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Gig Preparation

Amergin 01 Oct 13 - 06:26 PM
Herga Kitty 01 Oct 13 - 06:47 PM
Bert 02 Oct 13 - 02:15 AM
banksie 02 Oct 13 - 03:20 AM
Will Fly 02 Oct 13 - 04:13 AM
GUEST,Ted Crum (Steamchicken) 02 Oct 13 - 04:49 AM
Paul Davenport 02 Oct 13 - 04:57 AM
Will Fly 02 Oct 13 - 05:07 AM
Rob Naylor 02 Oct 13 - 06:20 AM
Marje 02 Oct 13 - 12:01 PM
GUEST 02 Oct 13 - 12:39 PM
Richard Bridge 02 Oct 13 - 05:07 PM
NigelParry 02 Oct 13 - 09:32 PM
NigelParry 02 Oct 13 - 09:41 PM
GUEST,Stim 02 Oct 13 - 11:23 PM
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Subject: Gig Preparation
From: Amergin
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 06:26 PM

So tonight I have a reading gig at a place called the Jade Lounge in downtown Portlandia. I have known about this for the last month or so, but finally decided to get things ready. It is a 20 minute set....and I know I have brought way more than I need, including the chapbook....and I tend to time myself the night before to give me a good idea of how much to bring, especially so I don't go over my time.

I put everything off til today, but that is neither here nor there. Usually, I allow myself one beer, before a gig...and maybe one during, if it is in an establishment that serves booze. I have to keep my throat wet after all. Then, I start shaking and tapping my feet...and fingertips, reading and rereading my work...until the time I begin.

Then, my hands shake the whole time I read. However, I do not let it affect my performance, I let my voice shout, or whisper loudly, depending on what the occasion demands.

My question is what rituals do you take before you perform? Do you still have fright after all this time? How do you cover it up?


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Subject: RE: Gig Preparation
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 01 Oct 13 - 06:47 PM

Oh Amergin, at least when you're reading you don't have to remember the words, unlike those of us who sing or recite from memory.

Your post has reminded me of a workshop I attended at Chippenham folk festival, presented by the recently deceased (and much missed) Sarah Morgan, about dealing with stagefright.

We're all frightened before (and mostly during) our performances. It helps to take deep breaths beforehand. Think of the swan swimming across the lake (and never mind the legs paddling underneath).

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Gig Preparation
From: Bert
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 02:15 AM

I am not normally frightened before a gig, but sometimes it will sneak up on me in the middle of a song. The only sure fire cure that I know of is laughter; even if it means stopping and laughing at myself in the middle of a performance.


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Subject: RE: Gig Preparation
From: banksie
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 03:20 AM

I assume that you have performed several times before where it has gone well from your point of view and the performance has been well-received. So you could try one thing that I do find calms the nerves. Just say to yourself something like: `I can do this, I have done this.'

Yes, there will be occasions when it goes belly up - for whatever reason. As Kitty observes, it sounds as though you are reading rather than reciting from memory. But you still know that you CAN do it, so the chances are you probably will. And as Bert suggests, making a joke of it if it does go wrong in some way - for me it is forgetting words - will normally bring people onside.


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Subject: RE: Gig Preparation
From: Will Fly
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 04:13 AM

The only way I know to conquer nerves or stagefright is to practice the repertoire so thoroughly that I could sing and play it backwards, sideways and standing on my head. I used to get nerves in my early performance days - many years ago - and realised that I was nervous because, at heart, I was under-rehearsed. I thought I'd got a tune or song off pat but, in reality, it wasn't a part of me.

Everybody's different, and I can only speak for myself, but I've found that drilling a piece into my head by playing it literally hundreds of times out loud, and also inside my head while doing other things is a must. I've spent a whole day sometimes, just repeating the same thing over and over again - with the odd break of course!

When I was starting out on the guitar, back in the mid-60s, an older musician friend was very keen on what he termed "psycho-cybernetics", by which he meant visualising yourself performing the piece while away from the instrument. Visualise the hands on the fretboard in your head - visualise the notes or the chords or the words on a sheet of music, etc. I've found over time that this improves ones so-called "photographic" memory facility - I really can see the words or chords I've written down - and this helps in performance preparation.

Nothing's perfect, of course, and those senior or not-so-senior moments creep up on us now and then. I never stop if this should happen to me - just play through them and pick up the thread as and when I can.

In your own case, while you're reading through your pieces, forget the audience in front of you - concentrate on the meaning and point of the text to yourself. Make sense of it - enjoy it. Enjoy reading the words and the audience will enjoy you reading them.

Just a thought.


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Subject: RE: Gig Preparation
From: GUEST,Ted Crum (Steamchicken)
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 04:49 AM

Practice, practice, practice!! A very well-known muso once described to me the difference between an enthusiastic amateur and a pro musician. The enthusiastic amateur rehearses a number until he/she gets it right. The pro rehearses the same number until he/she KNOWS they can't do it wrong. Even now after fifty years (my God!) performing, I still get nervous before going on stage, but the fact that all the material we present to the audience is printed on our souls gives me the confidence to launch in knowing it will give value. So don't run through a piece five times, do it fifty times, and one more for luck. It works!


