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!! Stage Fright !!

GUEST,A Mudcat member who wishes to remain anon. 20 Feb 11 - 08:37 PM
The Fooles Troupe 20 Feb 11 - 08:51 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 20 Feb 11 - 08:53 PM
Bobert 20 Feb 11 - 09:20 PM
Deckman 20 Feb 11 - 11:05 PM
Skivee 20 Feb 11 - 11:57 PM
GUEST,S.T.M. 21 Feb 11 - 03:43 AM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Feb 11 - 04:00 AM
GUEST,ana 21 Feb 11 - 04:21 AM
nutty 21 Feb 11 - 04:45 AM
Will Fly 21 Feb 11 - 05:09 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 21 Feb 11 - 07:03 AM
GUEST,A Mudcat member who wishes to remain anon. 21 Feb 11 - 06:39 PM
Jeri 21 Feb 11 - 07:03 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 21 Feb 11 - 09:19 PM
olddude 21 Feb 11 - 09:57 PM
dwditty 21 Feb 11 - 10:16 PM
Deckman 22 Feb 11 - 12:16 AM
Bert 22 Feb 11 - 03:41 AM
GUEST,kendall 22 Feb 11 - 07:30 AM
dwditty 22 Feb 11 - 07:53 AM
GUEST,Desi C 22 Feb 11 - 08:19 AM
Nick 22 Feb 11 - 08:06 PM
Stower 23 Feb 11 - 04:04 PM
GUEST,DonMeixner 23 Feb 11 - 09:01 PM
KT 24 Feb 11 - 12:29 AM
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Subject: !! Stage Fright !!
From: GUEST,A Mudcat member who wishes to remain anon.
Date: 20 Feb 11 - 08:37 PM

So.........I have always been relatively OK with performing, recently though, I have had a couple of emotional setbacks, totally unrelated to performance. These have totally shattered my confidence....So much so that at present performing is just an ordeal, any suggestions?


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 20 Feb 11 - 08:51 PM

"had a couple of emotional setbacks, totally unrelated to performance. These have totally shattered my confidence"

I'd suggest that trying to deal with the stage fright before trying to deal with the stated known causes is going to be problematic, causing lots of secondary problems, also likely to affect your stage performance skills.

For instance, you could try alcohol to the point where you don;t care, but this is likely to also affect your actual performance skills, and give you more long term problems. Same with other 'happy tabs'...

So seek some help with dealing with the emotional things, is my first recommendation...

The other thing is to get your actual skills up so that you can 'relax and drop back a bit' without losing the performance skill noticeably... :-)


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 20 Feb 11 - 08:53 PM

You are doing the right thing---talking about it. It might be better to talk to an actual therapy person who might have some good insights to give you.

Deep breaths help.


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: Bobert
Date: 20 Feb 11 - 09:20 PM

Okay, here's another perspective...

Performing when you are not prepared musically or emotionally is the wrong thing to do...

Take some time and work on your music... When you get back into your "groove" then try an open mic... If things go well then yer back in business... If not then keep workin' on your music... It's all about the standards you set form yourself from the music end...

I go thru this every year because I don't want to play indoors any more so winter is like time out...

Think of it as a rehab thing...

And as long as you feel good about you product, you'll be fine...

I promise...

B~


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: Deckman
Date: 20 Feb 11 - 11:05 PM

"Stage fright" comes from selfishness. You are thinking of YOURSELF instead of the audience. You have a responsibity to the audience, and to your material, to present the music in the best possible way.

Thinking of YOURSELF is the worst possible way. Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: Skivee
Date: 20 Feb 11 - 11:57 PM

On a few occasions where I've gotten it, my hands got stupid cold. This of course did no good for my playing.
Eventually I realized that warming my hands under water would not only make my playing better, but made my hands feel better too.
Use this if it's helpful.


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: GUEST,S.T.M.
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 03:43 AM

Deckman, I think that is very unhelpful and ignorant advice.

We could argue that everything we do is egoist, but it really isn't helpful in overcoming the problem.

To the OP, you don't mention in what way you perform- do you mean at a singaround? or an open mic? voluntary audience based gigs? or paid audience paid gigs?


