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Performance Anxiety

GUEST,Celtic Soul 31 Jul 01 - 01:50 PM
Uncle_DaveO 31 Jul 01 - 12:56 PM
Helen 31 Jul 01 - 01:07 AM
Marion 30 Jul 01 - 12:34 AM
Helen 27 Nov 99 - 09:47 PM
Little Neophyte 27 Nov 99 - 12:13 AM
Helen 26 Nov 99 - 09:07 PM
Little Neophyte 26 Nov 99 - 02:08 PM
WyoWoman 26 Nov 99 - 01:39 PM
seagoddess 26 Nov 99 - 01:04 PM
poet 25 Nov 99 - 07:31 PM
Helen 25 Nov 99 - 05:32 PM
Little Neophyte 25 Nov 99 - 04:23 PM
WyoWoman 25 Nov 99 - 01:05 PM
Bob Landry 25 Nov 99 - 12:32 PM
Arnie 25 Nov 99 - 12:01 PM
Rick Fielding 25 Nov 99 - 11:29 AM
Arnie 25 Nov 99 - 09:37 AM
JedMarum 24 Nov 99 - 06:13 PM
Allan C. 24 Nov 99 - 05:12 PM
Little Neophyte 24 Nov 99 - 02:53 PM
24 Nov 99 - 02:48 PM
Arnie 24 Nov 99 - 02:27 PM
JedMarum 24 Nov 99 - 01:56 PM
stupidbodhranplayerwhodoesn'tknowanybetter 24 Nov 99 - 12:17 PM
seagoddess 24 Nov 99 - 11:35 AM
Arnie 24 Nov 99 - 10:08 AM
Liz the Squeak 24 Nov 99 - 12:10 AM
poet 23 Nov 99 - 07:04 PM
Little Neophyte 23 Nov 99 - 06:14 PM
Les B 23 Nov 99 - 05:55 PM
seagoddess 23 Nov 99 - 05:32 PM
Midchuck 23 Nov 99 - 02:32 PM
Jeri 23 Nov 99 - 01:58 PM
Vixen 23 Nov 99 - 01:47 PM
Alice 23 Nov 99 - 01:38 PM
Rick Fielding 23 Nov 99 - 12:36 PM
Little Neophyte 23 Nov 99 - 11:46 AM
seagoddess 23 Nov 99 - 11:16 AM
BK 02 Nov 99 - 09:57 PM
lamarca 02 Nov 99 - 03:24 PM
Jack (Who is called Jack) 02 Nov 99 - 09:16 AM
Lonesome EJ 02 Nov 99 - 12:42 AM
Joan 01 Nov 99 - 09:31 PM
Fortunato 01 Nov 99 - 11:41 AM
JedMarum 01 Nov 99 - 10:21 AM
MMario 01 Nov 99 - 09:44 AM
JedMarum 01 Nov 99 - 09:32 AM
katlaughing 31 Oct 99 - 11:14 PM
Allan C. 31 Oct 99 - 07:52 PM
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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: GUEST,Celtic Soul
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 01:50 PM

Jitters are natural. What I did was to put myself out there more and more and took the risks. With each time I screwed up and lived, the fear lessened. :D

I still choke a little when the venue is big enough, or if we are recording live for the purpose of using it for a CD, but all in all, the butterflies are a lot less often, and a lot less severe.

Hope that helps.


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 12:56 PM

Helen is onto something. A beta-blocker called propanolol is extremely helpful. It's marketed as a blood pressure drug, but many a doctor will prescribe it for this use, which is well supported by the research literature.

I learned of it from a very helpful book called Stagefright, which my classical pianist wife learned of in a class on handling stagefright she had when she was doing her master's. I have used it a few times.

One takes a propanolol pill about an hour before performance time. There is no change in sensation or perception. It doesn't make you any better (or any worse) than your practice has made you be. It is not habit forming. What it does is suppress or maybe the word is eliminate the unfortunate physical side-effects of stagefright, like trembling, shaking, whatever. You still have whatever worries about being "good enough", so there's still the "edge" that some people actually want when they perform. The difference is that you can control your hands, you don't fall down on stage from fright, and so on.

