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Stage fright

Related threads:
stage fright - cured!!! (24)
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HELP: How to deal with stage fright!! (43)
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GUEST,Les 17 Feb 09 - 12:34 AM
Ebbie 17 Feb 09 - 01:12 AM
Barry Finn 17 Feb 09 - 01:23 AM
GUEST,Nathan Myers 17 Feb 09 - 01:30 AM
Will Fly 17 Feb 09 - 02:29 AM
Tim Leaning 17 Feb 09 - 02:42 AM
GUEST,giles earle 17 Feb 09 - 02:53 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Feb 09 - 03:02 AM
VirginiaTam 17 Feb 09 - 03:24 AM
eddie1 17 Feb 09 - 03:28 AM
Ed. 17 Feb 09 - 03:37 AM
GUEST,green wellies 17 Feb 09 - 04:22 AM
Jeanie 17 Feb 09 - 04:24 AM
GUEST, Grimmy 17 Feb 09 - 05:08 AM
Weasel 17 Feb 09 - 05:25 AM
Banjiman 17 Feb 09 - 05:27 AM
Hamish 17 Feb 09 - 05:36 AM
Anne Lister 17 Feb 09 - 06:18 AM
bubblyrat 17 Feb 09 - 06:30 AM
Nick 17 Feb 09 - 07:05 AM
VirginiaTam 17 Feb 09 - 07:11 AM
Marje 17 Feb 09 - 07:18 AM
Catherine Jayne 17 Feb 09 - 08:12 AM
SINSULL 17 Feb 09 - 08:40 AM
Brakn 17 Feb 09 - 08:46 AM
matt milton 17 Feb 09 - 08:46 AM
GUEST,Gloucesterman 17 Feb 09 - 09:07 AM
GUEST,strad 17 Feb 09 - 09:12 AM
GUEST,strad 17 Feb 09 - 09:13 AM
matt milton 17 Feb 09 - 09:30 AM
Deckman 17 Feb 09 - 10:09 AM
GUEST,Peace 17 Feb 09 - 01:21 PM
Piers Plowman 17 Feb 09 - 01:41 PM
Weasel 17 Feb 09 - 01:49 PM
Will Fly 17 Feb 09 - 02:03 PM
GUEST,Peace 17 Feb 09 - 02:06 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 17 Feb 09 - 02:53 PM
Deckman 17 Feb 09 - 03:01 PM
Don Firth 17 Feb 09 - 03:46 PM
Anne Lister 17 Feb 09 - 03:58 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Feb 09 - 04:13 PM
matt milton 17 Feb 09 - 04:57 PM
dwditty 17 Feb 09 - 05:02 PM
Clontarf83 18 Feb 09 - 01:32 AM
Tim Leaning 18 Feb 09 - 09:25 AM
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Subject: Stage fright
From: GUEST,Les
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 12:34 AM

Stage fright has been the bane of my musical life... I can play much better at home than on stage. I get tensed up, muscles locked, fingers frozen, head tight, a brain freeze etc. It especially comes on in folk clubs, when i feel I'm being watched intently...

Anyone got suggestions on preventing it? So far I have tried visualization, breathing technique, having water close to hand, and having the lyric sheet to hand even when I know the words. These work to a certain extent but I still am far from relaxed...


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Ebbie
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 01:12 AM

Wish I knew.


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Barry Finn
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 01:23 AM

If you can keep in mind that even the best screw up & they don't die because of it, it might help you to get past it, provided you know your stuff.
You might have to get it wrong & screw up a few times first to really feel like it's OK to get your nerves past all that. It may not get easier on the nerves but it will to get on stage knowing that no matter what at the end of it you'll still be breathing.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: GUEST,Nathan Myers
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 01:30 AM

Hello Friend,

I can empathize with you. The thing I try to focus on is just having a good time. You must enjoy playing music or you wouldn't do it so just let it show. Most times when people see your enjoying yourself they will relax and enjoy themselves. This has worked for me over time. I hope it will help you.

