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Self confidence

Discussion in 'Ask Anthony Wellington [archive]' started by derronh, May 1, 2011.

  1. derronh


    May 1, 2011
    What advice do you have for a rather new bassist to build his self confidence? Inside he feels like he could do great things but he is shy when it comes to playing in front of people. :oops:
  2. Im in exactly the same spot, and by the end of next week i should have met up with some guys to do some covers with for a start, in all honesty im nervous as hell.
    I would probably say and its a method im going to try is concentrate on the songs your learning, and gradually increase the amount of people you play it infront of, trying to block them out, and im guessing it will mean once you get to the stage of playing in front of a crowd, you will be alot more focused on playing it right, than the crowd being there.

    Or Plan B, LIQUID COURAGE!!!!!:eek::hyper: if your old enough :smug: haha, nah that isnt a good option, will mess up the playing more than likely :crying:
  3. Sharkie


    Apr 22, 2011
    When I perform I don't think about performing. I'm just making music, difference is I happen to be sharing it with whoever is listening.

    Now I never performed on bass until I became proficient, but while I was a beginner sax player, when I performed at assorted school concerts I knew that statistically I was better at sax than almost every person I was performing in front of. Therefore, anything I played, as long as I was somewhat solid, would impress my audience, no matter how simple. I could even get away with a few mistakes without people noticing. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), on bass, if you make a mistake (assuming you have a strictly supporting role, which as a beginner you probably do) people are far less likely to notice.

    Keep those two things in mind. Just make music up there and have fun; that'll give you all the confidence you need to perform well. You'll make less mistakes that way than if you focused on performing and not screwing up.

    That's my two cents, I'm curious what Anthony's take on this is.
  4. flypejose


    Sep 2, 2009
    The vast majority of people in any given audience doesn't know the difference between an electric guitar and an electric bass guitar (...However they feel like there's something weird in the atmosphere whenever some of the musicians slip off tonality or drum/bass are at odds with each other! So if you know ur material you'll have nothing to fear!:bassist:
  5. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    One thing that helps me is knowing the audience is on our side. They want to be entertained and they want you to do well.
  6. Ant Wellington

    Ant Wellington

    Jan 4, 2011
    I keep wanting to comment but I'm learning so much from you guys that I feel I should just observe.

  7. Kermin VH

    Kermin VH

    Aug 21, 2006
    When I first started playing out at live shows, I would get SOOOO beyond nervous it was ridiculous. I'd walk on stage with my heart in my throat and my hands shaking.

    Then, when we actually started playing, I'd be so nervous and tense that I'd mess something up. It could have been maybe something as trivial as landing one fret down from where I meant to, and quickly moving up to the correct note so fast that the guys in the band probably wouldn't have even noticed, let alone the audience. It didn't matter what happened or how trivial it was, the rest of my gig would be blown.

    It would trigger what I call the "Cascade Effect". I'd start obsessing over that one minute bum note, and then I'd get even MORE tense and mess up another note, then another, then a whole phrase, etc., etc.

    Even after feeling like I DESTROYED the gig, all the guys in the band would be clapping me on the back, and the audience would come up to me and tell me how "amazing" I was.

    Fast foward a couple years, and I'm now a much more comfortable bass player. The difference between now and then is that I realized that one clam note isn't the end of the world. If I mess up, I just kinda internally say "Whoops!" and go on my merry way. There's still not been a gig where I feel like I've played a "perfect" show (I don't know that any musician, regardless of skill level or confidence, has or will ever play a flawless show), but I end shows feeling a heck of a lot more pleased with myself than I ever used to (heck, I feel ecstatic when I walk off the stage :D ) , and it's just due to the fact that I've DECIDED that one note is no longer gonna be the catalyst for a bad show for me anymore.

    The Too Long, Didn't Read version: Don't sweat it, go up there to have fun, and then it doesn't matter how big of a crowd you're playing for, you'll have fun because you CHOSE to have fun! :hyper: :bassist:

    Hope some of this helps, man!
  8. Kermin VH

    Kermin VH

    Aug 21, 2006
    Haha Ant, +1! There are so many people of your stature that can be so dismissive of what us amateur guys have to say. Thanks for not being one of those people! :)
  9. Ant Wellington

    Ant Wellington

    Jan 4, 2011
    My stature is 5'4"!!!