Having made it through the stress situation, the next time in that venue or that stress situation is easier. For that sort of situation, soon you don't need the help of propanolol. If you then are faced with a different type of situation that is a new stress challenge, then you may want to use propanolol for that new, greater challenge. But you're not hooked forever on it.

I can recommend it. It's been a long time now since I last felt any need for it, but faced say with a new location or maybe a much bigger audience than I'd performed for previously, I might very well.

DAve Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Helen
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 01:07 AM

Marion,

I don't have the scientific facts to back it up, but I think it really has some sort of chemical effect, relating to beta-blockers which are medically prescribed for high blood pressure or something similar.

Glad it worked for you.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Marion
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 12:34 AM

I played a gig yesterday and tried the "couple of bananas half an hour before playing" idea - and you know, I think it helped. I didn't have anywhere near the usual mix of nausea and dread that I usually have just before performing.

Give it a try! It may be a placebo effect, but I'll settle for placebos if they work.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Helen
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 09:47 PM

Sure Banjo Bonnie, and because you are a 'Catter I'll waive my usual speaking-up fees. *BG*


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 27 Nov 99 - 12:13 AM

Helen, can I hire you to speak up for me?


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Helen
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 09:07 PM

I use the centering process before any public speaking or any presentations or training sessions if I am not feeling confident. It is *almost* an automatic thing but if I am really in a scary situation like a confrontation with the boss then I have to consciously remember to get out of my stress feelings and get back into a centred feeling.

Not long after I learned how to do it I was in a work meeting which had the potential of being pretty bad and I used the technique. I could feel my sense of control over the situation growing, and I felt really confident & capable. I really surprised myself when I told the boss, (who was formidable, and who had the majority of the staff trained to quake in their boots - or pee in them - as soon as they saw him) that he was unapproachable - which sounds pretty tame, but believe me, it was a pretty brave or foolhardy act on my part.

I survived, he nearly choked, and after we both recovered from the shock we started getting on a whole lot better.

I always will remember that feeling of calm confidence I had after using the centering technique - it was like a power inside me, like gentle strength.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 02:08 PM

Helen your suggestion is very helpful. I think the centering you are talking about can also be referred to as grounding.
Sometimes I visualize myself being rooted into the earth. This helps me to feel centered and clear and as WyoWoman so beautifully expressed, allows one to be an empty vessel receiving the pure music from above.

Thanks Helen, this is an important point.
To be an empty vessel you need to calm the nerves. To calm the nerves it helps to center yourself.

Banjo Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: WyoWoman
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 01:39 PM

Absolutely. I really do see myself as the instrument, not the player. At least I do when I'm doing it "best," and letting it flow. As soon as I start having it be about me, it becomes less-than.

I heard this beautiful poem the other day on the radio (didn't write down name or poet, damme) that talked about how, when we die, we become whatever we always thought we became upon death. Those who believed in hellfire and damnation experience that, those who believed in heaven and harps experience that, those who believe death is oblivion, disappear. I just imagine this skin bag that has always encased us disappearing and us just dissipating into pure music. Phoooooof, just like that, becoming music at last without the tangible layer between us and it.

In the meantime, however, making music gets us pretty close.

WW


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: seagoddess
Date: 26 Nov 99 - 01:04 PM

Helen - "centering" is an excellent suggestion, thank you. As a bodyworker/massage therapist it is something I use on a regular basis, but have never thought of doing before a performance. DUH! It is an excellent grounding method and brings all of your energy into "focus" I like to say. It's got to work for performance, as well as it does for so many other situations.

Wyo Woman - you've mentioned, a very important, often overlooked aspect of singing and performance, the spiritual. I feel strongly that music should delight one's spirit, not set it to worry and trembling...like performance anxiety. Your prayer reminds me of what Helen said of the practice of "centering" and I see them as connected. Music doesn't belong to us, we are merely the conduit or the messenger.

This is such good stuff! I am so glad I decided to get "Muddy!"

Cindy


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: poet
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 07:31 PM

A word straight from the pen of The Kipper Family. and not in any way sexist it covers any musician here.
This nervous reaction is called Pre Minstral Tension.
As I am one who throws up minutes before an important gig "I do know what i'm Talking about"

Graham(Guernsey)


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Helen
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 05:32 PM

Hi all,

I haven't had time to read all of this thread until now - it just kept getting too long to read in one go.

