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Performance nerves

GUEST,Banjovey 07 Aug 09 - 03:00 AM
stallion 07 Aug 09 - 03:26 AM
stallion 07 Aug 09 - 03:33 AM
Dave Illingworth 07 Aug 09 - 03:35 AM
Acorn4 07 Aug 09 - 03:59 AM
Dave Sutherland 07 Aug 09 - 04:09 AM
Will Fly 07 Aug 09 - 04:19 AM
Valmai Goodyear 07 Aug 09 - 04:33 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Aug 09 - 04:38 AM
Hamish 07 Aug 09 - 05:02 AM
Willa 07 Aug 09 - 05:11 AM
Valmai Goodyear 07 Aug 09 - 06:22 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Aug 09 - 06:33 AM
Hamish 07 Aug 09 - 07:06 AM
treewind 07 Aug 09 - 07:06 AM
Hamish 07 Aug 09 - 07:14 AM
Bobert 07 Aug 09 - 07:15 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Aug 09 - 02:32 PM
Richard Spencer 09 Aug 09 - 12:09 PM
Leadfingers 09 Aug 09 - 12:39 PM
Waddon Pete 09 Aug 09 - 01:10 PM
Aeola 09 Aug 09 - 01:37 PM
SPB-Cooperator 09 Aug 09 - 04:52 PM
Stower 09 Aug 09 - 05:14 PM
My guru always said 10 Aug 09 - 07:39 AM
dwditty 10 Aug 09 - 07:50 AM
Severn 10 Aug 09 - 09:50 AM
Kosmo 10 Aug 09 - 10:47 AM
GUEST,Strummin Steve 10 Aug 09 - 12:59 PM
Valmai Goodyear 11 Aug 09 - 05:21 AM
Marje 11 Aug 09 - 09:54 AM
Midchuck 11 Aug 09 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,MtheGM 11 Aug 09 - 10:33 AM
Severn 11 Aug 09 - 12:15 PM
Will Fly 11 Aug 09 - 02:11 PM
Seamus Kennedy 11 Aug 09 - 02:11 PM
GUEST,Strummin Steve 11 Aug 09 - 03:57 PM
Suegorgeous 12 Aug 09 - 08:40 PM
Valmai Goodyear 13 Aug 09 - 02:53 AM
Paul Davenport 13 Aug 09 - 03:12 AM
Valmai Goodyear 13 Aug 09 - 03:58 AM
Suegorgeous 13 Aug 09 - 05:13 AM
Suegorgeous 13 Aug 09 - 05:15 AM
Bernard 13 Aug 09 - 05:55 AM
matt milton 13 Aug 09 - 06:08 AM
the lemonade lady 13 Aug 09 - 10:18 AM
Marje 13 Aug 09 - 11:39 AM
stallion 14 Aug 09 - 04:11 AM
the lemonade lady 14 Aug 09 - 05:04 PM
scouse 14 Aug 09 - 05:17 PM
Suegorgeous 18 Aug 09 - 06:37 PM
Herga Kitty 18 Aug 09 - 06:47 PM
GUEST,Fantum 19 Aug 09 - 08:47 AM
Banjovey 21 Aug 09 - 04:48 AM
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Subject: Performance nerves
From: GUEST,Banjovey
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 03:00 AM

Does anyone know of ways to deal with performance nerves? I am thinking about workshops or other settings where people can address this issue, in UK and preferably in SE England.
Thanks


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: stallion
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 03:26 AM

2 pints of 4% beer, no more no less!


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: stallion
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 03:33 AM

Oh be well rehearsed so you can do it in your sleep then although your knees might go to jelly and you might feel sick at least what comes out is ok and you get to enjoy it. the nearest thing I can compare it with was going off a 10 metre diving board, when I got up and looked down it was awful, but everyone in the pool started clapping so I had to go, so feeling like sh*t i launched myself and could hear the applause on the way down, when I got out of the pool I thought, pah easy, went up again and looked over, still as sick!


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Dave Illingworth
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 03:35 AM

The singer Elaine Samuels (of the group Kindred Spirit) used to do workshops on performing, which no doubt included the nerves issue.
Not sure if she still does them, but you could try googling her.

Having been involved on and off in "roots" and jazz music since the 1950s skiffle era, I find it doesn't get easier for me. I am afraid I am of the old school and find alcohol the best remedy, but I realise that is not ideal and certainly does not suit everybody.
Also, some say alcohol is not good for the singing voice - rather depends on whst style of singer you are though, I think.