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 04:00 AM

I appreciate what Deckman says in principle - you must be an extrovert to perform in public, not an introvert. You must project out to communicate with others, not focus inward. AS I said, you need to deal with the emotional trauma before you can let go again,and start projecting outwards once more.


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: GUEST,ana
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 04:21 AM

Yip - I agree with almost everyone so far (lots of musicians are actually introverts, and quite shy or socially awkward). To sing in front of others means having to yield to your vulnerability. If you are in a stable 'good space' you can feel safe - if not, then it's more scary and your ability to honour the music/audience is compromised - your ego or sense of self gets in the way. Why put yourself through it?! (or your audience) Just give yourself some time out and enjoy making music at home. It's a therapy in itself.


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: nutty
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 04:45 AM

Be Prepared

Spend time polishing your performence so that it becomes second nature.

Don't try to be clever or take risks.

This may mean changing keys - altering pitch - cutting out flashy bits on an instrument.

Aim at producing a solid, competent performance that you can and the audience can enjoy and you will slowly build back to the performer you were.

Finally and most importantly - dont be hypercritical. Mistakes you know you have made are often totally missed by an audience.

Hope this helps


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 05:09 AM

Sudden stage fright is not uncommon - even in experienced performers. Actors like Olivier and Ian Holm found it impossible to perform on stage for some years until they managed to overcome it. You'll recall that Stephen Fry left a London production abruptly - and was the subject of some nastiness in the press until he revealed, much later, that he suffered from periodic bouts of depression.

These are professional performers, whose career was affected. You don't say whether you're an amateur of a professional. If the latter, then professional counselling/advice is absolutely important. If you're not a professional performer, then you're under no pressure to perform until you've managed to overcome, or at least cope with, being in the performing spotlight.

I think even an amateur psychologist - and I'm not even an amateur - would say that you should deal somehow with the "emotional setbacks". Which, of course, may not be at all easy. Even without the wish to perform, such things cast shadows over your life, and you need to try and dispel the shadows. I do hope you can.


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 07:03 AM

Ken Nicol wrote a thesis on stagefright as part of his masters degree. Ken (if you don't know) is a very good guitarist and having worked in most premier folk bands (the Albions, Steeleye Span) is now working with Ashley Hutchings and does a duo/concert thing with the comedian Phil Cool. maybe Ken has some ideas for articles and books you can look at, to read about your problem. Here is Ken's site. He is a nice man:-

http://www.kennicol.co.uk/

Shortly after my mother died. I became prey to panic attacks. Reading about it and realising that it was a trick my mind was playing on me was a big step in getting better for me.


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: GUEST,A Mudcat member who wishes to remain anon.
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 06:39 PM

Thank you for your responses, I am not going to say whether I am a pro or amateur, nor whether I play or sing.....or perhaps both! This may well make it obvious for some to recognise me - and Id rather not reveal that.
The emotional setbacks have been adressed, and resolved, but I cannot believe how shattered my confidence is! I am trying the small steps approach, I have thought about hypnosis, has anyone tried it?
Deckman, I am not generally a selfish person, nor do I totally agree with your comment, on the contrary, it is exactly that desire to present the music in the best possible way that made me ask. I know I have the ability, I know I can - and have many, many times given excellent, solid and audience pleasing performances, but recently, it has been an ordeal rather than a performance, some may not have noticed the difference, but I have, and I would like to feel comfortable performing again!
I am grateful for all your comments, thank you.


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: Jeri
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 07:03 PM

Calling you selfish is a pretty clear sign the Deckman does not get it. Guilt never helps.

If you're a pro, I don't know that I could be of much help. You're in a job you don't enjoy and you'd have to re-kindle the joy you used to feel in order to want to keep performing.

If you're an amateur, the only way to get over fear of anything is by doing it. Prepare as best you can. Learn your material and be aware that you want people to enjoy your music. People want to enjoy your singing. It's not just you standing up in front of them, all alone. A performance is a team event--you're the leader. Your audience WANT to have a good time, they WANT you to succeed, and they don't expect you to be perfect.

