Advice for a Nervous Performer To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=84530
34 messages

Advice for a Nervous Performer

10 Sep 05 - 12:52 AM (#1560272)
Subject: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Musique174

Tommorrow I attempt something I have never done before and that scares the death out of me. I have sung infront of crowds before, and I know I know the music, but still this is my first paid gig.

I know there are many of you out there that have been through this anxious nervousness. Any advice? Tips?


10 Sep 05 - 01:58 AM (#1560281)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Amos

The very best performers in the world feel that way. They take a deep breath and go out and earn their pay wiht the best they ccan give.

Find someone individual in the back of the hall and address him or her, and maybe change to a different person from time to time. When you know you are communicating to someone, it is much harder to be scared.

See earlier threads on stagefright as well.

Goopd luck!! Do well!!

A


10 Sep 05 - 02:13 AM (#1560282)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: mandotim

Always remember that fear is your friend. The adrenaline you will produce has two possible effects; 'fight' (ie performing well) or 'flight' (ie running away). You can decide which effect will predominate. As a performer, the time to get really worried is when you don't feel nervous; generally speaking that means the 'edge' has gone. One little tip; adrenalin also causes dryness in the mouth. The traditional folkie remedy for this is beer, but sucking a mint before you go on works too! Break a leg.
Tim from Bit on the Side


10 Sep 05 - 03:00 AM (#1560290)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: The Villan

Drinking water helps to keep the throat moist. I don't think alcohol helps the voice whatsoever and wine/coffe/tea I think makes it worse. This was something I learnt from a top class lecturer many years ago in relation to teaching. Never forgot that.

As somebody who runs a folk club I can only suggest the following based on how I percieve performers.

Obviously your talent is in singing and playing. Concentrate on doing the very best you can on that score. After all that is what the audience are there for.

Once you have done your first number and hopefully the audience have enjoyed it, I am sure the ad lib humour etc will begin to flow as you build up a bond with the audience.

However, one of the things I find, is that lots of performers do really well, but quite often, in their nervousness, tend to concentrate on the people at the front and talk to them. Very often, the people at the back can't hear what the performer is saying. So make sure you ask the people at the back if they can hear you OK when you are talking and adjust you talking voice accordingly. Speak slowly and clearly so that every body hears what you have to say. If that is a problem for you, cut the chat out and just sing.

I am not a performer myself, but as a listener that is my personal viewpoint. Hope my comments help a little bit.


10 Sep 05 - 03:48 AM (#1560297)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Bunnahabhain

I'm used to being on stage now, but it's dancing, not singing* so I am very rarely out there on my own.

Remembering you're there with others seems to help, even if they're not with you, but in the wings. And smile.

Bunnahabhain

*Except Mairi's Wedding, Blue Bonnets etc where I know the song the dance tune has 'borrowed'. And especially if it's got filthy lyrics and the set is looking a bit lifeless


10 Sep 05 - 03:53 AM (#1560300)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: alanabit

A good audience is your reward for practising. So you like them and then they will probably like you. All the previous advice is good. The audience is always more likely to enjoy what you do if you enjoy it yourself and show your enjoyment in it. It is always worth remembering that the audience is very often more nervous than you are at the beginning. That is why I often deflate the tension as soon as I can, by saying something to make them smile.
I would add that I like to have everything laid out where I can put my hands on it without even thinking. I know where my flat picks are, my harmonicas, my thumb picks and my capo. Being able to reach things easily helps you to project an aura of assurance.


10 Sep 05 - 04:01 AM (#1560305)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Ernest

Try to have fun. As a listener I prefer musicians who like their audience and what they (themselves) are doing.


10 Sep 05 - 04:16 AM (#1560317)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Liz the Squeak

4 things before you step out onto the stage.

Check you have everything you need.

Go to the bathroom whether you need to or not... you'll be surprised what falls out....

Check your fly/zipper/shirt/skirt isn't tucked in your knickers/pants, you don't have spinach in your teeth or toilet paper stuck to your shoes.

Stand in the wings, get the smell of the place, take a deep breath and smile as you step out.


Do not, on any count, stand there and tell your audience that you are 'bricking it'.... the sympathetic ones will be OK but the hecklers will run you ragged!

Good luck!

LTS


10 Sep 05 - 04:57 AM (#1560327)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Brakn

Tomorrow you'll wonder what you were worried about!

Keep your throat moist. I would disagree with Villan about the water. I always get a pint of it on the side in case I get thirsty but I never think it keeps my throat moist. It gets dry a minute after. My advice, and I know others thinks it's mad, is to get a half of the weakest bitter and just sip it if your in trouble. A half can last me all night. Another tip is to bite your tongue.


