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Dealing with stage fright

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Chip, Nov 2, 2002.

  1. Chip


    May 2, 2000
    heres the story
    i had my solo music exam yesterday, it wasnt a good day to say the least
    i had a drummer accompaniment so we moved the drum kit into a room which they told us, then new plans my exam was upstairs, so we had to move the drum kit (not to mention all my stuff too) up stairs (we had a lift but it was still a hasstle), we couldnt make any noise so i couldnt have a quick warm up, when it was time to move in, i had just enough time to set up and have a below average sound check.

    im usually never nervous, but this time i was REALLY nervous, so i stuffed up a bit more than i normally did, like forgetting a couple of things and sometimes jumbling my fingers, especially on part of my bach piece and in the solo of continuum

    so my question is, is there anyway to beat nervousness because it really stuffed me up on that day, im never nervous for public preformances, at least not that nervous
  2. i think in most all public performances you will be at least a little nervous ( I know i am). Just take a couple deep breaths and concentrate on your music. it also helps if you have your music down perfectly. Also HAVE FUN, thats eventually what it comes down to

    sorry 'bout your bad exam

  3. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I struggled with stage fright at every concert I ever played. I tried every trick in the book to compose myself to be able to play my best. Also I was very ashamed of the sick feeling and faintness I always had, so I never told any band mates for fear that if they knew they would lose confidence in me.

    It helped me to read books on sports psychology which are essentailly guides to controling anxiety during competitions, but in reality were no different than concerts. The books tried to help athletes not freeze up and I had that problem, too. I'd actually get freezing cold. I also had that same fear at every karate belt exam I took which was essentially the same kind of panic.

    One way is to tell yourself positive things about yourself as a musician and to calm yourself by saying no one logs a perfect performance and that you can handle mistakes and move on. I had a whole routine to help me calm myself, but in your case, events conspired against you to not allow you to have a sound check and do things that were important to you. That would have been hard on me too because I needed quiet time to talk to myself about the gig.

    I've often read that you won't feel so nervous if you know the material really well. I think that is true up to a certain point, but stage fright can rob you of what you know, even things like your name. Severe stage fright can cause you to make mistakes you never would make in a rehearsal or home practice. That's why you have to control the stage fright and not ever let it control you. Otherwise the stage fright will steal from you the enjoyment of performance.

    Another thing I read was ask yourself, "What is the worst that can happen and what will I do if that does happen?" Tell yourself you can and will handle it and your overall concert will be very good. Even the best muscians make mistakes, forget the lyrics, forget the key, drop out a bridge or verse, break strings, etc. Move on. You will have so much more fun. Don't let stage fright become a habit.
  4. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I channel my nervous energy into positive thoughts like, "Man, this gig is going to be BITCHEN!" Getting all that adrenaline charged into a positive outlook is actually quite pleasant.
  5. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    i was working on a composition degree years back.

    they made me switch to any instrument besides bass.

    i picked up piano.

    i FROZE at EVERY recital. never got over it.

    to the point where i wrote a psych paper on PERFORMANCE ANXIETY.

    its a tricky thang.

    i don't get nervous playing bass in a band sitch. an i don't care if i screw up.

    most people won't notice in a bar/club anyway.

    i found the best way to get used to the anxiety pump, is to accept it, know it will happen and play through it.

    its actually good to get a little hyped before a show. just means that its important to you.

    just the FIGHT OR FLIGHT trigger.

    the more you play, the more you'll get in tune and use it to your benefit.

  6. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    It sounds like your stage fright is fairly mild compared to some of the more severe symptoms. My recommendation is to practice as much as possible. Find the hardest parts of anything that you're going to play for a test or in front of an audience and practice those phrases over and over. With adequate practice, in the event of nervousness you will be able to fall back on sheer practice and repetition. This has helped me more than once. These days I don't really get nervous anymore unless I am supposed to do a solo or something in front of a crowd that I'm unfamiliar with so if that is the case I'll practice that part a lot more.

    brad cook
  7. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I know the feeling, I have never been totally comfortable about standing up in front of people, but with practice and getting used to it over the years I'm now more or less cured. There is still some nervousness before each show, it's unavoidable and should be there - at least a little nervousness means you're taking your performance seriously.

    It can help to know a bit about how this works, so you don't get too nervous. Everyone gets nervous, it's part of your "escape reflex" if you will, the body gets all worked up in preparation for fight or flight. I try to channel this into concentration, I'm not very talkative just before a gig. I warm up and go through the first few songs so I'm clear on how the show starts. The same goes for presentations in front of people, I do some for customers at work for instance, and it's just the same. Prepare well and you're less likely to get nervous, and plan so you have plenty of time to check out the venue before the show. I hate getting rushed through sound checks etc.

    Usually the nervousness will peak a short time into the presentation or first song, where you least need it and feel people's stares the most, so it helps if you have that part of the song or presentation down really well, to the point you can "survive" on automatic. Once you're further into the show the nervousness usually decreases or goes away completely. For me it helps to know this is the way it always develops, some nervousness at first but it will go away. Knowing this your nervousness will not escalate into panic-like levels, just recognize and accept the feeling and it will pass. Experience really helps here, if you have many shows under your belt and recognize this is how the nervousness works, you will get less and less nervous about getting nervous, so to speak.

    You can also try a method from sports psychology where you beforehand envision yourself on stage, going through in your mind in advance what will happen, what you see, what you feel, and emphazising the positive aspects - how fun it is to play, good looking gals looking at you etc. That way you have already been on stage beforehand and as you step up you recognize the situation and it's not as scary anymore. It actually works. I do some visualizing before going to the dentist. :)

    And, finally, it always helps to be in good shape physically and mentally, do some physical training and sleep enough, that way you will be in better balance and can cope with more stress. That goes for all walks of life really, not just bass playing.

    If you feel you get so nervous you can't cope, get help, don't give in.

    Good luck!
  8. PJR


    Jun 20, 2001
    N.E. PA
    I find that I'm most nervous in smaller scale settings.......

    In front of a large club crowd...with stage lights in my face....I can almost 'block' out that there are any people in the audience.


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