ENJOY YOURSELF,
NATHAN MYERS


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 02:29 AM

This is a question that's been discussed on many (guitar) boards. There's no real recipe for it, but I would recommend two things that I thing might help you:

1. Know your piece(s) thoroughly - and I mean thoroughly. Practice them, out loud, over and over and over again until it's totally natural to perform them. Play to any audience - family, friends - and give it your all.

2. Keep performing in public - don't let the stage fright put you off. If you're playing a small set - say 2 or pieces - make sure the first one you play is the one you know best. The applause of the audience - and you will get applause - can inspire you to relax.

Same advice as Barry Finn above, really - just more verbose! Best of luck.


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 02:42 AM

My lat emate Woja Coult gave me some advice that works to a certain extent.
He said try and make the stage your own.
For me this means not only learning the materiel as well as I can but figuring out before hand where you need the mics,chair,music stand etc if you need them.
Find things you can do that give you time to try and calm down a little before you start to play.
I am terrible as soon as there is a mic to deal with.
You have my sympathy and best wishes for future performances.


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: GUEST,giles earle
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 02:53 AM

I find it helps tremendously to tell myself firmly that nerves are selfish. Being too kind and understanding to onself can be counterproductive.

Also keep an eye on your breathing before you start. Relax your shoulders, and take a few deep breaths (right down, so that you feel the muscles of your lower back engaging).   Is this the technique you are already trying?

You may find it helps - some do, some don't - to look at audience members straight in the eye, so that you can engage personally.


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 03:02 AM

A set of relaxation exercises will help ease the tension when performing. The simple act of dropping your shoulders before you start works wonders - won't get rid of the tension, but will let you direct it to where it's needed.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 03:24 AM

I used to freeze trying to figure out what to perform. (I have a big binder full of songs). So now I pick a few prior to the session and practice those, put them in the front of the binder and just go through them one by one. Sometimes I do seek for and perform other songs that seem to go more with the flow of the session.

I only started doing this a couple of years ago. I have to say now I am much more relaxed in sessions where I am known and know others. I have seen those I know to be perfectionists and those good on a professional level make mistakes and how they recover. I have seen how those I know to be nervous neophytes like me cope. All good stuff. Plates for my mental armour.

Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself.
I discovered that if I flub in mid performance, when I chuckle at my foible, I relax a bit and the rest comes much easier. A finger stumble over guitar strings can be covered with "Who put those notes in there?" I misplaced verse in song with " I swear that verse wasn't there yesterday." All of which puts a different spin on the mistake. Makes it part of the entertainment. I have trouble with songs in which I must count. Like Children Go Where I Send Thee. I start this song with the disclaimer that I am numerically challenged and will need help to stay on track.

If you can get out a good guffaw before you start it may go a long way to dispelling that initial fear.
I understand a number of performers start by telling some little funny story, providing a disclaimer or engage in self-deprecating humour.

You are doing this for fun after all and not some masochistic self-torture. I hope. Good thing to remember is to do it so you enjoy it. If you are enjoying it, people will remember that and not the mistakes.

Having said all that, this Sunday will be the first time I accompany my singing with guitar. Never played in front of people (my mom and kids don't count as people) before. We shall just have to see how it goes.

Good luck to the both of us.


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: eddie1
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 03:28 AM

Hi Les

In addition to all the good advice given above, there are two other things, almost contradicting one another, that can help at different times.
1. Look just above the heads of the audience, visualise a friend and sing to them.
2. Choose someone in the audience who looks sympathetic and sing to them.

I firmly believe though that if you have no stage fright whatsoever, it's time to give up. It does give you that extra dose of adrenalin that makes all the difference to a performance.

Good luck
Eddie


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Ed.
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 03:37 AM

Some previous threads on the subject:

Stage fright - Help!

HELP: How to deal with stage fright!!

stage fright - cured!!!


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: GUEST,green wellies
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 04:22 AM

I dont perform musically but I compete at dressage, and I know the feeling, I have actually thrown up with fear before I go into the arena.
I've got over this by smiling, smiling at everybody, the judges, audience other competitors everybody who I can see. I know thats not easy to do when you singing! but it helped me.