One good tip is getting to the gig in plenty of time. Rushing can make you even more nervous. Try and go through some stuff before you leave and make sure instruments are in tune - even though you know you will have to check them again at gig. Best doing the latter before anyone else arrives, if possible, or find a quiet room, bar or whatever away from the performance area.
Going outside and doing some deep breathing is also good.
When I've tuned up I like to sit quietly away from the performance area and do a crossword or something. I've had bad nervous attacks prior to solo gigs a long way from home - remedy for that is a phone-call to my good lady.
Take no notice of other performers tuning up and playing flashy stuff
to warm up. If you are nervous, that can demoralise you, so good to find your own quiet space - and tell yourself flashy playing ain't everything.....

Must be lots more - and better - advice from other Mudcatters.


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Acorn4
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 03:59 AM

I play guitar and sing regularly and don't suffer from nerves much these days, but have recently been learning the accordion. I tried to play it in public for the first time and found myself completely unable to play what I could do with ease at home.

I think the only answer is to keep doing it and hope to get a little better each time. With instrumental music/tunes,etc it can be quite useful to practice in the beer break when people normally just twiddle anyway.


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 04:09 AM

The best remedy? - experience. However if you really care about your performance the nerves will still be there.


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 04:19 AM

I get asked this question quite a lot, particularly from newer players/performers and, oddly enough, have been contemplating organising at least one workshop locally (Sussex) for those who would like help. However, in the meantime...

Stallion's comment about being well-rehearsed is one of the keys to a confident performance. In my experience, it can take several weeks, if not months, to get a song/tune down to the point where you can perform it with no worries. Many people learn the words/notes/chords to the point where they think they do have it down pat - but, actually, they don't. Once the mechanics of getting the structure into your head are done, and you've learned it, it's important to allow a period of rest - say a couple of days - and then see if you can perform it straight off, to a mirror, to a partner, or to a small group, without a single mistake. You may or may not be able to do that. When I'm learning a new song I sing it over and over and over again - in the car, on the bog, in the shower, walking along the street (yes, I was that loony...), everywhere I go. If it's a guitar or other instrumental piece, I'll play it constantly, over and over again, without a break, for day after day - so that it becomes second nature. When it becomes second nature, you can concentrate more on performance and presentation than the worry of knowing the piece. I never use music stands, and I never take books or music or set lists on stage. I make sure they're embedded in my head.

I've been performing quite a long time now, and rarely get nerves, but I still always start a set or a performance with some idle, silly remark or chit-chat - nothing too long or complicated - just to break the ice. A burst of audience laughter relaxes them as well as you and gets your adrenalin flowing. As to quiet periods before a performance, that may also suit you. If I'm doing a spot in a club where there has been joining-in singing, then I make sure I join in too - gets the vocal chords going and some energy generated. I was doing the opening half-hour for a concert in a theatre some weeks ago, and walked in from the wings as the lights dimmed and the audience chatter died. As I came on stage, there was a large round of applause (and ironic cheering from the poor fools in the audience who knew me), so I just sat straight down on the chair with no words and played the first instrumental. That's another option

Having said all that, even hardened professionals can get stage fright. The important thing, should this happen, is to have some pre-worked out coping mechanism or strategy to click in. A joke, a re-start, a change of number...

There's loads more that could be said, but these are just a few tips from me. Others will almost certainly add more!


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 04:33 AM

Aha. Might there be a demand for a Lewes Saturday Folk Club
workshop on the subject?


Valmai


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 04:38 AM

Once you've done the groundwork (Stallion's well rehearsed) most of the 'nerves' problems can be put down to physical tension, A set of good simple relaxation exercises can work wonders and can eventually become second nature.
The simple act of dropping your shoulders (a sure sign of tension) and making sure that you are sitting (or standing) comfortably does the trick for me. Can't remember the last time I was nervous (all the other problems that go with singing and getting old are a different matter)
If you're in the vicinity of Will Fly, jump at the chance - he seems to know what he's talking about.
Elsewhere, Sandra Kerr used to do excellent workshops - N.E. England. Have no idea where Frankie Armstrong is, but she also did them (mainly concentrated on voice production), as did Pam Bishop (who was from
Birmingham but I think moved further north). All these names are from the past and may no longer be relevant.
Good luck,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Hamish
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 05:02 AM

Well, Will's already said it all, so I'll just tell you about an amazing choke I recently saw...

