I can't move onstage!! Please HELP!

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Laineye, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. Laineye


    Mar 3, 2012
    Hey bassists,

    I have been playing bass for 6 years now, and have been in a rock/soul/ whatever-the-heck-we-want-to-play band for about 3 years. My singer is totally into performing, and the guitarist is a natural too, but I still find myself just standing there and playing. I still don't feel comfortable moving at all! I naturally hate being the center of attention, and it really doesn't help that I am the only girl with the awesome eye catching painted bass. I also love the songs we play.

    I think the biggest part of my self consciousness is that my parents are always there watching my every move. I feel like I am constantly being patronized by how "cute" I am. I HATE IT! Yes i am happy to have caring parents but I am letting them hold me back from really feeling the music and performing. And they refuse to not show up. :meh:

    This frozen style of playing has become who I am onstage, and frankly I am very embarrassed. I have a real complex going on here that has been tearing at myself and my creativity. How can I get past this?:help:


  2. sm49341


    May 12, 2013
    When I was younger I was a little this way. Then I evolved into a forced motion not to be boring, probably even worse. Now that I'm a seasoned vet, I just loose myself in the music and let it take over my movement. I'm 45 and certainly not into jumping around. Sometimes a toe tap, leg tap, or even a marchy step if the beat is right. Usually its a slight sway and twist to the music. Like you're dancing with the bass just a little. Its also eye contact and a general happy expression. Eye contact with your band mates, and with the crowd.
    I wouldn't say I practice this, but in general I'm movin to the beat even when I'm practicing if the music moves me. I do admit, sometimes I look in a mirror or window reflection to see if what I'm doing is OK. I try to avoid the chicken neckin' bass player syndrome. Its real easy to fall into that, its the stereotypical nerdy bassist move.
    Don't worry what others think of you. Allow the joy of making music inspire you to move. Afterall, that's what happening on the dance floor, right?
  3. sprag


    Sep 15, 2011
    Melb Australia
    maybe try one of these..

    Don't tell your parents about all of your gigs

    Wear something really embarrassing on stage so whatever you do while your on stage will pale in comparison

    Dance around and be goofy at rehearsals. You'll perform how you practice

    Interact with the other band members on stage this will take your mind off the audience.
  4. JakeF


    Apr 3, 2012
    This is a big emotional barrier as vulnerability is one of the requirements of great art. Movement is a part of this.

    First, can you study/take dance completely separate from the band? This will throw you into the deep end of learning to move.

    Eye contact + facial expressions is a great suggestion. Communicate directly with the audience and get their attention and then it becomes the art of entertainment as you hold their gaze.

    Learning to "march" with the music and make little forays during sections to get comfortable moving about.

    Finally, their are ways to move and dance with your instrument. Watch the movie Purple Rain and Prince and his band have a great arsenal of dance and movement. Good luck.
  5. vulturedog


    Feb 19, 2013
    We just played a show our first together as a band but a first for me in about 8 months but I enjoy playing but watching he vids of us playing I look like I'm at work ! Just going through the motions! But while I was up there I thought I was moving around more and enjoying myself but the vid showed otherwise so our next show I'm going to try to smile more or jump around more Etc....
  6. Jump about like Flea you feel like it, but don't worry about it! Faked enthusiasm is corny as hell.

    Bill Wyman stood like a statue, good enough for the Rolling Stones, good enough for you!
  7. bwoodman

    bwoodman Supporting Member

    I have the same problem, although it was less of a problem when I was in a disco tribute type band for over 10 years where we all dressed up with wigs and 70s outfits - much easier to move around when dressed up and pretending to be someone else. In other situations, I'm more like Bill Wyman! Check out Bruno Mars' bass player - live clips on youtube - heck, the whole band dances and has moves - looks pretty cool and it's a great band. You ARE putting on a show and people want to see a good show.
  8. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    It might seem cheesy, but if you can't be spontaneous, work out some moves and do them. It can be as simple as swaying, tapping your foot, bobbing your head, all the way to full-on Flea moves. Make sure you walk around the stage to "say hi" to the different band members as you play. Keep doing it and it will get more natural as you relax. As they say, fake it till you make it.
  9. thedane


    Sep 25, 2011
  10. rust_preacher


    Dec 17, 2009
    There's a song about you, even. No shame about it.

    (Listen to the last verse)
  11. Our band manager (when we had one) suggested syncing bass and guitar neck movements with the rhythm guitarist, sort of an in and out thing. Then he asked me to step forward on a few riffs and then step back. It was hard at first and I was really self-conscientious. But now the band says I look the most comfortable up there and move the easiest. Go figure!
  12. hsech

    hsech I'm not old, I'm just seasoned. Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 27, 2012
    Central Iowa
    I'm set in stone when I play. When I work out some moves, it just doesn't seem natural. I've been that way since I was in my 20's. In my trio we are all in our mid 60's and we are all set in stone. In my other band, three of us are in our 60's but we have backup singers in the 20's so we let them do the moving around.
  13. A few years ago I was mad at how bored I got on a treadmill, so I decided to try playing bass while jogging on it. I didn't get bored, and ended up becoming very comfortable moving around and playing.