The audience is your support, and you will feel wonderful when you have them with you. It sounds like you've been there before though, so you know. It also sounds like you're still performing even though it's "an ordeal". If you keep doing it, you'll get over the stage fright or decide you don't want to perform. If your "emotional setbacks" have caused you to have stage fright, there IS some connection. Relationships, even performer:audience ones are never only one person's responsibility. Trust them a little bit.


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 09:19 PM

Perhaps the thing to do is address it, head on. Get a piece of paper and write down a list of the individual acts that you have to perform in order to make up your 'act', and put it on the road.

Leave free the things you enjoyed doing. Write a cross next to the things you felt comfortable doing. Two crosses next to the part where your anxiety started rising. Three crosses next to the plain intolerable parts.

then think your way through it. Is there anyway to minimise the power of the shit bits. Is there anyway you can maximise the good bits - so they are like a life raft you are swimming towards in the evening.

How many people would notice if you did an evening of the good bits. Perhaps its gods way of telling you to change your act, perform more to your strengths. The audience generally pick up on the fact that you feel relaxed and are playing well within your capabilities, and the feeling that you know what you're doing.

I don't know if this makes sense to you, or is helpful. i hope so. Feel free to e-mail me if you need to talk about it more privately. goole bigalwhittle and my name and e-mail come up on the contact details page.


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: olddude
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 09:57 PM

Holy Cow after being away from performing anywhere for nearly 20 years I was incredibly nervous ... wow .. I asked the same question about 4 years ago. It gets better for sure. Now I just smile and relax and play but boy do I understand where you come from. YOU just don't want to disappoint anyone, so you worry about it and that worry affects your performance. What does work is knowing the songs that you play so well that it is like breathing, then say to yourself. I am playing for me ... just me .. cause I love this song ... then people will get a personal and moving experience because you are playing from your heart. visualize you sitting alone on your couch, playing a song you love ... it works for me


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: dwditty
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 10:16 PM

Actually, while I pretty much agree with Deckman's comments, I will point out that, as is often the case, he forgot to take his sensitivity pill this morning. For more on this subject, and and a much kiner presentation, I recommend The Art of the Solo Performer by Steve Rapson - www.soloperformer.com.

dw


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: Deckman
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 12:16 AM

Well, I seem to have ticked several folks off with my statement that "selfishness" (thinking of yourself) is the root cause of stage fright. That's O.K. This thread might lead to a healthy discussion ... I might even learn something!

I'm serious when I say that my obligation, as a performer, is to present this wonderful material in a manner that will prick the interest of the audience. I strive to drive folks to the library to research these wonderful ballads. I hope to interest the younger folks in the rich heritage of our folk music.

Just yesterday, at a public concert in Everett, Washington, I went out of my way to personally introduce a young girl from the audience to the seasoned performer. Tania Opland went out of her way to spend time with this person, talked to her about her love and drive of folk music. Perhaps in years to come, this young person's exposure to folk music will result in another generation of folk performers.

If Tania Opland, was frozen by "stage fright", she would not have been capable of responding to this person's questions.

That's what I'm talking about ... don't get "frozen" to where you can't present your material well, or encourage others to share and enjoy our treasure.

Pretty simple ... really. bob nelson


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: Bert
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 03:41 AM

Keep at it. Practice helps.

Remember, when you step on that stage "YOU ARE THE GREATEST" people have come to hear you perform because they like you, you are good.
Not because you never make mistakes; everyone makes mistakes. If you goof up on stage, laugh and carry on, your audience will love you more.

And don't ever forget that "YOU ARE THE GREATEST". So go out there and enjoy yourself.


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 07:30 AM

Jasha Heifetz was convinced that people came not to hear him play but to watch him screw up. That same attitude drove Judy Garland to drugs.

When I first started performing I got so nervous my shoes wouldn't stay tied. My heart would pound and I thought people could hear it. I nearly gave up performing, then one day something happend that I still can't explain. It suddenly came to me that what I do is not mine. It is given to me only to pass along to others, and I am not responsible for it. That took a hell of a load off my shoulders.

Now, I don't get nervous at all unless I have not prepared. I once told my friend, Gordon that I never practice, and he said, "It shows."
He was right.