A friend of my brothers who does perform visualises the front row of the audience as being mates sitting in his front room at home. That worked for him, not instantly, but after a few months he cracked it.

Good luck.


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Jeanie
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 04:24 AM

To counteract feeling that you "can play much better at home than on stage", I have always found it helpful to imagine every rehearsal (whether at home or wherever) to be a performance and I picture an appreciative, friendly audience being there. Then, when performance time comes, the whole thing feels far more familiar. The presence of a real, live audience gives that extra, amazing, magical boost so that what you do is then "even better on stage than at home" !

- jeanie


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: GUEST, Grimmy
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 05:08 AM

Having suffered from terminal SF since the mid 70's, I can fully sympathise.

I have given talks, presentations, demos to quite large (and sometimes important) audiences over many years - no problem whatsoever.

Stick me anywhere where people can hear me perform and I freeze solid. The 'audience' could be a single friend or relative - it could even be someone passing by the window (who can't actually hear what I'm doing).

There is absolutely no logic to any of it and it's so, so frustrating.


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Weasel
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 05:25 AM

I'm a classical musician and yes, I have occasionally suffered from stage-fright, sometimes to the extent of throwing up before I go on.

However, I find that there is often a direct relationship between the degree of fear and my confidence that I am able to do the job - if I'm not sure whether I can manage it, I'm scared - if I have practised something to the point where I know it cannot go wrong, then the fear is much diminished, down to the point where it is an asset to playing and puts me "on edge" as it were.

Although I know that it is not always the only answer and that there are sometimes other issues involved, practice can do a lot to help.

Cheers,


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Banjiman
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 05:27 AM

Just ask yourself how yopu feel about it when someone else makes a mistake....... I trust you want them to make a success of it and you don't hold it against them?

That is how the audience feels for you as well, they are on your side!


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Hamish
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 05:36 AM

I pretty much agree with all of the above. But I would add this: beware of self deprecation. Yes, a bit of homour is good and can help defuse tension; however, starting out with an "I'm going to fail but bear with me" attitude can be all too self-fulfilling. I prefer the always be confident even when you're not approach. This, too, can be self-fulfilling.

--
Hamish


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Anne Lister
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 06:18 AM

For me, the key to getting over nerves and stage fright is to concentrate on something else. The more you tell yourself to "relax" or "get over it" the less likely you'll be to think about anything but yourself ...so make the audience more important than yourself, concentrate on making them listen to your song or your introduction, try to get a smile out of someone in the middle of the room and treat them all as the friends they are. One good reason for making eye contact is that it reminds you where you really are - you're not in some kind of heavily judgmental, challenging ordeal, you're singing to people you'll be sitting amongst after your songs, and you'll be listening to some of them sing, too. And lighten up ...no one ever died of making mistakes with songs and your mistakes will be forgotten as soon as they've happened (except by you, possibly). Give the audience the gift of the songs you've chosen to play, think of them more than your own nerves and you'll have cracked it.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: bubblyrat
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 06:30 AM

My problem,as I think I may have said on a similar thread,is that,while often suffering from crippling (throwing up,shaking too much to play properly) SF, once I have got over the hurdle of the first item or two, I get a feeling of total euphoria and don't want to stop----which can be even more embarrassing than having SF !!


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Nick
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 07:05 AM

Sometimes people surprise you. I sometimes play with a friend who I thought had no nerves at all. Put them on a stage and they appear as a person with all the confidence of a person at home chatting with friends. I have never seen anyone more relaxed. They chat and joke with the audience, engage them and seems totally at home.

We played a small gig a while back and I went to get something out of the car and had a chat with them. They were smoking a small joint and said "it's just to steady my nerves". We then went on and played and you would not have a clue that there was a nerve anywhere. When I chatted about this later they explained that they learned how to do it over years of playing and touring - the nerves never went away but the ability of the audience to spot them did.