...Lucinda Williams, main stage, Cambridge Folk Festival, five days ago. She comes on stage on her own with an acoustic guitar to rapturous applause. Mumbles some sort of introduction and starts to play. And stops. "I can't do this. I hate photographers". Puts guitar down...

And she's a top pro. So: it happens. Her coping strategy? Abandons that song, brings out the band and carries on.

I understand this is something she makes something of a habit of.

It's not a tactic I particularly commend. Best go with Will's suggestion of being well enough prepared.


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Willa
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 05:11 AM

Frankie is still out there. Went to one of her 'Singing from the soles of the feet' w/shops recently and would recommend it.

http://www.frankiearmstrong.com/diary.html


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 06:22 AM

Thank you, Willa!


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 06:33 AM

Addition,
Hope she doesn't mind my mentioning her, but a member of this forum, Suegorgeous, has been ivolvedin singing workshops and may have some information - or even practical help and advice.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Hamish
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:06 AM

Of course, I should have mentioned there's loads of stuff on my site including "Floorsinging for Beginners - New to singing in folk clubs? This'll tell you how to start. (Also worth checking out if you're experienced, too!)" and "First time nerves? Another spin on starting out." and even "Breathing for (folk) singers. Singing needs good breath control. Here are some ideas."

Enjoy!


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: treewind
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:06 AM

What various people said - Practice.
My favourite definition of the difference between a professional and an amateur: an amateur practices till he can do it right, a professional practices until he can't do it wrong.

That covers several bases: First, if you're well rehearsed, you may feel less nervous. Second, even if that doesn't work, all that practice enables you to put on a good performance running on automatic.

Usually it's only before you go on that's bad - once you start, you forget about nerves and just get on with it.

I get nervous sometimes and not others. I have no idea why - there's no logic to it.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Hamish
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:14 AM

"I get nervous sometimes and not others. I have no idea why - there's no logic to it."

Yes, I'm sure that's true for all of us, to some extent. What all these tricks (see above) help to do is to reduce the incidence and severity of the nerves.

Sometimes a little bit of honest self assessment after a nervous gig will throw up some insight. Like "perhaps starting with the difficult instrumental wasn't such a good idea". Often I look back and ask myself why I put myself under unnecessary pressure. Although it's good to stretch one's bounds, there are times and places...


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Bobert
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:15 AM

Alcohol???

Jus' funnin'...

Just be prepared and if you have the option of playing a song in a difficult manner verses a less difficult manner, pick the easier of the two...

A little nerves ain't a bad thing, either...

Good luck...

B~


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 02:32 PM

Nerves for most of us is a positive. If you haven't got the adrenalin flowing chances are you're gonna fall asleep and your audience too.
You've just got to go for it if you want what's out there, and after a few goes you get to realise those nerves are there to help you give a good performance. They show you care!


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Richard Spencer
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 12:09 PM

I take the point about some nervous tension helping the performance, but if you get to the stage when you can scarcely breathe you are not going to get a song out effectively. I have been afflicted by this regularly, but far from always, over my 35 years singing folk in public - and it is not easy to deal with. Experience in my case certainly did not help. At times I have completely given up singing, and I hate that. Sarah Morgan does an excellent workshop on overcoming nerves - I strongly recommend this if you get the chance.
Hope you find an answer
Richard


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 12:39 PM

I have only been appearing in public since 1958 , and still get nervous , especially with a new song or tune ! Even in my local club , if I do a somg for the first time in public I usually com,e off shaking like a leaf !
An old friend always reckoned that the first song at a gig was so hard it was easier to start with the second one .


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 01:10 PM

Ah yes, Leadfingers. Happens like that to me too! I always start a gig with songs that I know very well indeed, and if I have a new one, slip it in surrounded by experienced songs that can hold its hand!

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Aeola
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 01:37 PM

Ah ! Bless you all! Everything said so far applies. Over the years I gave a few lectures to interested people, but it was not a basic requirement of my job, however, because I knew my subject I was able to do it with a bit of success. Years later I started going to Folk Clubs and naturally became involved and gave a performance, albeit to only 20/30 people, and I was a bag of nerves. So, yes, know your subject as well as possible!!!