I'll apologise for the thread creep about beta blockers but I hope you'll forgive me for that, since it was about my mother. Thanks 'Spaw, kat, Jeri & BK for your thoughts on that.

Now, back to the regular programme: when I did a conflict resolution course about 10 years ago the trainers taught a method called getting or being "centred" ("centered" for you guys across the other side of the world). It's a bit complicated to explain here but you focus mentally on the area of your body immediately below your navel, and you can place your hand there if you need to (refrain yourself from any of those comments, 'Spaw) and after a few seconds or a bit longer you feel very focused and calm. It's almost like a super-fast meditation. The trainers used the exercise of asking us to stand still, without being centred and having someone else try to push us so that we stopped standing straight, i.e. not push over, but just push at an angle. After being centred it was a lot harder to be moved by the other person.

It becomes an attitude when you use it regularly. As long as I remember to do it I find my whole attitude being very calm, with a sense of being in control. And that attitude seems to convey to other people, too, somehow. I actually envisage a white light radiating from that part of my body - but that is just my way of doing it).

It works in all kinds of situations, including confrontations/explosive situations with your boss.

If I am being unclear and you want to know more you can send me a personal message if you like.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 04:23 PM

Thanks Arnie. I would love to get your recording and I'm definately going to contact you.
As for learning great stuff, you need a great teacher of which I think I have the best.

I appreciate your replys, they are very encouraging.
Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: WyoWoman
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 01:05 PM

A couple of thoughts to add to this thread:

I can sing up a storm by myself or with one more musician I know well. But when it comes time to jam, I get very, very shy. This is probably why I've never gone farther with my music. It seems to me that musicians (guys, for the most part) are either born knowing what they're doing, or stay in their rooms working up their chops until they're "there." But as a singer, you can only go so far sitting in your room and working up your music. It's taken years for me to be able to just say, "I do this one in D and the rhythm is like this..."

It's so odd. I'm a very confident woman who's been working in a "man's profession" for years, but put me in front of a bunch of musicians and I turn idiot. AND ... I can harmonize on auto pilot when I'm with one of my sisters or my close friends. But put me in front of a group of musicians (e.g. a *band*!!!) and I go completely tone-deaf.

Once I have got a piece of music well-rehearsed, I can sing in front of crowds large and small, but it really helps to close my eyes and feel the song. I get distracted by the audience looking at me.

I always pray before I go on, not to God the Father or whatever, but to the music itself. (I know this sounds woo-woo, but it's true.) I just say to it, "I pray to do you justice tonight, and to give the audience a joyful experience..." or something like that. And at some point, the music simply takes over. For me, the wrestling match is just getting my ego out of the way, taking the focus off Little Me and giving my instrument, my voice, to the music. Then, it quickly all turns to magic. And there is abolutely nothing in the world like that experience of finishing a song and feeling that complete hush in the room that tells me they all, *we* all, got it at once.

Mmmmm.

WW


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Bob Landry
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 12:32 PM

For years, I suffered from chronic stage fright and stuttered anytime I had to speak in public. Then I took the Dale Carnegie course which stresses that you should talk about things that you already know and break your speech into 5-minute segments. Things started to turn around when I began teaching courses on how to prepare financial projections. Dry stuff, but as my experience grew and I became more relaxed, I received a compliment when another coach told me that mine was the only accounting class she'd seen where the students were actually laughing. That's because I have fun and use a lot of humourous anacdotes in class. Although I always experience a bit of apprehension when I first meet a new group, I learned to start with the easy stuff and then relax as things get more complex. They're not there to criticize; they're there to learn. And I, the so-called expert, am there to help by relating some of my experiences, so why not make it fun.