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 07:11 AM

Self deprecation is not the same as self defeating which Hamish described above. Example - "I learned this song at my Daddy's knee.... it may not be very accurate. I can tell you, you can't hear very much with a knee crammed in your ear." Keep it light and fun.



you're not in some kind of heavily judgmental, challenging ordeal

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition
Our chief weapon is fear and surprise,

Our three weapons are fear and surprise and ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope

I'll come in again.


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Marje
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 07:18 AM

I'd just like to reinforce a few of the points above:
1. (Guest Giles) "Nerves are selfish" - do you know, that's the first time I've heard that since when I was a shy child and my Dad, a wise man, told me that shyness (and nerves) is a kind of vanity. It helps me if I remember that I'm only one of a number of people performing and I'm no more important - and probably no more nervous - than anyone else. And this leads to:
2. (Anne) Think of the audience and what you're offering them, which is NOT yourself but your song. If you concentrate on the song and what it has to say, rather than on your performance, it will come across more naturally - and it'll be a lot easier to remember the words.
3. (Hamish) Don't apologise or put yourself down before you even start. It just makes the audience edgy, and some of them will wonder why you ever got up to sing if you've got a cold/aren't sure of the words/can't think what to sing, etc. Just tell them you've got a great song for them, and then go for! If you enjoy it, there's every chance that they will too.

Good luck,
Marje


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Catherine Jayne
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 08:12 AM

When I was at music college I suffered from stage fright alot but only when I had to do solos. If I was performing with at least one other it didn't affect me. My tutor realised this and made me do lots of solo performances saying that the more I did it the less the stage fright would be but it was ok to feel a little nervous.

I'm sorry that I can't give you any tips but don't give up!

Khatt


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: SINSULL
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 08:40 AM

Les,
I have watched some of the most experienced and talented performers deal with stage fright and it isn't pretty. Something happens when they set foot on stage - maybe a connection with the sudience. I am not sure and wish I could help. I do not enjoy "performing".

One thought - is it possible that you are your worst critic? Maybe you just don't know how well your performance is going?
Mary


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Brakn
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 08:46 AM

One piece of advice given to me when I was nervous before a gig - "This time tomorrow you'll be wondering what you were nervous about".


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: matt milton
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 08:46 AM

I know this is going to probably meet with a lot of disagreement and disapproval, but... have a drink or two.

I used to suffer from crippling stage fright, and sometimes I still do. But it often came down to this: to play a stilted awkward, potentially disastrous stage-fright-ridden gig in which I would frequently forget a verse, or play completely wrong chords due to worry; or to play a gig that was a bit rough around the edges cos I was maybe a little tipsy. The latter was always preferable.

I'm not saying go onstage drunk of course...

one thing that does wonders before going onstage, which is something I learned from amateur dramatics, is to do some really loud shouting and stomping before going on. Give yourself a tremendous cheer. If I'm somewhere where this would seem faintly insane to the audience, I'll get round it by giving the preceding act the biggest round of applause ever. But generally, I find some whooping and hollering before playing really gets you in the zone.

If you're really nervous then take a music stand with the lyrics on. There's no shame in it. Or tape the words to the top of your guitar.

Talk to the audience before hand. Take things slow. You don't need to start a song until your'e ready to. You don't need to start a verse until you're ready to.

But record yourself at home. Listen to your recordings until you culdn't forget the words if you tried.

And if all else fails, play with other people. Most non-musicians don't realize quite how much harder and intense playing solo really is: a lot of guys in bands who've never tried it don't either. It is indeed not an easy thing to do. Even Nick Drake, who was an incredible guitarist, played some quite iffy gigs, because he was never comfortable playing in public (and by all accounts should really have been put on the live circuit with a band). I've seen gigs where players of the calibre of Bert Jansch and John Kirkpatrick have made mistakes. No-one's cared, because they didn't make a meal of it: it was no big thing. And they're right, it isn't.


