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ncognito
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« on: January 24, 2009, 02:28:28 AM »

Who suffers from stagefright; how do you cope with it.  I, for one, am not an extrovert, and in a small group I'm usaully fine.  On stage, alone, in the blinding spotlight, I occasionally have issues.  Often, I'll play well enough, up to my skill level with maybe a few minor mistakes, but sometimes I will become preoccupied by the fact that I am the object of everyone's attention, panic at times sets in, I actually go blank as to how the song progresses, I'll continue playing, keeping time, but floundering with direction.  It's actually embarrassing and frustrating.  I've tried to soul search to deal with the source of my stagefright, and to identify the cause of it.  More than anything, I feel that lack of confidence and preoccupation with failure are my biggest stumbling blocks.  I tend to fall into the trap of comparing myself to others and how well they have done; it's really a situation where on occasion I become my own worst enemy.  There are two open mics that I go to.  Both are "listening rooms"; people come to play, to listen attentively, to be supportive.  I know that I have something a bit differet to offer, and that when I'm on people genuinely appreciate it.  I feel a certain obligation to give my best, and when stagefright does get the best of me I feel like I let everyone down.  I've tried to learn from past mistakes.  Some lessons I'm still in the process of grasping are: to enjoy what everyone else is giving in terms of their effort whatever their skill level, to dismiss thoughts of failure, to be prepared practicing my material until I've really gotten it down, to try to connect with the audience by revealing myself in an open personal way, and lastly when it's my turn up there to let go and have fun.  It really helps to get this off my chest.  I appreciate the opportunity to share my own little trials and tribulations here; I feel very comfortable sharing my insecurities on this forum and hope that you will add your invaluable insight from your own personal experience.  Thanks. 

        DAVE          
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2009, 06:01:27 AM »

Dave
Gotta feel a little bit better just getting it off your chest.  Know this:  You are not alone.

Some people are natural entertainers who bask in the spotlight and others tend to shy away from it.  I'm in the latter category.   Congratulations on sticking to it even though it is awfully uncomfortable at times.

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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2009, 06:23:57 AM »

Dave,

I share your trepidation.  I have played for years and at least 6 times a year I MC events in my town.
Every time I go in with some EDGE and worry.
That isn't bad, it keeps you sharp...as long as it doesn't induce terror or panic.

I don't want to start a controversy but two things help me cope.
I play for me and hope it is appreciated.  I have forgotten words played car horn sounding chords by accident and every time I laugh and smile.  Not a fake I don't care smile but a "man it is hard to nail it perfect every time smile and nor do I expect to so that was a funny one to me smile".
Anyone I know that expects perfect or nothing is miserable.  But those that allow it to happen and accept what comes often find themselves in that beautiful "in the zone" moment where it just feels so good...perfect or not.

The controversial point, a few rye and cokes settle me down.  Not advocating dependence on substances but it takes some edge off and lets me get in the moment.

Remember this, the audience loves to feel a part of the show...and so when you slip bring them in to it and don't take yourself too serious.  If you act like you are perfect nothing less is acceptable  crying act like another human giving it a go and they will adopt you 


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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2009, 06:54:47 AM »

Wow, great post!

I'm pretty much like you. I feel fine in a jam with a few people hanging around and listening, but getting up on stage by myself is a real challenge for me.  I don't sing - tried it, sucked hard, and have a lot more fun just playing guitar, so I pretty much gave up on singing.  Some people I jam with try to encourage me to sing, but it is something that I don't feel comfortable with - besides, as I mentioned, I suck.  But you know what ... when you get off stage and things went pretty well (or better), it is such a rush.  It's like every nerve is alive.  If I came off stage and didn't feel that I did all that great, I pick myself to pieces thinking about every mistake I made.  At the jam I go to, it's a lot of fun without the analyzing.  On stage by myself it's a swim or drown feeling - either I did good, or I crashed.  Maybe I subconsciously compare myself to others at an open mic and I need to just relax and have fun like I do in my living room rather than sweating buckets.

Since I started playing guitar about 4+ years ago, I've mainly focused on fingerstyle pieces - probably due to my lack of confidence regarding singing.  It's only been in the last few months that I've started flatpicking and strumming more.  With flatpicking bluegrass tunes, I don't have to sing, but I really enjoy playing Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show when nobody's around to hear me.  I've kind of slowed it down and put my own twist on it.  I think the secret in my case is playing tunes that I really like and make them my own rather than trying to play them like they were recorded. 

Just my 2 Canadian cents ...
John
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2009, 08:38:38 AM »

I've been a university professor for 20 years (and I was a lawyer before that). I used to get very nervous before I had to get up and speak in public, but gradually found that I was actually enjoying it. Nowadays it's just like having a conversation with friends, but I still get nervous sometimes, like when I have to speak at a conference. However, after the first few minutes the nerves go away.

I used to feel the same way when I played in a band. It was worst when I went into a recording studio (only did that a few times). The first time, I froze right up and couldn't play at all, but the bandleader was very understanding and supportive. I went back the next day and nailed my part perfectly.