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 04:52 PM

I have no problems singing ( maybe the audience do ), or with whistle playing unless I forget to breath. But my fingers freeze/lock if I try to play mandolin unless I am playing along with someone, or at home on my own.


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Stower
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 05:14 PM

Two things have helped me.

Some years ago I started practising (voice and guitar or voice and lute or one of those three alone) with my eyes shut, as a way of focussing on the performance piece. I found it really helped. Then, when in public, I closed my eyes and found myself in the same focussed mental space as when practising, so the focus is on the song or tune, not on the audience.

One day, many years ago, when waiting nervously backstage at a festival, I suddenly realised that my nerves were simply adrenaline, the same thing that gives the energy for a good performance. So I just decided to focus that energy positively on performing well, instead of negatively on wondering what could go wrong.

Hope this helps.


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: My guru always said
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 07:39 AM

That adrenaline/positive energy thought is a good one Stower!

I've probably posted this somewhere before, but my first several times of performing brought on a needle-sharp pain in my head from the very first note which stayed all through the song (which I finished each time) and for several hours afterwards. I also had to rush to the loo & sing down the pan straight after the song each time too. That was definitely stress/nerves & wore off thankfully!


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: dwditty
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 07:50 AM

My first thought is that standing in front of a group of people and singing/playing is not a "natural" situation in which to place one's self, so nerves are certainly going to be a factor for all but a very few. Repeated exposure to this circumstance is a must.

Secondly, I tell myself that extreme nervousness is a cenceited, self-centered, and inappropriate response to the situauation. "What if I screw up and look like a fool?" What if they don'e like ME?" etc. Remember, when you perform, your goal is, hopefully, to entertain the audience. With this in mind, performing is all about THEM...not YOU."

Third, make time to perform in a less stressful environment. Play live on-line (Paltalk, Second Life - although that latter is not for the technically squeamish!). Better yet, volunteer to play at nursing homes, health care facilities, and other places - alot.

Finally, go immediately to www.soloperformer.com and read the advice there. I highly recommend the book - Art of the Solo Performer - which you can get there or on Amazon, etc. (I am in no way affiliated nor do I profit one bit in any way from the site, the book, etc.)

Good Luck.

dw


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Severn
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 09:50 AM

The "FDR principle" plays into things in a pub sing situation. "Nothing to fear but fear itself". If you focus on enjoying what you are doing, even with the nerves, the audience stays with you through mistakes, senior moments and key changes into something more comfortable. If you let fear take over, the audience can sense it, much like a hostile dog can, or a horse can with an inexperienced rider on its back. Remember you're telling prople a story and find enjoyment in the telling. And remember that telling them a story or singing a song they're NOT familliar with may put you out there working without a net, but the fun in telling and the results when it's enjoyed are well worth the risks taken and may even establish a bit of identity.

Have a few stock phrases ready like 'OK, let's take it again from the top" "Let me take it up (or down) a notch" or just "Hmmmm...modulate, modulate...." or for some people, "It'll come to me, I WROTE it!" that in case of in-flight repairs can assure the audience (and yourself) that the problem is being dealt with in a timely manner and can keep away panic and reduce the chance of losing the listeners and help in regaining momentum.

If it's going around the room and you only have one song to sing, sometimes I find it good to sing to myself(softly) the third and fourth lines of a verse right beforehand, knowing that the highest (and occaisionally killer) note in the song usually occurs in that third line and setting that and making sure you have it, you can start off in the right key. Often the potential ambushes come a bit into the song.

Keep the intros down to a manageable length. If they like the song, they will come to you later to get extra details of source, context or story filled in, giving you a chance to make future friends and even get needed feedback without asking for it.

Not to say I still don't forget to do these things from time to time, as I'm still fairly new at the game and it's an ongoing process, but they seem to work when I DO do them. Some lessons hard learned and in some cases still being learned. I hope I've since satisfied some of you who sat there while I've tried to learn them....


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Kosmo
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 10:47 AM

I think these conquer my nerves fairly well.

A decent 12 year single malt whisky or two.

A laugh at someone elses expense. (terrible I know)

A quick jump up and down.

A hug.

A vivid imagination (so the audience are naked or soemething embarassing)

And just rehearse, the worst thing for nerves is making a mistake and then bottling completely. I used to play with an oversized hat pulled down over my eyes because I was nervous, (I play the flute n sing) and if I made a mistake I'd get upset and stop playing, it was awful, but now, I take a deep breathe smile and it usually goes well.