On the musical side, I started to play guitar by picking up a buddy's spare guitar, learning a few chords and strumming along at jams. My idea there was to learn and have fun. Even though I was terrible, my skill and confidence grew as time went on. More recently, I adopted the practice of playing with musicians who are better than I am so that I continue to learn. In the last year, I've taken my music public. A local bar singer (with guitar and electric Ringo) lets me and a blues harp player sit in once every few weeks. Everybody benefits when that happens. The harp player and I learn more about what it takes to play for an audience. The paid musician gets to improvise, play blues lead and riffs while I carry on with the rhythm. The barflies get a fuller sound and tunes that are not in his regular sets. It does interesting when he starts a tune that I've never played before but if I catch the rhythm and chord progressions, I do a credible job. We played an incredibly tight rhythm & blues set last Friday night. As far as stage fright is concerned, my teaching experience helped me to get to the point where I'm simply enjoying myself and trust that the audience enjoys what we are doing. I just concentrate on making the best music I can and having fun.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Arnie
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 12:01 PM

Rick - A force to be reckoned with within 2 years! - Jeepers Rick, you must be teaching her some great stuff! Jeff Davis converted a Gibson Mastertone into an open back- and it's a great instrument. I don't know who you are or where you are Banjo Bonnie, or if you have our banjo recording yet - you may be interested in it. You can contact me at ragged@interlog.com We are due to make some new tracks in January.


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 11:29 AM

Arnie. When Banjo Bonnie first came to me with a (bluegrass) banjo, and said "I wanna play!!" Yours was one of the very first albums I lent her. Has she bought one yet?
I've now done approximately 20 conversions (bluegrass to Old time) on folks' banjos. I'm gettin so quick at it I can't believe it. You've probably seen at least 5 of them.
I think that within a year or two, Bonnie will be a force to be reckoned with in the banjo sorority/fraternity. (if she's able to start playing with other people on a regular basis...cause you GOTTA INTERRACT!)
Rick


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Arnie
Date: 25 Nov 99 - 09:37 AM

Banjo Bonnie -The tunes I make up are mostly simple melodic clawhammer pieces - (based on my gut experience of playing traditional Appalachian fiddle tunes). I enjoy playing around with different qualities that various tunings may have, or little banjo tricks that make a phrase of music stand out. My playing philosophy is play it simple, but tasteful - which seems to work best for my style and ability. I hope to hear some of your tunes some day. No more talk of anxiety today!


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: JedMarum
Date: 24 Nov 99 - 06:13 PM

Viagra? Nope. I tried the home remedies; a dozen oysters. I was disappointed though - a couple of them didn't work.


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Allan C.
Date: 24 Nov 99 - 05:12 PM

There is a practice in psychology known as Neuro-Linguistic Programming, (NLP) which I swear can be done for one's self. (I am not aware of any clinical studies to support this idea but would be happy to hear of it if any one knows about one.) The basic idea is to TAG a certain positive feeling in such a way as to be able to call it up whenever it is needed to use toward compensating for a negative one. For instance, let us say that you feel totally in control and perhaps even powerful whenever you are giving a guitar lesson. But you have a real problem with riding in elevators. NLP could be used to link the feeling of control with the problem with elevators to help to overcome that problem.

NLP works on the premise that we all process information by way of one of three basic methods: seeing, hearing or touching. You probably have some idea which of these is the one which works best for you. For instance, you may recognize that someone can tell about a new capo they bought or even draw a picture for you to look at and it does no good. But once you actually hold it in your hands, you finally understand exactly how it works better than another one you know about. This may indicate that you learn from touching.

Now, here's the idea. The next time you are giving a guitar lesson and you are feeling especially good about how it is going, give yourself a touching signal - oh, I don't know - give your left ear lobe a sharp tug or something. Then, the next time you are confronted with the task of riding in an elevator, give your left ear lobe a tug. In some marvelous way, your body will help your mind to connect the two events so that some of the power from the first event will be transferred to the second one.

Does this sound crazy? Well, maybe it does. But I know for certain that it has been used successfully in clinical situations by trained, licensed practitioners. I also know that there is no license required to try it for yourself. I have used it, myself, with some degree of success.

It might be worth a try to see if it could work to help overcome stage fright or perhaps even something other.

I hate this, but I suppose I must offer the usual disclaimers about the fact that I am not a licensed practitioner and that if you should decide to try this at home, you should check with one beforehand.


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 24 Nov 99 - 02:53 PM

So glad you ask Arnie, I have no clue.
They sound kind of classical. Sometimes I think it's Medieval, other times 'New Age'(I had that word), I'd rather think of them as melodic.
Maybe Rick will read this and give his professional opinion.
When I play my tunes for others, and ask what they think, I don't get a clear definition either?
I'd love to hear what you are doing Arnie


Sister Seagoddess, I took the resonator off my 5 string to make it sound more like an open back and changed the clear plastic head to fibre skin which made a significant difference in the tone. I love my Frankenstein!
(how'd I do there Rick?)
As for muscles, it's not just my neck that's strong.

