em
    Guni of course is referring to what I call the "musicians police" here... I wrote about them in the forums before.
    Don´t midn them. And if they make comments while you´re up on stage... walk over to them and ask them where they are gonna play their show that night. Because usually, they don´t have any gigs. That should shut them up
    Eric

  5. #5
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    I can’t say I ever played a gig where I wasn’t nervous to some degree, though I’d attribute more to a state of anxiety. I just couldn’t wait to plug in and play and know everything was going to work (equipment wise, for me and the band). A lot has to do with, in my case, with being the business man (booking gigs/promo etc.) musician sitter (making sure everyone knows where there suppose to be and when), so once everyone was in place and everything semi-tested (a lot of places frown on full blown sound checks) some of the anxiety was alleviated. Once you kick into the first couple tunes and know your fingers are working (being musician/roadie is hard to always get properly warmed up and a lot of bars must have something against hot running water not to mention heat in general during the cold months) the good side of the anxiety can take over (the almighty adrenaline factor). That goods sides always gonna be there, or I should say: Should always be there or You really got no business standing up there in the first place. I Know that’s a harsh statement but if you don’t care enough about what your doing to be a bit nervous/anxious then no one else is gonna care either. And this is what most people see “The Passion”. If you got passion your halfway there. I don’t care if you got chops. I don’t care if you’re the most tastefull guy on the planet. You got no passion, I don’t wanna watch it. Ironically enough it’s rather hard to develop good chops and taste without passion.

    Consider two things.
    1) Most people want you to do well. The music’s the bus and there waiting for the diver to pick em up and sweep em off to never-never land. The Music Police have serious issues of their own, don’t let them down you. I admit I’ve actually made a mistake while playing, I’ve those nights where I personally felt I suck. And I doubt I’m alone in this I’ll go as far as to say anyone who has never felt this way at least once is either a) lying or b) has serious issues with self perception. And yet, besides all that I still dare call my self a guitarist.

    2) Does being nervous really matter. Sure the hands shake, not the biggest asset in the world but hey good for some really wicked wide vibrato. But seriously, Allow Thou Self to be Nervous. By drawing attention to it your highlighting the fact. Build it and they will come. Well if you build a shrine to nervousness, nervousness and all its physiologically unsettling relatives will come pouring in by the droves. Nervousness is acutely gregarious. Ignore a highly gregarious individual and they tend to go away. Ignore nervousness and it tends to do the same. Then your left with adrenaline. Yippie. Adrenaline rocks!
    Simply accept your nervousness. Make light of it, say to yourself, “Damn I’m nervous. Check out my hands there shakin like leaves. Look at that leg just a quivering away.” Now you’ve taken control. Now it see’s your not heeding him or even worse making fun of him, he’ll go away.

    As far as Stage vs. Bedroom playing. You’ll never play like you do in your room on stage. Likwise the same is true in reverse. There two different objects. You’ll do somethings better. You’ll do somethings worse. There’s things that happen on stage you could never recreate in your bedroom in a thousand lifetimes. That’s what makes the stage special.
    Well that’s my nightly Ramble.

    NP- Racer X “YRO” –Gee, he play’s this just a touch faster than I Do Oh, well I always like to get my butt blown away before I practice. Gives me inspiration.
    "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is usually the correct one." William of Occam

  6. #6
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    A certain amount of stage fright will never go away - and that's good. It keeps you concentrated and on your toes.
    There are some ideas to decrease nervousness and they have already been mentioned. Gary Moore once said in an interview that he does not allow anybody in his room before a gig, not even his wife - he's that "nervous" / anxious / concentrated.

    It also helps to imagine the worst possible thing that could happen - and you'll see that you're probably worrying too much.
    People are there to listen to you - they want to like you and it will need quite a bit of convincing from your side to make them not to.

    What if you make a mistake?

    A smaller mistake will not even be noticed by most of the audience. The way how you deal with bigger mistakes will decide the audience reaction. Smile and let them know that you're nervous and keep on playing.

  7. #7
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
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    There are no mistakes, only opportunities for creative recovery.
    Learn to use the adreniline and push your thinking ahead. Adreniline makes your mind quicker and you can be thinking about the next idea. The bad part is the vibratto suffers and becomes quick and nervous, this requires lots of work to counteract. Your conviction is the most important thing on stage.
    Believe that you are going to do it right, look someone in the audience in the eye and send them that message of confidence.
    If you can do that with everyone in the audience during your set.
    The crowd behaves like a pack of wild dogs, if you are scared and shaking (timid) they will move in for the kill, but if you are aggressive and tough, then you have them where you want them.

    Believe you are going to play your best and that you could play with your feet and it would stiil be good.

    One more thing, somtimes onstage when you have become more comfortable, you will find your self watching your self play( or the women dance) and thinking about other stuff, this is very cool. You might start panicing that you don't remember the lyrics or the lick or chord that is coming up. don't let this worry you, if you just relax and let it happen the lick or words will spill out, and you will think 'Ahh that is what I was suppsed to do!'
    "Listen to the Spaces Between the sounds."
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  8. #8
    Sweetest of the bees sugarbee's Avatar
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    Stage fright can do one thing well, and that's keep things interesting! Whenever I am feeling nervous on stage I try to focus on something that's not a person without giving the impression I'm not playing to the crowd. Work on your Stage presence, create a face to go with the music. Something that works for you, especially if it's real may have a surprising affect on someone in the audience. You can use your fright to your advantage, closing your eyes to block out all but the music communicates as confidence and giving yourself over to your craft. Zone into yourself until the performance is over and the audience will zone into you as well. It's amazing to notice a room full of chat go silent because all they can focus on is you and how into your music you have suddenly become, then, the best part is, they can't help but get absorbed into it as well. So basically, try and forget everything but playing, performing and the way it makes you feel, forget you are playing for anyone else. This has worked well for me in the past.