I still make awful mistakes sometimes, but it helps having a great band around you.


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: GUEST,Strummin Steve
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 12:59 PM

I go at it from the basis of what's the worst that can happen. If you did freeze or get something seriously wrong it's not life threatening is it? Ok you may be a little self conscience but the more you play the less uptight you'll be. I watch performers who appear concerned they might get a lyric wrong, so out come the lyrics,the A4 sheets. Your giving a performance of a tune/instrumental and audiences generally are on the side of the performer and appreciate it takes some ***** to get up there and do it. Even the best fluff a chord,forget lyrics.Yes you should be keyed up for it,that's natural.. but my personal mechanism is to keep it in perspective. Steve


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 05:21 AM

Following Willa's very helpful post above, I'm delighted to say that we've just booked Frankie Armstrong to give an all-day singing workshop and evening performance at the Lewes Saturday Folk Club on Saturday 13th. November 2010 (yes, that's right, 2010).

One of the subjects Frankie will cover is performance skills, including nerves.

Valmai


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Marje
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 09:54 AM

Just a few comments on nerves:

1. On the whole, nervousness doesn't show as much as you think. This is closely linked to 2 below:
2. Almost everyone feels nerves, at least just before they start and until they get going. And the 3rd point follows from this:
3. Nervousness can be a form of vanity. Bear in mind that you're not any more important than anyone else in the room (including the audience), and also that it's the song that matters, not you. Don't allow yourself to wallow in thoughts like "Oh look at all these people gazing at me, I want the floor to swallow me, why do I do this?" Instead, think positive thoughts like, "I've got this great song that I'm going to share with these friendly people, who are all on my side. I want to help them enjoy it, so I'm going to enjoy it too."
4. For what it's worth: the worst performers I can think of show no sign of nerves. They're oblivious to the sound they make, the sense of the words, the nuances of the tune, and the yawns of the audience, because they don't really care about any of it. On the other hand, people who are visibly (and audibly)nervous are often great communicators of the song despite the nerves. So the fact that you're worried about it means you needn't be worried about it, if you see what I mean.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Midchuck
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 10:19 AM

Actually, in the area of folk music, the correct name for this problem is....wait for it....Pre-minstrel tension.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: GUEST,MtheGM
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 10:33 AM

Peter - you should be BARD for such a remark!


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Severn
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 12:15 PM

Peter,

Except in December, when Noel Cowardice and Santa-Claustrophobia take over....


And at the shanty sings (to the tune of "The Boatman"):

"Fear of water
Of whores and whalers......"


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 02:11 PM

Marje:
For what it's worth: the worst performers I can think of show no sign of nerves. They're oblivious to the sound they make, the sense of the words, the nuances of the tune, and the yawns of the audience, because they don't really care about any of it. On the other hand, people who are visibly (and audibly)nervous are often great communicators of the song despite the nerves.

Well, with respect to your comments, Marje, I think this is a bit of a mixed bag. I've seen some excruciating performances from very nervous, totally unprepared floor singers - and similarly excruciating performances from those "nerveless" performers you so eloquently describe (and I've seen them too). The best performers, in my humble view, know their material thoroughly, sing and play within their competence, and are confident enough to be able to communicate with the audience and to pick up on feedback from the audience. I they're talented as well - a bonus!


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 02:11 PM

Just like Leadfingers up there, I've been performing for a long time, and the only time I get nervous is when I'm doing a new song for the first time in public. After that it's no problem.

However, I have a variant on the performing nerves thing.

The recording studio - when the red light and the mic are on, I'll get a case of the fumble fingers on my instruments (not the vocals) and require several takes no matter how well I know the tunes.
Even when it's just me and the recording engineer.
Thank heaven for punch-ins!

Seamus


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: GUEST,Strummin Steve
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 03:57 PM

I like what Will Fry (above) said. Know your material well and communicate,that helps a lot from both performer and audience perspective. It's also possible for an audience to get nervous watching a performer too! Steve


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 08:40 PM

Thanks Jim. Finally found time to reply!

I don't know of any workshops just on the nerves issue, but many workshops for singers often do address the subject as part of the workshop. At these, I've found it very helpful to hear new ideas for dealing with it, then see which ideas work for me - different things work for different people - and also just to air the topic with others who've gone through similar experiences. Just knowing that even very experienced and well-known performers still get nerves, for example, has helped me immensely.