Banjo Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From:
Date: 24 Nov 99 - 02:48 PM

Have you tried Viagra?


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Arnie
Date: 24 Nov 99 - 02:27 PM

Banjo Bonnie- I'm curious -What kind of tunes do you make up on the banjo? I do this this kind of thing myself, in fact I'm getting ready to record some soon.


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: JedMarum
Date: 24 Nov 99 - 01:56 PM

hmmm, good thoughts here - and to think I thought this thread was about sex!


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: stupidbodhranplayerwhodoesn'tknowanybetter
Date: 24 Nov 99 - 12:17 PM

I'd be more afraid if I wasn't afraid. Those nerves are your energy. Without that you get sloppy, or worse yet, dull and lifeless.


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: seagoddess
Date: 24 Nov 99 - 11:35 AM

Arnie -- yes! yes! yes! It's those small,intimate audiences that send me into the land of no lyrics and smudged licks. In an ensemble setting, I can usually laugh this off, clown around, goof, pace, until those pesky, ellusive lyrics find their way to my lips. But solo...well, I haven't figured out a comfort zone for this experience. My feeling is to keep playing, never drop the rhythm, and hope the lyrics- search my brain is doing will be successful...sometime soon! And, like yourself, these can be songs I've sung thousands of times. I'm playing out tomorrow night for a small audience and have been including, in my practice sessions, some of the coping techniques I've learned from this thread. I'll report back?

Banjo Bonnie - 5 string? Old timey? I don't run into many women banjo players these days. That, in itself, is a sisterhood...we all have very strong neck muscles!

seagoddess


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Arnie
Date: 24 Nov 99 - 10:08 AM

Performance anxiety is part of the deal of being a folky musician- something that I live with. For me playing a festival workshop, or bigger gig event, or pub is usually o.k., but the smaller concerts where everyone is totally silent and focused on you, sometimes does me in. The fingers usually work pretty well, until this situation shows up and all of a sudden I can't pick the real good -important licks onstage. I shrug it off afterwards to another one of those experiences, but I'm always ticked off at myself. Sometimes I think I know a song really well that I have sung a thousand times before, and I can pull it off on autopilot - but then I start concentrating a little too much and run right into a mental block which results in entire versus being lost or put in poor order or worse- ending the ditty as fast as I can in order not to prolong the embarrasement. After that freakout onstage, I am a little bit frazzled for the next number too! This is similar to the baseball pitcher who walks the bases loaded with no outs and needs calming down cause the darn manager won't take him out of the game. I'm lucky enough to perform with someone who shares some of these problems at times, and we get to deal with them together on stage (lots of good fun) and try to cover for each other, which helps tremendously.


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 24 Nov 99 - 12:10 AM

One of the best screw ups I ever heard was Nick Dow singing a song called 'Seven long years' - don't bother asking for the words, had my song book stolen a few years ago, never did replace all of them, but if anyone knows the song I mean, can they please post! - Now Nick is not a slim gentleman, and managed to paste two lines together, coming up with 'Seven long years since I saw my Willie-o'.

OK 'Spaw, do your worst with that one!!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: poet
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 07:04 PM

thread creep here. The great comedian Ted Ray had a drunken heckler one night and he said. I know your father he lives in Glasgow, the drunk replied "my father lives in London Ted Ray said "The man your mother married lives in London your father lives in Glasgow" I liked that Put down butI still threw drunken bum out.
Graham


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 06:14 PM

Midchuck, that's very funny

Seagoddess, I knew we were connected somehow.
Rick's advice is good stuff. He's my hero whose got many more years to go before he passes away.

Banjo Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Les B
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 05:55 PM

Seagoddess, et al: You're right. When you're scared you're scared, and no amount of "visualization," bananas, or positive thoughts are going to cure you. But, I always tell myself, when I find myself just short of throwing up in front of a crowd of strangers, "I must have done something worthwhile to find myself in this predicament again!" Then, I just concentrate on getting through those first notes on the instrument, and the first words of the song. Knowing that it's rough, but knowing it's goint to get better. It may take three or four songs before the dry mouth and the fumble fingers go away. And, if you do a good job on the last half of the gig, you're probably the only one who remembers how shaky the opening was.