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: GUEST,Gloucesterman
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 09:07 AM

I always tell people to remember why you're performing in the first place. For most people it's to share the love of the music. And why are people there? Not to make fun but to enjoy the music you love. I always try to blur the line between audience and stage by making it as inclusive as possible. Involve your audience in the song, not just by singing with you but giving the song a good set up. What is it about? What is you relationship to the song? Things like that. But if you're not enjoying yourself your audience runs the risk of not enjoying themselves too.
Good luck and don't over think.
David


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: GUEST,strad
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 09:12 AM

I used to be painfully shy but then I became involved with running a folk club where three of us used to take turns doing the mc'ing.
After a couple of years of standing up in front of an audience and frequently making a fool of myself the nerves certainly decreased to a point where I started to feel comfortable. So volunteer to be an occassional mc at your local club to get used to speaking to an audience. I'm sure your offer won't be turned down. And don't under any circumstances apologise for mistakes. You're doing the best you can at the time, so feel pleased when it all goes right. And after all these years I still blush!


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: GUEST,strad
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 09:13 AM

Where's my cookie gone??


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: matt milton
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 09:30 AM

It got stage fright.


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Deckman
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 10:09 AM

There are a LOT of really good responses here ... let's hear it for MC. I have strong feelings on this subject ... I recently gave a workshop on "Performing Skills" and we spent some time talking about stage fright. This is something you simply must conquer if you want to perform.

I feel that stage fright comes from SELFISHNESS. If you are feeling stage fright, it's largely because you are thinking of YOURSELF, and not thinking of the audience. When you step on stage, you assume an obligation ... to perform well ... to entertain ... to educate, etc.

You CANNOT afford the luxery of thinking about yourself! The audience did not buy concert tickets to watch you on stage ... thinking about YOURSELF. Get over it ... learn your material well ... throw the books and cheat sheets away ... get up on stage ... and sing your passion! (hope this helps) Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: GUEST,Peace
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 01:21 PM

Damned good question. I have no answer. Someone once told me to picture the audience naked. I tried that but it just got me all excited.

I think everyone faces stage fright at times. I recall puking before a performance many years back and I'd been in front of audiences ranging in size from tens to tens of thousands. Some folks have said, "Know your stuff." Excellent advice. Then you can go on 'auto pilot' if you feel the beast creeping up on you.

Best wishes.

BM


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 01:41 PM

It's been awhile since I've performed in front of other people and I have felt stage fright.    If you've performed once, you can do it again.

Have you ever died on stage? I have. It wasn't the end of the world.


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Weasel
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 01:49 PM

A mate of mine used to say - if things go wrong in the performance, ask yourself this question - "How many people died as a result of your bad playing" - and if the answer is fewer than four, then it doesn't matter.

Cheers,


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 02:03 PM

Another way to cope with stage fright is to start by performing with other musicians of your standard or better - if you can. Even playing in a duo - knowing that there's someone competent to take up the slack if necessary - can have a calming effect by halving the spotlight...


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: GUEST,Peace
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 02:06 PM

GOOD one, Will.


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 02:53 PM

Playing with other good musicians also increases your confidence. Why worry about what a roomful of non-musicians think if you're good enough to play/sing with ______ (insert name of some hotshot you've jammed with)? He doesn't think you suck!


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Deckman
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 03:01 PM

It's kinda funny ... but I have a recurring dream (nightmare?) of being on stage in a "play" and forgetting my lines. bob


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Don Firth
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 03:46 PM

Three vignettes:

I began singing in the early 1950s, and initially with my dozen songs or so, I sang at parties and hoots with no particular problem. There were people there who didn't know any more than I did (along with a powerhouse or two, such as Walt Robertson). No particular stage fright singing stuff like "The Fox" or "The Foggy Foggy Dew" in someone's living room.

Then in 1956, I was staying at a hospital/sanitarium undergoing physical therapy for the effects of polio at an early age. When I was not being physical therapized or hydrotherapized or otherwise generally abused, there was little else to do, so I had my guitar with me, along with a stack of song books and classic guitar manuals, and I spent my spare time practicing and learning songs.

