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How to help a drummer with Stage Fright?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by DrewBud, Jun 15, 2005.

  1. DrewBud


    Jun 8, 2005
    Hey everyone,

    We have a problem that came to our attention last night with a drummer who is very nervous before shows, and doesn't feel comfortable on stage. He's a great player but is lacking confidence and doesn't like feeling in the "spotlight". Both the guitar player and I are very experienced with many shows of all sizes (I've played countless gigs with crowds ranging from 2 1/2 to 14,000) but he doesn't have the same live experience that we do. This is affecting his playing during shows (dropping beats, missing fills, low energy) and we'd like to help him through it as we love his playing and don't want to replace him.

    I know it's going to take some time and experience for him to feel fully comfortable, however I was wondering if anyone has helped band members through similar situations and what worked for you.

    Thanks Ya'll,
    Drew :)
  2. You can arrange his cymbals and things so that he's not looking at a big crowd. Basically hiding behind the drums, but if it makes him more comfortable then it's all good. Eventually he'll get used to the idea of big crowds and you can bring down "the wall." Experience is the only way I know of to overcome stage fright.
  3. Mike Money

    Mike Money In Memoriam

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    Get him jumped up on meth...
  4. +1
  5. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    I hate to say this, but one drink beforehand might help calm him also.

  6. Mo'Phat

    Mo'Phat Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2003
    San Diego, CA, USA
    You might consider two things:

    Jose Pasillas from Incubus had major stage fright, so he faced his drumkit to stage right, facing the DJ. He could just focus on the drums or his rhythmic partner, and it actually created a different look for the crowd. The drummer for Nonpoint also does this, but that guy has zero stagefright. I think Danny Carey from Tool played facing the rear of the stage for the longest time....which is really cool from an audience perspective because they could see his feet and all his arm movements.

    Another thing to consider is to have him develop a character. Maybe wear a particular hat or (gasp...) put on some odd makeup so he could become a character and leave his own persona backstage. I, for one, tend to affect a stage personality, because I wouldn't want to be in the audience looking at ME.
  7. DemoEtc


    Aug 18, 2004

  8. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    The Mitten
    Get him a little buzzed, I also like turning around the kit. Maybe make sure the lights arn't pointing at him.
  9. Yeah, experience. You said that you and the guitarist have had lots of experience, Do you remember if you were like that in your early days? Maybe it just seems surreal to you now after becoming gig 'veterans', as it were. Just support him, encourage him, praise him. Perhaps a little Dutch courage wouldn't go amiss. Just so he has some confidence and then once he becomes a bit more of a seasoned gigger he'll feel better about it all.

    And then, there's always the old 'pretend the audience is naked' one...
  10. I'm not too sure having him drink is a good idea. I see my rhythm guitar player and drummer have a few beers before we play, but I'm scared it might affect their playing, esp. the guitar player. Hiding behind the drums is your best bet. As long as you don't have to LOOK into the crow (easier for drummers anyway) a lot of stagefright can be avoided (I know it does for me, but I'm no vet stage performer either).
  11. MazeMouse


    Jan 27, 2005
    Somehow everytime I thought of that one the audience was full of people who would give you immediate hysterical blindness if they would be naked.... (or at least you would hope it would give you the blindness)

    And since I'm rather visual in my thinking I will NOT imagine the audience naked... (however that single hot chick on the front row....)
  12. lol ok then. I think it originated in the way that as they have no clothes, they should be the ones with the embarassment. But you probably already knew that and I'm just stating the obvious :bag:
  13. That could end in... other reasons why you wouldnt want to be onstage
  14. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Unbelievable...I made someone's sig! Thanks Daft!
  15. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    My buddy has a drummer like that, they calm him down with Jagermeister - but be careful, I think feeding drummers Jagermeister is a bit like feeding Gremlins after midnight!
  16. Now for a serious response (amazing, amazing):

    He needs to learn to use that nervous energy to make himself play better. Here a trick to do that: kinetic energy! If he exaggerates all his motions rather than just sitting there, that'll help a lot. Also, tell him to make sure he's breathing normally. Before he starts a song, have him take a DEEP breath, and then exhale slowly with a sigh. Just those two things will help him a lot.
  17. Maybe a set of headphones either with a click or nothing at all. If he doesn't mind a click track, it could divert his attention enough so that he'll forget there's an audience.
    Try rehearsing in as much of a stage setting as possible.
    Or, try reminding him that the drummers are the craaazzzy ones in the band. :D
  18. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    right before you go on stage , start an argument with him then give him the wedgie of a lifetime . :p
  19. DrewBud


    Jun 8, 2005
    thanks for the great responses!

    The guitar player and I were talking it over and we've decided on the following course of action.

    1) A single shot on stage right before we start playing as a "team building" thing. None of us are big drinkers...well...except at SXSW this year...we got ripped and argued for 30 minutes over who got to drive back to the hotel ;) (we then sat in the van for another 60 while the loser sobered up enough to drive)
    2) If there's a drum riser we'll have him set up in front of it so that he doesn't feel so separated
    3) I'm going to hang back with him instead of being near the front of the stage so that I can give him energy and eye contact.
    4) Doing the praise thing after the show to help build confidence.

    Hopefully that will help things along.

    And I really agree that Experience is the only true way to overcome it, but we're wanting to do everything we can to help that along.

    Thanks again, Drew :)
  20. the whole "hiding behind the drums" argument may help...tell him he's in the back, he gets to sit down (no shaky knees), and he's behind a big kit.

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