    Wouldn't recommend it at your local gym, but if you have a treadmill handy where nobody can see you it does help.

    And yes...I know how absolutely stupid it sounds. But I also know that I've never been told I need to work on my stage presence. I need to get a treadmill again.
  14. Laineye, there's another option. You don't need to move, you just need to have a stage personae that's interesting. Maybe you are more suited to creating a look and a character that is more suited to less movement. Energy can be much more of a "slow burn" kind of thing and still be very satisfying on stage.
  15. b-bottom


    Dec 18, 2006
    Knoxville TN
    Don't think about it so much
  16. BruceBass3901


    Oct 17, 2009
    Wickham, UK
    Don't think about it is the best advice I can give. If you enjoy the music, you will probably find that you move in a similar way when playing as you do when you are listening to it (i.e. moving your head / upper body or changing to walk in time for example).

    Setting up your practice space like a stage is a great way to feel less awkward when actually on stage as well. Standing facing the other people in the band all watching your own playing will never really happen on stage, so don't practice that way.

    If you have sections where you are in the spotlight (like if the guitar drops out and it is just you and the drummer playing), move closer to the front of the stage and accentuate your movements.

    I was in an LA Glam/Sleaze band and found that I didn't really know what to do at first, but I got the right look and just interacted with the guitarist and the singer and made sure I was at the front when I was playing 'my part' of certain songs.

    Just have fun! :)
  17. antonspon


    Mar 27, 2013
    It's not necessarily a "bad" persona...think John Entwistle! Standing still can make as much of an awesome presence as leaping about.

    However, I know what you mean, I also still mostly keep still for fear of making a fool of myself...and I'm 51 (luckily my parents don't show up for gigs :))! I usually spend the first 30 minutes of a gig feeling very self-conscious and avoiding looking at the audience, but once we get going and I relax it all gets better.

    Like someone has suggested, do your parents need to know about all your gigs? Can't you tell them directly what you've told us, and ask them, for YOUR sake, to at least not come to every gig (and when they do to kinda hold back so they don't distract you)?

    Good luck!
  18. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    From your post, i gather that you're located at the younger side of life, with not so many gigs in your past. So there's some tension when you get on stage that will go away as a natural process.
    As suggested before, try some moving around during practice or rehearsal to get used to move while playing. once you're comfortable with moving and playing, talk to your bandmates about some synced movesets. this can be as simple as keeping your instruments neck high and slam it downwards at the same moment or do a single step in some direction. When done alone, it's next to nothing but if all the members (excepting the drummer/keys of course) do it at the same moment it becomes super effective.

    also, it should help release some tension on the parents-problem because it's a band thing and you're not moving on your own.

    other possibilities include going over to the rhythm guitar when the lead guitar goes into a solo and play the groove together, turning towards each other. Also super simple - but it communicates that you enjoy what you're doing.
  19. Well, first, this is a very brave confession, but confession is good for the soul, and admitting and recognizing a problem is half the solution.

    Here's what I think you are going to need to do, since you have a sincere desire to enhance your enjoyment of your performance, and your aesthetic appeal as an entertainer on stage:

    You need to go through the entire playlist at home, in private. You need to get in front of a big mirror. You need to know the songs like the back of your hand, so well you could play them in your sleep. If you are struggling with the songs, trying to move around will only make them harder to play. And you need to start getting your body into the groove of the songs as you play and watch yourself in the mirror. Don't be self-conscious. Remember: This is what good entertainers do. It's part of the job description. Let your own individual body language start to enhance what you are producing with your bass. Move in time with the tempo and beat of the songs. Easy does it at first, you don't want to miss notes and hit clams over this. But soon it will start to feel natural.

    When you get to the point at home where you have gotten your body into the act (so to speak), start trying it at rehearsal and on stage. Rehearsals are designed for this, so don't stand there like a statue at rehearsal either.

    It's kind of a process, but you have to start somewhere and easy does it. Soon it will feel right, it will look right, and your confidence will grow until you blossom into a more interesting visual entertainer.

    Most of us went through a phase where we were far too stiff, so you're in good company. I think it's awesome that you came to this conclusion on your own and you want to do something about it. Kudos! And good luck with it!

    P.S.-Don't worry about mom and dad. They're not entertainers, you are. I can almost guarantee that you moving around and having fun with what you're doing will only increase everyone's respect and admiration for you, including your parents.
  20. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I hardly move at all, other than tapping my foot a bit or maybe swaying a little from side to side if I really get into it ... not a problem as I see it.

    In my experience more important than moving around is making eye contact with your band members and the audience, smile and look at people, look like you're having fun and don't stare at the floor or your fingerboard. This is hard for many, but work on it and you'll see it helps you relax and in the long run probably loosens you up a bit so you can start moving a little as well.