One of the heads of the hospital said that he thought it would be a nice thing if one evening we had some entertainment. Would I be willing to sing for a few people in the dining room? Sure, I said.

When I walked into the dining room with my guitar, I expected maybe a dozen people or so. But what greeted my eyes was that they had pushed all the tables to one side and lined up the chairs audience style. Instead of a small crowd, there were about 250 people there: patients, some with family members with them, and most of the hospital staff.

I nearly shat!!

But committed—and petrified—I did as I had seen Walt Robertson do in informal concerts many times. I sat on a table with my feet propped on a chair and launched into my first song. But I found that my normally strong voice was quavery and my hands shook so badly that I had to abandon my fairly elaborate accompaniment and just strum. I thought was gonna die! But when I miraculously reached the end of the song without falling off the table, the audience burst into enthusiastic applause!!

They weren't going to rush up and lynch me!

So I sang the rest of the program that I had carefully planned out, and by the third song, I was in control and it went swimmingly. I got several encores!

The following day, people would stop my in the hall or drop by my room and tell me how much they enjoyed my singing and asked when I was going to do it again. That evening, sitting at the counter of the drugstore across the street from the hospital, I decided that, initial panic notwithstanding, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. From that point on, I would redouble my efforts and see if I could make a career out of singing.

####

In line with the above, I realized that if I were going to try to make a career out of music, I needed to know more about music than having to get guitar chords out of a song book or needing to have someone else show me what chords to play. Taking some classic guitar lessons had taught me how to read music, but I still didn't know how everything fit together. So I decided to go to the University of Washington School of Music. There was a very messy business about getting into the school because they didn't recognize folk music as a serious study or the guitar as a real musical instrument, but through the help of John Verrall, an enlightened music professor and composer-in-residence, I got a special audition with Dr. Stanley Chappell, the head of the Music School.

After introductions and such, I started with one of the classic guitar pieces I had memorized. Once again, nerves struck. In front of the head of the music school and with my chosen career possibly at stake, my hands shook so badly that I screwed the piece up about five measures in.

Dr. Chappell stopped me, but instead of showing me the door, he said, "Let's talk a bit."

He asked me a lot of questions about my interest in folk music, and about the guitar as both an accompanying and a solo instrument. Then, he said, "One of the reasons that musicians get performance nerves is that, instead of thinking about the music they are to perform, they're worried about what the audience will think of them." He said a lot more, but that was the meat of it. Finally, he asked me to play the piece I had started again, "But think about what the composer is trying to express." This time I got through it okay. Then, Dr. Chappell shook hands with me and told me to consult with Prof. Verrall about what classes I should take. Then he welcomed me into the department.

####

In 1959, I was asked to do a series of half-hour television programs called "Ballads and Books" for KCTS Channel 9, the University's educational channel (now a PBS affiliate). Videotape had recently been developed, but KCTS couldn't yet afford a videotape machine ($50,000 at the time), so the shows would be live.

I was sufficiently nervous before the show started that I had to go down the hall to the men's room to pee about six times before the show started (didn't need to go, of course).

Then the red light on the main camera came on, the floor director pointed at me, and I started the show by playing a classical arrangement of "Greensleeves" with the camera close in on may hands. The camera backed up and Buzz Anderson introduced Patti McLaughlin (whom I had dragooned into doing the show with me) and me, and the show took off from there. Fortunately, that first show went off like clockwork, because I felt like I was held together with spit and duct-tape. Nerves!

Sally Sauerwine, the producer of the show buttonholed me after the show. "It didn't show, but I could tell. You were pretty nervous there, weren't you?"

I fessed up that I had, been, yes.

"Okay, you're probably thinking of the thousands of people who are watching the show, right?"

"Well, yeah, I guess."

"You don't get nervous singing at a party or with a few friends, do you?"

"Uh—no, not really." (Not anymore, anyway.)

"Okay," said Sally, "look at it this way. How many people are usually watching a single television set? One? Two? Maybe half a dozen at the most?"

"Right."