10 Sep 05 - 05:09 AM (#1560332)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: the fence

I used to be very nervous and it tended to show im my voice. Now I just enjoy the time singing and playing, and that makes the difference. Still a little nervous but I reckon thats not such a bad thing.


10 Sep 05 - 05:20 AM (#1560334)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Big Al Whittle

hope it went all right

personally, I find mind altering psychotropic drugs a great boon in these circumstances

seriously though, if the audience is happy for you to be there, then its alright for you to enjoy their trust. do your best for them.

a good idea is to make a plan of what you're going to perform , in what order, but be prepared to throw it away - performances have a sort of tempo. If you have something you were saving for last, but you think it would lift the mood there and then - do it! Once the mood has bee lifted, its easier to proceed.


10 Sep 05 - 05:20 AM (#1560335)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T

Just remember, as you go out there, that the organiser(s) of the event think you are good enough to be paid to perform. They will have booked all sorts of acts in the past, so trust their judgement.

Above everything else, enjoy yourself. Audiences pick that up instantly, and can't help warming to you. Remember that this is an experience you are sharing with them, and you can't go wrong.

I won't say good luck 'cos you won't need it. As soon as you connect with the audience, you will perform to the max.

Don T.


10 Sep 05 - 05:38 AM (#1560342)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Leadfingers

A guy I worked with back in the Good Old Days always reckoned that the first song was always the hardest to sing , so he tended to start off with the second .


10 Sep 05 - 06:08 AM (#1560348)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: ejsant

If you weren't nervous it would mean you didn't care. After countless times performing in front of audiences both in my previous incarnation and now my rebirth into music I still have a bit of nervousness each time I go on. This emotion has been built into our beings for a reason. Let it be there and use it to your advantage.

I'm sure you'll knock their socks off!

Peace,
Ed


10 Sep 05 - 06:57 AM (#1560368)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: The Fooles Troupe

Of course, if you are a Nervous Perfumer, then you may be Lonely!


10 Sep 05 - 11:01 AM (#1560442)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: kendall

Remember, no one came to see you fail. Convince yourself that there are no enemies in the room, and, the same door that let them in will allow them to leave if they don't like what they see.

personally, I like hecklers; as long as I have the mike I can make a fool out of them, and usually, that is not too hard to do.

Try to make contact with them on a personal basis, most people like entertainers better than performers.


10 Sep 05 - 11:40 AM (#1560458)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Cluin

Just before you go out to perform, squirt some pickle juice in your eye.

Nothing worse will happen to you that night and everything else that was formerly intimidating will seem trivial in comparison. You'll breeze right through it in your hurry to get to the eyedrops.


11 Sep 05 - 12:54 AM (#1560833)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Gurney

Been there, felt that. Alcohol in small quantities helped me, but too much will make you fall off the stage (did that, too.)

Nervousness affected my fingers more that my voice, but that goes away about the third song.

I love hecklers, because I have plenty of put-downs saved up. The trick is to use them on an ascending scale, mild to vicious.

Have a couple of monologues ready, in case you break a string or something. If you do, ask if anyone can change it for you while you keep working.

Have a good time.


11 Sep 05 - 08:24 AM (#1560964)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: mississippitom

Some really good advice here for sure.Here best I can tell you from personal experience.
Be totally and completely prepared.Do this by not being late in setting up your stuff.Get to the place before anyone starts to perform and is almost empty of folks.If it is a place that already has the set up try to get the person in charge to let you try it out.If you are the one setting up your own stuff do so very early on.Some stages are notoriously bad accoustically and if you have not heard yourself beforehand it can startle you.
Once you are satisfied that you know and understand the setup and are comfortable with it then try to get to know some of the folk that run the place so you feel like you are more at home.If possible,go the the place sometime before you are to be on stage and before the crowd builds.This will again make you feel more at home.
Remember you are in fact communicating with every person in the place whether it be with music,dance,comedy or whatever.Sell your message with exuberance and they will love you.
I hope this helps.I still get nervous every time I get up in front of people.I could not even do it at all until the age of 33.Once I overcame the fear I experienced the greatest high I have ever had bar none.


11 Sep 05 - 09:00 AM (#1560974)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: kendall

Enjoy yourself is good advice. If you are having fun, the audience will sense it and they will return it. If you are scared shitless and bumbling around they will become very uncomfortable. Either way, it's cyclical. In other words What goes around, comes around.


11 Sep 05 - 11:05 AM (#1561042)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: EBarnacle

Lady Hillary here:

As a relatively new performer, be comfortable with your material more than 1/2 hour before you get on stage. Singing in situations where it does not matter what happens (such as in the park) takes the pressure off even if an audience gathers. Singing in supportive situations gives you confidence to get to the next level. Singing by yourself can be the scariest thing of all but it makes you feel even better once you know you have accomplished the part of being able to sing satisfactorily by yourself. [You can be your own worst critic. EB] Once you have done that, you know you can do it again.