The best workshops for really getting to grips with it are ones that include master classes as a way of working, ie getting up and performing a song solo in front of the teacher and your peers, and to receive feedback. Hard and intense, but a great learning tool. Some workshops I've been on that do this are: Folk Southwest Easter School, Maddy Prior's courses at Stones Barn, Baring-Gould Song School, and Counterparts (Helen Porter). You can google these, or I can give links if you like.

You can only really fully address performance nerves by continuing to perform, nerves and all, and going through it time after time, and gradually discover through this which things help you. After all, only YOU can find ways to deal with your own nerves, no one else. Keep singing at folk clubs, open mics, wherever you can. Sometimes, especially at first, it will be excruciating - but no matter how badly you felt you did, you MUST make yourself get up and do it again. It will get easier, and you'll learn how to better manage the fear - and that's the best you can do. Nerves don't get "conquered" and thus disappear, it doesn't work like that. It's learning how to channel and work with them that's important.

Also, learn how to sing properly, using the diaphragm, which will enable you to sing well even with the thumping heart and butterflies. I've just started to be able to do this, and it's a revelation to discover that my nerves don't always have to destroy my performance.

Hope this helps.

Sue


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 02:53 AM

It's also worth remembering that on the other side of the pain barrier there is sometimes an extraordinary state to be found where the concentration of the listeners and performers is focussed on the music and everyone's senses are heightened. There is no sense of self for listener or performer because the music occupies all the available space. It doesn't always happen, but when it does it's almost a spiritual experience. These words are clumsy and pretentious.

Maybe this comes about when the adrenaline which otherwise produces stage fright is channelled into the performance.

Valmai


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 03:12 AM

One thing that's been touched on, but not mentioned specifically is that you should choose your materal with great care. It doesn't matter how nervous you are, if you have an absolute conviction of the validity of the song and/or its message then you're going to be much more successful in performance. I once heard a slightly dodgy performance of 'King James and the Tinker' - the song sang itself and the audience loved it, laughing in the appropriate places. The singer had got it dead right.


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 03:58 AM

True. Some technically complex and perfect performances can be clinically dead, too.

Valmai


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 05:13 AM

Valmai - spot on! those are the extraordinary moments that make it all worthwhile - how I wish I knew how I got there!

Actually - one way you get there, as Paul says, is via your material. Forgot to say - what's also worked for me, is only choosing to sing songs I love or really connect with (I've become really stubborn about that!). Then, when the nerves are taking hold, remind yourself why you are singing the song in the first place and really focus on the song itself - live the words as you sing them, enjoy the melody, become the character, etc. Bring it to life, and the audience will love it too (or at least, love that you're loving it!).


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 05:15 AM

To add to the list of workshops using the masterclass - Sandra Kerr also often works this way in her workshops at Farncombe (Oxon).


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Bernard
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 05:55 AM

Of course, there is the 'catch 22' for inexperienced performers... the nerves are bad because of lack of experience, but how can you gain the experience to combat the nerves...!

Some are luckier than others, because they learn to cope fairly quickly. I'm fairly sure that I learned to combat nerves by being part of a trio in the early days, and only went solo after I'd quite a few gigs under my belt. That was forty years ago...!!

It's a warm feeling when you realise you are immersed in what you are doing, and the audience are totally with you. Choice of material is so important - I really hate it when a performer is so obviously 'doing' songs from a list rather than singing from the heart. Sincerity is so important, as an audience sees straight through an insincere performance.

If you can find a 'daft' song that's also quite clever, it can be a useful icebreaker, but, as others have already commented, you have to be able to do it without thinking.


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: matt milton
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 06:08 AM

all good advice.

My one tip would be that 2 minutes before you go on, go somewhere like a toilet cubicle where you can sing your favourite song as loud as you can. In fact it doesn't even have to be your favourite song- something ridiculous like You Give Love A Bad Name by Bon Jovi or Don't Stop Me Now by Queen will often do the trick better. Singing the stupidest song you can think of, really loud, will cheer you up and remind you that it is impossible to truly make a fool of yourself.

Similarly note, giving yourself a big round of applause, doing some whooping and cheering works well. that's something a drama teacher once showed me, before a student play.