Whenever you do something like play or speak in public, it's natural that your body is going to release adrenaline and you're going to feel nervous. After you do it a few times, though, experience tells you you're going to be ok. The adrenaline is still running, but it's providing energy instead of fear.
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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2009, 02:39:56 PM »

Dave,

It sounds like ego in the way. I don't mean that like you have a big head, I mean it, in the same way it afflicts me, as if the music is a personal representation rather than something I am sharing. Try and think of it as a communal expierence rather than a judging event. Mine is worse, I can barely play with my teacher and that took like three months. For a month or so I would have to record what i was working on and send it to him, if I could get past the little red record light.

His feelings were as soon as I stopped making it all about me it would get easier and it has, little by little. Some of that is trust as well. The funny thing is the best i managed was when I really wanted him to hear what the guitar I had sounded like. That was a good example, to me, of putting the guitar or the music first.

holly
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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2009, 03:17:32 PM »

So, I have read and reread your responses, and have found that each of you have generously given me some excellent advice.

Tuffy-- It's a complete mystery to me at times why I actually choose to subject myself to the possibility of public humiliation everytime I go on stage, but the thing is there have been a few times when it felt so indescribably wonderful, as if I was part of something bigger than myself, like I was the conduit blessed with the honour of releasing some kind of special healing substance.

Nmbr5--  Yeah, sometimes one or two drinks helps to take the edge off, although just a bit too much for me and the quality of my performance becomes somewhat jeaprodized.  I'll occassionally save half a glass as post performance reward.  Also, what you said about including the audience even when my human flaws are revealed and all the while remaining in the moment, accepting my imperfections-- that thoroughly resonates.  Thank you so much.

John--  Playing material that I get the most personal satisfaction from is definately the way to go; the only way I know to be genuine.

Skyver--  Adreneline is my new found friend; I intend to let it energize me, rather than allowing it to unravel me.

Reality Check:  This is all fantastic stuff, however I don't expect all my problems to vanish, world peace, lottery jackpot or Nicole Kidman to ask me out anytime soon.

                                                                              

Thank you all for your precious insight, your generousity to share your advice and experience.  I very much appreciate it.  

         DAVE        
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« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2009, 03:24:17 PM »

Dave,

It sounds like ego in the way. I don't mean that like you have a big head, I mean it, in the same way it afflicts me, as if the music is a personal representation rather than something I am sharing. Try and think of it as a communal expierence rather than a judging event. Mine is worse, I can barely play with my teacher and that took like three months. For a month or so I would have to record what i was working on and send it to him, if I could get past the little red record light.

His feelings were as soon as I stopped making it all about me it would get easier and it has, little by little. Some of that is trust as well. The funny thing is the best i managed was when I really wanted him to hear what the guitar I had sounded like. That was a good example, to me, of putting the guitar or the music first.

holly


Holly--

You are so right!  The music comes first.  The best open mics I've attended are like a pot luck feast where everybody brings their best dishes to share.  Thanks. 

         DAVE 

       
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« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2009, 04:21:47 PM »

Quote
It sounds like ego in the way. I don't mean that like you have a big head, I mean it, in the same way it afflicts me, as if the music is a personal representation rather than something I am sharing. Try and think of it as a communal expierence rather than a judging event.
......  as soon as I stopped making it all about me it would get easier and it has, little by little. Some of that is trust as well.
  Holly    +1

....good words of wisdom...that have been true for me.  bigrin

My problems are feelings of inferiority and fear of rejection....and also - lack of experience.

I'm learning to accept that I AM an inferior guitar player compared to others who are better than me.
But there will always be people who are better than me no matter how much I improve.
That does not make me an inferior person.

I'm getting over the fear of rejection. I have a talent given to me that I am SHARING as Holly put it so well.
If others choose not to share - I can't control that. It does not dimenish me as a person or the gift I've been given.

An example, for the first time - at Christmas '08 I took my guitar to a family gathering. I played and sang and there was very little interest. A couple days later I was at another family gathering (different side of the family) and guess what ?
Everyone joined in and we had a great time TOGETHER !

At one point, in the middle of a song, I stopped singing and played guitar for all the others who were singing.   It was not a PERFORMANCE.  It was a "communal  experience" as Holly said so well.

I'm learning to ENJOY the singing / playing  ' in the moment ' as I do it in public....
to stop being focused on how it is being received.

The feeling is like -   I'm having a great time in this music ....come join me !....

I enjoy it at home alone - so why not enjoy it in public as well ?

I'm gaining more EXPERIENCE and it helps a lot. Each time I have opportunity to do something in public I try to do so.
Last week at a Church gathering, a video was played that had a portion with just pictures - no sound -
I played several instrumental songs during the video and actually heard one person singing along....
....another wonderful moment of sharing.

- the answer is to be found, outside yourself.
- Larry

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« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2009, 08:50:41 PM »

Back in th 70's they had some really good drugs that would take all your inhabitions away, you could do anything without fear.

Those were the days.   