11 Sep 05 - 07:14 PM (#1561349)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Roughyed

The best advice I ever heard was from an Irish friend that I used to play with. He had been in a band when he was in his teens that got a gig supporting a major Irish folk group of the time. One of the old hands noticed he was nervous and took him to the edge of the stage and pulled back the curtain a little. 'You see them out there' he said, pointing at the audience 'they know f*** all.'

It's great advice when you are wondering whether you can remember words/ arrnagements/chords etc. Audiences are much more forgiving than you think as long as you pretend to have confidence.


11 Sep 05 - 08:29 PM (#1561376)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: The Fooles Troupe

Once you can fake sincerity on stage, everyone in the audience thinks they love you.


11 Sep 05 - 08:35 PM (#1561380)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Peace

Advice for a Nervous Performer

Relax


11 Sep 05 - 08:57 PM (#1561397)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: The Fooles Troupe

Yes, just force yourself to relax...
;-)


11 Sep 05 - 09:03 PM (#1561401)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Peace

Right. You got it, Robin.

However, foolin' aside, I hope your performing at the Festival went well and that you learned you 'can do it'. Best to you, Musique174


11 Sep 05 - 10:05 PM (#1561433)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: dwditty

I was at a Chris Smither show a couple of years ago. Chris plays as many dates as just about anyone...zigzagging the US, canada, europe. Anyway, during the opening act, I caught sight of him in the wings....pacing....rolling his head around in circles....etc. Yes, he looked nervous!   It is all part of performing.

There is a small book by Steve Rapson called Art of the Solo Performer (yep, www.soloperformer.com ). I read and re-read this book on a regular basis...the paragraph-long sections make it easy to pick up with a few spare seconds or minutes, so keep it handy. It may not be a panacea, but I cannot count how many times I see performers do the very things Rapson warns about. My interpretation of the book is that performance is about the audience...not the performer. Putting together a show that adheres to that is evidently not as easy as it sounds.

And remember this...the audience really wants you to do well...they are pulling for you.

dw


12 Sep 05 - 02:27 AM (#1561506)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Musique174

Thank you all for the fabulous advice. Its all great, and your right... It went well and now I can't help but think "why was I so scared". But then I'm nervous for my next gig already, but I know that I will make it though it, I mean I made it through the hardest one of all... The first one. Thanks again.


12 Sep 05 - 11:11 AM (#1561783)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: mississippitom

I knew that you would do well.People that are not worried or nervous are very few and far between.I have only met one in my lifetime.


12 Sep 05 - 12:54 PM (#1561863)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Don Firth

Early on, when I was first starting to perform, I got two pieces of advice that I have since found invaluable.

First, I was told by an old, life-long classical concert performer that—assuming they know their material and have practiced assiduously beforehand—the main reason most people feel nervous before or during a performance is that they are thinking more about what the audience thinks of them than they are about the music. "It's not about you," he told me, "it's about the music. You're just the vehicle. Think about the music!"

And second, when I was petrified at the idea of doing a live television show, the producer noted my nervousness and said, "I know you're probably thinking about all the thousands of people who will be watching. But forget that! You don't get nervous if you're singing to a couple of people in their living room, do you? Remember, you're coming through only one TV set at a time, and there are probably no more than one or two people in front of that set. Think of someone you know who will be watching and do the show for them."

I would add to this what several people above have said:   Be prepared. Know what songs you're going to do (tape a set list to the side of your guitar, or whatever), and have the songs solidly practiced up. Walk out on stage (or whatever) determined that you are going to like your audience, and they will like you.

I soon found that I no longer got nervous as such. I got keyed up—the adrenalin was flowing—but it was eagerness to get out there in front of the audience.

And applause is like a drug. It's highly addictive. But—no harmful side effects!!

Relax! Enjoy!!

Don Firth


12 Sep 05 - 12:55 PM (#1561867)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Don Firth

By the way--come back and tell us how it went, okay?

Don Firth


12 Sep 05 - 12:59 PM (#1561874)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Don Firth

Jeez! I was so eager to get my two-bits in that I failed to read the last couple of posts.

Warm plunge! No sharks!

Congratulations!

Don Firth


15 Sep 05 - 12:41 PM (#1564357)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Musique174

Don, that piece of advice is great... Do it for the music not the people. I'll definatly have to remember that, and I am hoping to have the opportunity to do many more performances.


15 Sep 05 - 04:41 PM (#1564543)
Subject: RE: Advice for a Nervous Performer
From: Don Firth

Good, Musique174. I'm glad. As I said, kind of addictive, right?

Good luck on the beginnings of a singing career!

Don Firth