  9. #9
    Sweetest of the bees sugarbee's Avatar
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    Oops! Ranted so long there on stage fright, I forgot about the singing!!!
    I'm basically a self taught singer so the things I'm gonna say here may be a bit unconventional, but they worked for me, so here goes!
    If you have a powerful voice, work with it, belt it out whenever you can, just remember not to force it. If you have an empty house and no one around to bother you put on a tune you know and love and sing the **** out of it, or do it on a long lonely drive with a cd in your stereo, somebody else's voice singing along (i.e, whoever recorded it) can make you feel more confident. To work on power and strength I find that if I pick a visual focus and litterally sing at it, (i.e something at or something above eye level, a nail on the way, a photograph hanging, a crack in the paint, anything will do) I can hone in and really focus my task. Keep your mouth relaxed and round whenever possible. Think about filling the room with sound, with your voice, and yes, sing the same stuff over and over again, if there's a note you can't get in a phrase just sing that phrase over and over and over again. As far as power vs soft and sweet, maybe it's a breathing thing. Learning how to use your diaphram when you breathe will give you a lot more control all over the map. There's lots more I could write here, but I'm in danger of rambling (okay, I'm already rambling) hope this helps a little, these are just a few things that work for me. When in doubt, just sing, just do what you feel, find your own groove, and then it's all cool!

  10. #10
    7-string madhatter@skool's Avatar
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    Hey,
    I have the same problem that Gareth has (hands shake uncontrollably). I had some relatives come to my house over the weekend, & when I tried to play for them, my picking hand shook really bad. I played for a while & later on it quit shaking. But, @ the beginning, I had to do almost all legato stuff cuz I couldn't pick fast @ all. Is there anything that I could do at the beginning of playing to relax? I mean, I was only playing for a few family members, & I wasn't nervous @ all (no adrenaline rush, etc...) I felt perfectly comfortable mentally, but when I tried to play, my picking hand shook badly. It really suprised me. Thanks to everyone for the advice on mental preperation!! Is there anything that can be done to stop the physical effects? Like I said, I wasn't nervous @ all; I guess my body was?!?
    Thanks!

    P.S. I warmed up like I normally do---stretching hands under warm water, so it wasn't cuz of coldness, tightness, or weakness.
    Last edited by madhatter@skool; 04-13-2004 at 06:15 PM.
    "An object at rest CANNOT BE STOPPED!" - The Evil Midnight Bomber (What Bombs at Midnight) [The Tick]

  11. #11
    Take a quick drink of whiskey or so, usually sorts your nerves out.

  12. #12
    No catch phrase. Guitarperson88's Avatar
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    I used to have stage fright the first couple of gigs i played. But then the third time i told myself, You can do this, you have people cheering your name out there. That always helps it go away, the fact you have people shouting your band's name "REWIND! REWIND!" It makes it all go away. I havent had it since.
    (enter catch phrase here)

  13. #13
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    If you're prepared properly, just remember, worrying will not help, theres nothing else you can do to play better...you will play a lot better just relaxing.

    A little thing to remember; people are there to listen to you play, and enjoy you; even if you make a mistake, no-one will care, it's human, it's natural, just remember, the audience aren't there in the hope that you do badly, they are there to enjoy your music
    Last edited by Lowthorpe; 04-13-2004 at 09:43 PM.

  14. #14
    Sweetest of the bees sugarbee's Avatar
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    One of the most important things to do before a performance to help calm yourself down is breathe! It's very easy to forget to do it, but if you can remember to take a few slow, even breaths before you strum a note it does help. Think of it as a way of centering yourself, directing your focus. First, find a comfortable posture, to stand or sit in and then before you focus on your playing focus on just breathing, it's the same as the principle behind taking a deep breath before letting your temper explode. That kinda thing. I often get the shakes just before I'm about to perform, all over shakes and I'm worried my playing will suck and my vibrato will sound like it's on hyperspeed, I take a few really deep breaths and I feel better immeadiately. I don't know if it's nerves or excitement or just the fact that I know I am in the spotlight and all eyes are on me. In some ways I think performing can be a very intimate thing for a lot of us, and so you make yourself vulnerable when you know and can see people are watching you. If you are calm and comfortable it will make for a better start and I usually find I find my own performance groove soon after, as long as you have a good start you can get through it.

  15. #15
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    I think a huge factor is how comfortable and confident you are with playing whatever you are playing. The stuff I play in the band is technically easy (to me anyway; everyone always says it's really hard, but there's no economy or anything). So I can go into the gig knowing I'll play well. I'm not someone who's comfortable being looked at by a load of people outside of the band; I can be quite introverted. But when playing, the confidence in one's own playing is a key factor for staying relaxed.

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