I used to jam with many friends back in the day. Even played with some friends in a bar, did three songs all by my lonesome.  I don't know why I feel so intimidated now when playing in front of others. It's probably fear of messing up. I have times when it just seems like I can't remember lyrics that I know like the back of my hand. My mind just goes blank, maybe it has to do with the ADD.

I'm not sure I would want to be a "performer", I see video's of people going up on stage and playing and all the time there are people yakking away.  I know that is what you get when you perform out, lot's of people are there for different reasons. But if there is one thing I can't stand, it is to be talking with someone and out of the blue they just start a conversation with someone else. To me that is just rude, it's like they weren't paying attention to what I was saying they were just sitting there collecting their thoughts to talk about something they found more interesting.  I kind of equate that same feeling to playing for people, if you want to hear me play then listen or I'm putting the guitar away.

I don't really have any problem getting together with other players and jamming or taking turns playing tunes, everyone is there for the same reason.

Maybe I've just gotten old and crotchety, but to h*** with people who ask you to play then won't shut up while your doing it for them.

I need a drink

 
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« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2009, 09:34:30 PM »

Quote
Back in th 70's they had some really good drugs
  wacko

Quote
times when it just seems like I can't remember lyrics     
   


......hmmmmm, wonder, could there possibly be some connection here....just a thought   whistling

Man, how DOES Willie Nelson do it ?
Maybe the reason for his 'enlarged sound hole' on his nylon string guitar is so he can write the words down
and tape them to the inside ?

The human mind is one awesome, complex, biological machine - don't think I ever want to mess with it again unless a certified  perfect mechanic does the work 

- Larry
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« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2009, 01:08:15 AM »

I asked guitarist Muriel Anderson once how she deals with stage fright (she admitted to it still being an issue, despite her ability and experience.) Like other posts here, she described the performance as sharing, rather than a face-to-face performance/scrutiny experience. She also said that when the fright starts to creep in, she visualizes a gate leading into a place of sharing and enjoying music. She "walks" through the gate just before she begins to play and said that it has helped.
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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2009, 01:43:19 AM »

I have a really bad case of performance anxiety. anyone who doesn't suffer from this, really doesn't understand. it's not just "the jitters".
patrickgm60's post regarding Muriel Anderson is quite a good one.
I can recommend a book that was recommended to me when I started playing out: A Soprano on Her Head. This book helped a lot.
Other things that have helped me include really slowing down, and of course repetition. Getting up on stage week after week. It has subsided.
You have to get to the point of knowing that your audience wants you to do well, and they are not your judges. The judges are in your head and you have to order them out of the room. Then let Muriel Anderson's remedy kick in.
Good luck. report back in 3 months.
it's going to be OK.
here, have a donut. 
All the best,
-Q.
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« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2009, 02:38:55 AM »

I am kinda reserved myself and ave always been.Gotten better the last 10yrs or so working with the public , also my very good friend is a shy guy , always has been but still plays out and enjoys it.
that said, ever see James Taylor when he just started? He would hardly look up and I still felt his shyness when I saw him last summer, although he is such a down to earth guy.He admits it too, that he has always been on the reserved side.

Paul Mc cartney still says he gets stage fright before he goes on and Bruce Springsteen renamed it exitement , so yeah , you are not alone,

I havent performed in front of people for some time now, but it may be possible soon, But I think it will be ok,
Even at work sometimes I just tell myself"they are just people like me, they have problems and insecurites just like anyone else,

I also read something recently that made me laugh because its so true.
"At 18, you think everyone is looking at you, at 40 , you dont really care, at 60 you find out they never cared in the first place"
something like that.

When I used to play out , I would pay attention to my fellow band guys and stare at the wall behind everyone.wprked for me.
good luck, dont worry too much about it, the audience really could care less.gettin angry helps too.
Dave
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« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2009, 06:54:48 AM »

that is a good point...the audience really doesn't care

hard to believe but it is true and helps with the jitters
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« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2009, 09:43:57 PM »

It is what it is.  More common than the fear of dying.  I occasionally have to speak in front of employees at work and I'm positively terrified.  My voice and hands shake and I sweat.  I get nervous performing, but nothing like that anymore.  Over time it gets better.  It's certainly worse for me when I'm playing alone.  It's still hard for me to play a quiet, fingerstyle piece.  On the other hand, it's so much fun I won't ever stop doing it.
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« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2009, 10:00:45 PM »

It is what it is. 
it is what it is?
I keep hearing (several times a day) people say this. what the heck does this mean?
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« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2009, 10:03:23 PM »

It means what it means.

bwhahahahaaaaa...

It is what it is was nominated and won a place on the list of phrases to ban. The other was  From Wall Street to Main Street and I think Going Green. I could go the rest of my life without seeing 'gifted' used to describe anything other than extraordinary talent.

holly
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« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2009, 09:34:21 AM »

"It is what it is" is right up there with "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do" and "No matter where you go, there you are".

My wife's favorite is "Well, there's that!"
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« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2009, 10:10:33 AM »

I see. thanks for the explanations.
More at "at the end of the day" or "24/7" or "it's all good".
just filling in the gaps between phrases.
replaces what we used for years; the venerable, "um".
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