I learned this "just get on with it attitude" a few years ago at a Taj Mahal concert. He did his sound check in the afternoon, and then showed up for an 8:00 pm show at four minutes to eight - nearly giving the producer an ulcer. Taj walked on stage with no warm-up and proceeded to do a fairly complex fingerpicking number, and not too well. But, he kept on playing, getting better and better. By the end of the night he had given one of the best solo concerts I've ever seen. I'm not saying he had stage fright, just that he worked through the "fumbles" at the start of a show like they were a natural progression -- a part of the show. Hope this helps.


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: seagoddess
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 05:32 PM

Hi all you wonderful, supportive folks who responded to my posting. Of course, I realize that others have struggled with this 'stage fright' phenomenon, but recieving such support for my struggle was food for the spirit. It will take me a while to absorb all the fine and helpful information you have so kindly passed on to me. But, in the meantime, thank you all.

By the way, Banjo Bonnie, at a recent festival I played, the sound tech had trouble remembering my name (Cindy) and so he gave me the handle 'Bonnie Banjo' for the entire weekend. I was dubbed the 'seagoddess' by someone who introduced my band years ago and it has stuck; glad you like it.

seagoddess


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Midchuck
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 02:32 PM

Is "performance anxiety" the right term when doing folk music? Wouldn't "Pre-minstrel tension" be more appropriate?


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Jeri
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 01:58 PM

Alice, that song I sent to Mudcat was recorded at least 7 times before I gave up trying to get it to sound good enough and just sent it. I'm never going to have a career singing, and I need to stop thinking I need to be that good in order to sing.

I've sung songs in our session and apologized for my voice shaking, for being off-pitch occasionally, for slight delays when I almost couldn't remember the next line. Almost always, the reply has been "Huh? Didn't notice."

There are some people I'm scared to sing around. I don't know why - they've always been kind and supportive. (And doesn't this sound remarkably like what started this thread?)


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Vixen
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 01:47 PM

Seagoddess--

If you handle large audiences comfortably, you must have strategies (subconscious or otherwise) for dealing with performance anxiety. Try to define what they are, (might be tough to do, since they're probably unconscious habit by now) and see if you can apply them to what you're feeling now. I offer this because it's what worked for me--I could calmly ride a fractious horse at high speed over indestructible obstacles in front of all kinds of spectators, but I was wreck when I got on stage with a guitar. What I had to do was practice all the strategies I used habitually with the horses. I acknowledge the anxiety, the fear of failure, the fear of violent death or injury, and the adrenaline rush, remind myself that I do this for FUN!, then calmly prepare for forseeable disasters (know the course/know the songs!), control my breathing (slow and deep--effortless, but demanding mental focus to recognize the need for it) and turn the rest over to the deities and angels who take care of such things.

It's worked for me, but mileage may vary. You actually do know what will do it for you, but you may need to dig some to find it!

V


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Alice
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 01:38 PM

So much here that I couldn't read it all, and many things about which we seem to agree as far as causes and cures for anxiety.

We are often our worst critics, hearing things no one else would notice, or at least 90% of the listeners don't hear what we hear as a weak spot or mistake. I am thinking right now of the tape on its way to Mudcat Radio where I know I sing a note a little off toward the end of a verse... but what to do - share only 'perfection'? I didn't have the time to keep recording it over. We would all be afraid to perform anything if it had to be perfect. I think that too many times people are comparing themselves to studio honed perfection that isn't even realistic for live person to person performance.

Preparation meeting opportunity is success. If you are always working on your art, consistently doing something as often as possible, when the opportunity to perform comes up, you are ready. Finding a song circle to sing or play with on a regular basis really helps in addition to practicing in private. Having the changing audience of a song circle helps you reach a comfort zone so that it makes it easier to face a different audience when it is time to perform.

I didn't read all the thread but here is one tip. If you get 'rattled' by the audience or a memory lapse, closing your eyes while you sing or play helps to focus until you get back in the groove.