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Subject: RE: Gig Preparation
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 04:57 AM

Will is right - practice is vital but?stage fright is more than being nervous. I had a bizarre situation a couple of weeks ago where my fingers, instead of going automatically to the chord I'd played in the last line of the song, suddenly went 'blank'. I was left high and dry accompanying two singers and nowhere to go. Now I have developed number of strategies to deal with this?because I know its going to happen! There's the first trick - rehearse for stage fright situations! The other certainty on this thread, from my experience is Bert's brilliant observation. Laughter kills stage-fright dead!


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Subject: RE: Gig Preparation
From: Will Fly
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 05:07 AM

That's what I would call a "senior" moment, Paul! :-)

This has also happened to me occasionally, but not through stage fright - I think - but because I've momentarily lost concentration for some reason or other (probably laziness).

One other factor in stage nerves may be the frequency with which one performs. (And I can only say "may" here because everyone is different). Some seasoned performers have told me that they've always suffered from terrible pre-gig nerves, even though they look relaxed during the actual performance. Others are less feverish about it.

I do have a certain tenseness before a big gig, i.e. hundreds of people in the audience, but that can add to the tightness of the performance - we're human, after all. I used to be tenser in earlier days - particularly when performing solo - but playing in duos, trios and bands undoubtedly allows any tension to be shared and diminished.


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Subject: RE: Gig Preparation
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 06:20 AM

Will: The only way I know to conquer nerves or stagefright is to practice the repertoire so thoroughly that I could sing and play it backwards, sideways and standing on my head. I used to get nerves in my early performance days - many years ago - and realised that I was nervous because, at heart, I was under-rehearsed. I thought I'd got a tune or song off pat but, in reality, it wasn't a part of me.

Everybody's different, and I can only speak for myself, but I've found that drilling a piece into my head by playing it literally hundreds of times out loud, and also inside my head while doing other things is a must. I've spent a whole day sometimes, just repeating the same thing over and over again - with the odd break of course!


RIIIIIGHT! NOW I realise that I under-rehearse horribly! Sometimes I only play a piece 30 or 40 times before going "live" with it. See you next month when I promise to be better!!!

I still always get horrible "stage fright" though. It's taken me about a year to get used to playing amplified and singing through a mic at the Axminster Open Mic I go to, but it's only in the last few months that I've been able to get away from STRICT adherence to my "set" and way of doing a song, to ignore mistakes or "ad lib" a bit. Last time I was there I did "Sound of Silence" and there was a noisy crowd in one corner of the room impinging on the song quite badly...when I got to the phrase "people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening" I looked pointedly at that table and raised my voice a bit. It brought the house down. I couldn't have even contemplated doing something like that even *pre-planned* just 6 months ago, so to think of doing it in the middle of a song was a big step forward for me.


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Subject: RE: Gig Preparation
From: Marje
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 12:01 PM

Remind yourself that the nervousness is just a slight excess of the adrenaline you need in order to focus and give your best performance.

And also remind yourself that it's not about you, it's about the material you're presenting (reading, poem, song, tune, whatever) - that's what the audience will be paying attention to, and all you have to do is show it to them. If you, too, can concentrate on the words and the sense of your reading, you may find that you forget to be nervous. And even if you are, it doesn't show anything like as much as you feel it.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Gig Preparation
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 12:39 PM

I think if folk clubs ran informal workshops on this topic and other techniques of presenting songs and performing, they would have more bedroom guitarists and young singers prepared to take a chance on singers nights.


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Subject: RE: Gig Preparation
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 05:07 PM

There is a line to be walked. If it is too mechanical the inspired ad-lib is hard to fit in. I like to ad-lib words.


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Subject: RE: Gig Preparation
From: NigelParry
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 09:32 PM

A few thoughts;

Prepare by rehearsing. Not to the point of being stale (but a live gig usually brings an edge that rehearsal doesn't, so OK there). Tip for musicians; if you are looking at your guitar fingering a lot, you're under rehearsed.

I find rehearsing by playing to an imaginary audience helps get the mental shape right - you are practicing with your 'game face' on. So however you stand / sit / move on stage, do that at practice.

Actually, I sometimes find that a large audience makes me less nervous than a small one, especially when you know people in the audience. Maybe that's just me.

The other thing that gets me all sweaty palmed and shaky is the first bum note I play on guitar (I know this doesn't help, but hey I'm a singer at heart anyway).

Another issue for some is the set list. I know it's tempting to kick off with your latest tune, but a friend told me 'always start with 2 songs you know'. Start your set with rock solid performances and you're often sorted for the whole gig. Maybe that works for reading too.


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Subject: RE: Gig Preparation
From: NigelParry
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 09:41 PM

PS. I don't drink before a gig. And maybe only one during, in the last set. Alcohol may be a disinhibitor but it degrades performance as well so isn't a winning formula for me.

Although I do use a beer as a stage prop sometimes and it tends to....ummm... evaporate.

Afterwards is a different story.


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Subject: RE: Gig Preparation
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 02 Oct 13 - 11:23 PM

It helps me a lot to do the "dress rehearsal"--which, ideally, it to go through the entire show in the performance space, but can be pared down to sound checks and walk throughs of key parts of the performance in a "simulated environment".

It is worth mentioning that in a professional show, even if it appears to be a "solo" act, preparation often involves collaboration with some combination of producers,writers, directors, and instrumental/vocal/performance coaches(not to mention financial backers). The performer may take on some or all of those roles, but it is often very helpful to have critical and creative support...


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