"Okay. So actually your singing for only a small group of people. Sure, they may add up to thousands, but you're singing for them just a couple at a time. Try this. Think of a friend or two who are watching and sing the show to them."

Light bulb!!

"Give it a try," said Sally. "By the third show, you'll be an old hand at this!"

And you can expand on this idea. One evening in the summer of 1963, in front of the Horiuchi Mural at the Seattle Center, I sang for an audience of (police estimate) 6,000 people. No sweat! There may have been 6,000 people there, but I was singing to them one at a time!

####

Great stuff. Do I still get nervous? No, not exactly. Certainly not debilitatingly nervous. I do get keyed up before a performance, but that manifests itself in being eager to get started.

Have I screwed up while performing? Oh, yeah!! But I generally managed to make a joke of it, get a laugh from the audience, and still, nobody's lynched me.

I think I had some darned good advice early on. I hope this helps!

Good luck!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Anne Lister
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 03:58 PM

A lot of us are saying the same thing. But one word of caution - I phrased my advice the way I did for a very good reason. If anyone says "don't think of a big red bus" - guess what? So "don't think about yourself" is probably not the way to go, in terms of remembering what we're saying. "Think about the music and how much you love it" or "Think about the audience and how much you want them to love the songs you love" will probably work better.

Working with someone else is good because you can deflect your own attention to how they're doing. When I've worked with other performers there's generally a lot of banter, and the whole purpose of that is to take our attention off our own nerves.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 04:13 PM

"Think about the audience and how much you want them to love the songs you love"
I've always though that the object of the exercise is to think about the song, so that the listener can think about it with you.
Tension, technique, voice production.... all the technicalities of singing are preparation for giving voice - if you have to think about yourself, your listener, big red buses..... anything other than the song, you are not singing, you are going through the motions.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: matt milton
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 04:57 PM

Really enjoyed reading your anecdotes Don. It's funny, since I've been singing solo and playing fingerstyle (and worrying incessantly about screwing up!) I've become a much more acute and sensitive listener. I've noticed "mistakes" on albums by musicians who are total virtuosos (Bert Jansch and Davy Graham, to name two). Once or twice while watching Jools Holland (a live UK music show) I've noticed the occasional fluffed chord or off-drum fill or whatever.

It makes you realized that ultimately, when you think you are making a horrendous glaring mistake that everyone is judging you on, the sad truth is that nobody other than boring music nerds will even have noticed!


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: dwditty
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 05:02 PM

I have posted this over and over, and every time it kills the thread which then sinks to the bottom. I, too, hated the feeling that I was making people feel embarassed watching me make a fool of myself trying to perform...if they could only hear me when I am playing at home!

1. Go to www.soloperformer.com. (I have no commercial interest in nor affiliation with the site nor Steve Rapson). There are some good articles there, but I really encourage you to purchase the book Art of the Solo Performer. I can't say enough about this little book - chock full of ideas as well as images of yourself, both now and what you could be. I think the book is about $20. Keep it handy and read it over and over.

2. Play live on-line. I used Paltalk for years (not so much these days - too busy playing out). There are live music rooms on Paltalk where, when it is your turn, you open your mic and play for all to hear - generally 10-25 people or so. (But they can't see you) I always thought of Paltalk as a kind of half-way house for performing musicians. You will definitely be nervous at first, but you will quickly get used to it. In then end, you will have learned how to perform a song.

Keep playing live as much as possible...open mics are a good way. Go to alot of them until you find one that feels comfortable...then keep going. You will soon become a regular, and all will be right.

dw


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Clontarf83
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 01:32 AM

Thanks to all who posted on this---very useful to me. Sorry I did not realize there were other threads on this topic. I have started playing again after a long hiatus, with two musicians.

I think the concept of focusing on the song rather than myself is excellent--I need to bring my passion for well-written meaningful songs on to the stage with me. Practice and playing as frequently as possible is also a tack I will try to use.

Again thanks to all!

Les


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Subject: RE: Stage fright
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 09:25 AM

Best of luck and if yo are ever gigging around here.........


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