Speaking of time, my Mudcat time is up today. Gotta get back to the 'drawing board'.

alice


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 12:36 PM

Hi Seagoddess
I've worked with a number of folks over the last 12 years who were trying to deal with the issues that you outline. By pure chance, just a couple of days ago I outlined some of my own experiences dealing with performance anxiety a number of years ago. You could check out the thread "A Hero of Mine Has Passed".
Just as I long ago realised that different people learn to play a musical instrument in different ways, I know that no one method works for everyone as far as feeling a comfort level in front of an audience.
It's pretty easy to find tons of anecdotal accounts of "stage fright" but much harder to discover the solutions.
If you think I might have a useful suggestion or two, drop me a personal note here at the mudcat (you must be a member to do that) or e-mail me. (I'm listed in Bbc's resources page, under the "quick-links")

Rick


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 11:46 AM

Hi Seagoddess
Maybe it would help if you thought of those in the smaller audiences as people who have come to share with you. Think of them as friends who are not looking to judge you but rather they have come to your performance to support you and your work.

I like your exotic moniker
Banjo Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: seagoddess
Date: 23 Nov 99 - 11:16 AM

Who would have thought that after 22 years of successful public performances, sometimes for audiences of thousands including national network tv, I would encounter performance anxiety! Well, it's happened and I don't like it. I still have no problem performing before huge audiences; it's those small, intimate ones that get me shaking. Oh, I have all sorts of theories -- the impersonal, anonymous nature of large audiences vs. the acute attention paid by small audiences means I can't just disappear into my stage personna, the song visuals, etc. But all the theories in the world don't help when it's actually happening. The anxiety presents itself in the worst possible ways: can't tune my instruments (don't believe the electronic tuner -- it must be malfunctioning, like me!), can't match my vocal key to the one the instrument is playing, and can't find those elusive first lines! Give me a large audience and I am golden; small audience and I fall apart; audience of one -- not a chance! I now envy those near-sighted musicians who can take off their glasses and make the audience disappear...maybe if I wore glasses that gave me double or multiple vision, I could trick myself into thinking there were actually 3,00 people sitting in front of me, rather than the actual 30! Anyone else have this problem? Suggestions?


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: BK
Date: 02 Nov 99 - 09:57 PM

Again, a lot of great stuff (wisdom on the mudcat? well, yes, it often is.. part of what makes the mudcat special) in these comments. I particularly like Joan's comment about singing for the song & seeing the pictures. It happens for me that way when it's working best, 'n if you can make those pictures - hopefully - appear for the audience as well, you've shared something very special.. "Break A Leg."

Cheers, BK

ps.. Margarita: which "Maid Of Amsterdam," the show tune turned capstain shanty & also featured in the Cinerama Movie "Windjammer?" It was supposedly from a play called "The Rape of Lucrecia." evidently a comedy...


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: lamarca
Date: 02 Nov 99 - 03:24 PM

One thing that has helped me and my husband get ready to perform pieces is to tape ourselves rehearsing, then sit back and REALLY listen to what it sounds like. It was agonizing to me to try to listen to myself at first - I was too squeaky, I was off pitch there, I flubbed the words on that line. But learning to listen helped me identify the parts of the song that were problems that needed rehearsing to solve AND what parts of the song sounded OK. After several years of white-knuckling it before every performance, I'm FINALLY feeling more relaxed about my singing, and a lot of it's due to listening to myself practice. (Of course, a lot of it's due to supportive friends and family, too!)

Once you can listen to yourself honestly (and that can mean either being able to recognize your mistakes OR learning not to be hypercritical of yourself, depending on which way you tend to err...), you become a lot more comfortable in your own musical skin. I'm not there, yet, but it's getting better!


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Jack (Who is called Jack)
Date: 02 Nov 99 - 09:16 AM

I don't have much to add. Back when I when I had my first guitar lesson, my teacher gave me a little spiel. He said 'There are two kinds of musicians, the kind that play for others and the kind that play for themselves. The first kind wants to get in front of an audience and perform, the second prefers to play alone, privately. One of the things you'll have to learn is what kind you are.

I am definitely the latter.

Best Regards.


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 02 Nov 99 - 12:42 AM

When we play, we try to start with a song that we have flat-out mastered. Something without complicated changes, rhythm switches, intricate endings. The nervousness is still there, but I see it for what it is- an overload of energy with the potential to be negative or positive, that is there to be directed by me if I choose. With confidence in your talent and material, you gain the power to direct this nervous energy into positive flow, and a good performance. For this reason, I feel I ALWAYS give my best performances live.