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: dwditty
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 07:53 AM

To expand on Deckman's point, at least from my point of view:

It is ego that drives us to even get to the point of performing - getting up in front of an audience and talking is daunting enough for most - singing should be out of the question, no? Yet something drives us to practice our song(s) to the point where we can get out there and show the world what we can - ego. Come on...admit it...it does feel good.

Ironically, it is the same ego that causes us to worry, sometimes to the point of stage fright. "What if I screw up?" "What if they don't like me?" To think that an entire room full of people have nothing better to do than to spend all the effort you think they will to judge your good or bad performance is...well, a manifestation of one's ego.

Performing, to me, is way more about the audience than the performer. Somebody much smarter than me observed: A good performer walks on stage, looks out, and thinks, "Here I am!" A great performer walks on stage, looks out, and thinks, "There you are!" It is often pretty easy to tell which is which.

dw


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 08:19 AM

You have my sympathy, I gave up music in the early 80's due to stage Fright. 4 years ago I decided I had to try beat it and returned to the folk scene. I'd studied Psychology and become a counsellor in the intervening years and realised I justr had practise what I preach. Sudden fear or panic inevitable produces avoidance of the situation that caused it. But what you actually fear is the feeling of fear, but because it hapened in a certain situation e.g performing, that now becomes what you avoid. Fact is it has nothing to do with the sutuation but things in your life which manifest themselves in stressful situations such as public appearances. I realised I just had to face those situations, I decided taking up an instrument might help, guitar in my case. A prop to lean on if you liked. In the first year I still 'died' on stage badly at least 6 times, but partly through encouragement from other performers, and having asked every other performer "do you get nervous" and all answered YES! plus grim determination, I have 4 years later, and co run a successful Folk Club.
I also found vocal excercises helped as It controlled my breathing, and self hypnosis, hypnotherapy can help. Do I still get nervous? yep 90% of the time, but now I know it's perfectly normal and now I control it not it controlling me. Persevere and good luck


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: Nick
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 08:06 PM

Can you remember what you enjoyed about performing and what that felt like? And what other people genuinely enjoyed about what you gave them and what that felt like?


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: Stower
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 04:04 PM

To the OP, I was in your position the year before last - a huge emotional setback unrelated to performing meant I was having terrible stagefright. During performances, in my mind's eye I was putting the instrument away halfway through a set or a song and going home, as I just wanted to be alone. In reality, I didn't do that and held firm. When I see photos of myself during that period I can see straight away that I 'wasn't right'. And yet, perhaps this is my own self-awareness that others cannot have and so didn't notice, but no one ever made a comment during that period - perhaps I was just surrounded by people who cared about me (in some cases this is no doubt true and I count myself lucky). I have tried and tested methods for dealing with stage nerves and none of them worked during this time. But I kept getting up and I kept going on and I kept performing. I didn't give in to the voice in my head that told me to stop and that, in the end, is what kept me going and got me through it.

So all I can say, from my own experience, is that it *will* pass, get better, go away. Keep getting up there, keep playing, keep up the habit, and the habitual playing and refusal to listen to those nerves and negative voices is what got me through. I hope it will be the same for you. That, and someone completely unrelated to the folk world to talk to.

I wish you all the very, very best. And if you want someone to talk to who knows something of what this is like as you work your way through this, then feel free to PM me.

Stower.


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 23 Feb 11 - 09:01 PM

I think everyone has the solution that works for stage fright. But it is stage freight based on their own experience. For me it is always, find the friendly face in the audience and perform for that person, then the person sitting next to them and so on until I am performing for the room.

It also helps me if I meet people in the audience while I am setting up and if I am using a PA have them around for the mic checks. I am sure I can sort out the psychobabble as to why this works for me but it's late and I have silver to polish.

My sympathies, I won't wish you luck as this will pass.

Don


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Subject: RE: !! Stage Fright !!
From: KT
Date: 24 Feb 11 - 12:29 AM

I agree with those who've said this will pass. Sounds like you may still be reeling from the punch of the emotional setbacks you mentioned in your first post. Once that settles down a bit, I think your confidence in performing will return. Try not to fear the fear. Know that you can do this, love the folks for whom you're performing, and it'll come back to you. In the meantime, be gentle with yourself.   Wishing you the best.   KT


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