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 10:18 AM

Just keep going out there and doing it. Go to as many open mics, sessions, clubs etc as you can. The more you can do back to back the easier it becomes. You need nerves tho, when you are too relaxed, that's when the mistakes and loss of memory takes over.

Just my opinion of course

Sal


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Marje
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 11:39 AM

Will Fly - point taken , I didn't mean to suggest that being nervous was a guarantee of a successful performance. Some people are nervous for the very good reason that they know they're not properly prepared for what they're about to attempt. (Sometimes that little voice in your head saying "You shouldn't be doing this!" is worth listening to...)

No, I was just thinking of a floor singer I hear recently who was clearly nervous about singing solo (I'd previously only heard her in a duet with someone else). She did't apologise or make an issue of it, she just remarked that it was a long time since she'd sung by herself. Although the nerves were apparent in her voice, it was also clear that everything else was good and right: she knew the song, she chose a sensible key and tempo, she sang it thoughtfully and with conviction, in a sweet, tuneful voice, and I was sorry when it ended. With more practice and encouragement, she'll be great, so I hope her nerves won't stop her from doing it again.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: stallion
Date: 14 Aug 09 - 04:11 AM

any way to carry on with the diving analogy, eventually i got used to looking down over the edge of the board then there was only the fear of doing a belly flop, that never went away but it certainly focused my brain on the technical aspects of diving!


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 14 Aug 09 - 05:04 PM

here's an old thread about the same subject.

Sal


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: scouse
Date: 14 Aug 09 - 05:17 PM

Beware Of saying you have no nerves and nothing bothers you on stage!! Neils Hausgaard said that years ago to Hamish Imlach at the Tonder Festival then went on stage to do his Gig in front of a live Tv Audience.. Half way through his act Hamish appeared dancing across the stage (Behind Neils) dressed in a swimming costume a Big Hat belonging to Saul Brody and a Massif pair of Dark Sunglasses.. (A sight to behold,) Neils just didn't manage it!!!! 'Nough Said!!!!
As Aye,
Phil


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 18 Aug 09 - 06:37 PM

And not a peep back from Banjovey! do tell! was any of this useful, or not? did you find a course to do? or did all this fall on deaf ears?


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 18 Aug 09 - 06:47 PM

Re Richard Spencer's 9 August post, Sarah Morgan ran a very good workshop at Chippenham festival last year on techniques for dealing with nerves and stage fright, and she's a Mudcat member so you can PM Saro for more info.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: GUEST,Fantum
Date: 19 Aug 09 - 08:47 AM

Nerves yes always and everybody has them
quite normal use them to sharpen your performance.
Experience helps but it still happens

Practice a lot first rule.
That is why it shows up so often above all hail to those who say it

If you get the chance practice on an audience wife, friends, kids, the experience works
(My kids reported me for cruelty.)

Try not to get rushed about prior to your performance
Give yourself a minute or two to compose yourself before going on
Deep breathing prior to going on helps
Try and get the voice warmed up sing along with others

Booze - no you have enough on without being fuddled.
Afterwards you can drink to insensibility

An ice breaker is useful a good evening and this is a song by ....and off you go
Keep the intro short first time and that's probably good advice always
The audience is on your side and will forgive you and encourage you.

Take a glass of water with you if you are on any length of time

The Flight of the bumble bee in J augmented might be your party piece but start with something EASY.
40 verse marathons are not recommended
If it's a song the audience knows they will help you out

Try to relax and enjoy the experience the rewards can be great

Persevere

Good luck
Fantum


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Subject: RE: Performance nerves
From: Banjovey
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 04:48 AM

Firstly, let me say thanks for all the responses and sorry for being somewhat tardy in replying.
I was very struck by the number of people who addressed nerves in connection with singing as contrasted with playing an instrument. Many of the points made of course refer to both. I find it particularly difficult when trying to sing and play at the same time, especially when playing fiddle. I've yet to find a successful way of splitting my concentration between the two and when I lose the instrumental bit I have trouble getting back on track.
Perhaps the two most important points I take from the thread are practice and perseverance.
Thank you all for the many suggestions about relaxation, breathing and other practical ways of addressing the issue. I also think there are psychological issues involved concerning one's "right to be a performer" and these are harder to address as they seem to touch on who one is as a person, issues of personal confidence in the world in general etc.
I've yet to find any workshops that might help with some of this though I was pleased to see that Frankie Armstrong will be coming to this area next year.
Once again, thanks for all your thoughts and suggestions.


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