LEJ


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Joan
Date: 01 Nov 99 - 09:31 PM

Singing for the song, instead of an audience, helps, and that revelation was a long time coming. Always wondered why some performance situations seemed more nervous-making than others did. Finally it dawned that a restless audience distracted me so I had trouble focusing on the song.

I've learned to "see the pictures." As I sing the words, I see the image of what they're telling about...like a little movie in my head. If you have to close your eyes to get those images at first, then do, but after a while the movie goes on automatically. Try it! If you're absorbed in your song, doesn't matter if some folks are sitting around looking and listening. You'll have them seeing the pictures, too.


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Fortunato
Date: 01 Nov 99 - 11:41 AM

Little Neophyte

Good Thread. I would add that mistakes made out of nervousness show me the weakness in my preparation. Where I screw up is where I need to focus my rehearsal. Now that said, there ain't no musicians who ain't screwed up something nearly every time they play out. Welcome to the club. Alson, no one ever died of performance anxiety, nor can you be prosecuted for blowing a chord change. Relax.

Fortunato


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: JedMarum
Date: 01 Nov 99 - 10:21 AM

... chuckle, MMario. it's funny how that works!


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: MMario
Date: 01 Nov 99 - 09:44 AM

liam - I know what you mean.....I sang a song once to a crowd of about 200 strangers...and didn't have a problem...but when i tried to sing the same thing to my sister...a few days later...I mucked it up something royal....


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: JedMarum
Date: 01 Nov 99 - 09:32 AM

many good comments here .. I just want to second some thoughts. I have performed for many years, to audiences, large and small. I still allow my nerves to affect my performance (unfortunately). I've just gotten better at pretending they don't! I also know that once I get rolling, the nerves go away. So I start with songs I love, and can play backwards in my sleep.

... and it also true for me that the size of the audience or the noteriety of the venue is not neccessarily a factor in my nerves ... it is the importance of the performance to me that makes it more or less nerve wracking. It can be harder for me to play a new song to a few friends in the living room than to a large audience at a concert hall!


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: katlaughing
Date: 31 Oct 99 - 11:14 PM

Jeri, I also did Hawthorn, fell away from it, but my doc was okay with it and I know I'd feel easier about things if I started it up again. You've motivated me, thanks!


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Subject: RE: Performance Anxiety
From: Allan C.
Date: 31 Oct 99 - 07:52 PM

Honest. I don't relate EVERYTHING to sex...but this thread, perhaps because of its intriguing title, does, indeed, make me think of it. I mean, yes, you can have a pretty good time by yourself and do some things "just right". But the best part of sex is when there is good feedback. When some subtle thing about your partner lets you know just the right thing to do. Of course, sometimes they just yell it out at you! And that's good too. And then some other subtle or not-so-subtle feedback lets you know that what you did was good.

I used to perform fairly often in front of audiences - some of them pretty damned big. (Shut UP, Spaw! You know very well what I meant!) and then drifted away for a long, long time. During that time away I lost, forgot or whatever the good memories of what it was like to be up in front of a bunch of people singing and playing my guitar. It seems like all the time I have been spending here on the Mudcat has been pointing me toward a new beginning. It has been stirring something deep inside me and making me think a lot more about getting in front of an audience (perhaps even a PAYING audience) again.

Nobody could possibly know how very nervous I was about going up to Annap's and singing in front of all of the people I knew would be there. I was both excited and almost petrified. That is, until I got there. Then it was like being at home with just a few close friends gathered around. Because of that, my anxiety prior to the Getaway was nowhere near the level it was before the trip to Annap's.

Singing with the Mudcatters at Annap's and at the Getaway have reminded me of how very wonderful it is to play for someone; rather than for my living room walls. Nobody ever came right out and told me what songs they wanted to hear, but the "feel" of the group dictated what and how I sang. And, the way I felt after screwing up my first song at the Getaway was surprising to me. I could almost feel a hand on my shoulder saying "That's okay, Allan. We all mess up. Go ahead and play a different song. It's really okay..." And so I did. And it went pretty well. Doing that in front of so many wonderfully supportive (and yes, sympathetic!) people was almost better than sex!


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