  10. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    practice until your hands bleed & you can play the songs in your sleep. when you're up there & lights are in your face you can't see anything but lights anyway. it'll be just like you practiced. if there aren't lights then look at your fingerboard . or up. or close your eyes & enjoy the moment. not much compares to well versed well practiced disciplined yet free musical moments.
  11. Sharkie


    Apr 22, 2011
    While woodshedding is great for making sure you can play something well, there's really no guarantee that you will when performance time comes around. There've been times my mind just blanks out on a section of a song that I should have known like the back of my hand. It happens. You have to anticipate the possibility of it happening, and learn to accept that and choose to have fun up there regardless of the outcome.

    I feel like if I did things the way you described it, I'd be focusing on my bass too much during the concert and royally screw something up as a result. Or even if I play perfectly it will be sterile and calculated. I've listened to recordings of some sax gigs from a few years ago, I remember songs where I became focused on my fingering and forgot about the music. And listening to the recording, I can tell this is happening even though I didn't mess up a single note. My tone went flat, and my part sounded forced and just unorganic. Once again the audience probably didn't notice because they can't pull that off anyway, BUT, if I had instead had a magical moment, the audience would have noticed. And that's great.

    If you need to practice your stuff intensely, do it WITH YOUR BAND. There've been times where I've woodshedded a song to death, then when I practiced with my band I found myself falling apart. LISTENING is an extremely important part of what you're doing especially as a bassist. Practice with your band, and learn to listen to them. Then when the gig comes around, like I said in my first post, become less focused on yourself and your instrument and you'll just be making music. It's your band performing, not just you. And if you spend all your mental power on not getting a note wrong, you'll lose the rest of the band, as well as your own emotion and feeling that you put into your part.

    Your biggest critics are yourself and your bandmates. If you practice with your band and have confidence in front of them, then the audience is not an issue at all. If you are comfortable playing in front of your bandmates, then there is no reason you should feel uncomfortable playing in front of other people. If you practice with your band a lot, when you get on stage, the playing circumstances don't change. Think of it as just jamming/rehearsing with your band, except like I said in my first post, you're sharing it with an audience. I love sharing my music, that's why I'm a comfortable performer. Music is a wonderful thing to share and you should be enthralled, not nervous, when you get the chance to do it.

    I'm going to wrap this up by reiterating myself: Have FUN up there!
  12. JxBass

    JxBass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2008
    My son is a full-time professional musician, music degree, etc. After several years of competent, confident playing he developed a severe case of stage fright. It effected his confidence enormously and his playing deteriorated as he held back, afraid to make a mistake. Of course, the more he worried about it the more mistakes he made. It was painful to watch him perform. He read books on building confidence, learned about the famous people who suffered with the same affliction, he even sought counseling in an effort to get to the root of the problem. It became so bad that he considered ending the career he worked on almost all of his life.

    I can't say exactly what did it for him but he eventually beat it. I know one thing that worked for him was to do more instead of less when he played. Rather than hold back he'd add an extra note, add more flair to his arm movements instead of tensely holding them back. It's now a joy to see him play in person or on film.

    The moral of the story is to keep going. Keep trying different things. Don't give up. You'll find what works for you and you'll get the enjoyment and joy of performing that's waiting for you.
  13. Octavian

    Octavian Supporting Member

    Sep 25, 2009
    I've been on stage several times, competed in many athletic events and have done my fair share of public speaking. I'm nervous before each one.

    The closest thing to a trick is being able to understand there are at least two voices at play: your inner champion and you inner quitter. Both will be yammering in your ear demanding attention during a stressful moment. Depending on you ability level and overall self confidence, one will be louder than the other. I think for many of us, it's the inner quitter who can put up the most fuss.

    Supposedly, there are tricks to silencing the inner quitter. I believe the biggest muzzle is being prepared and well-trained for the event. That comes from experience. And for a gigging musician, that comes from playing gigs.

    But, I think that negative voice will always be there at some level. I've just learned to let both voices yammer at each other while I keep doing what I'm supposed to be doing. Eventually, they get tired out and shut up...and I just keep playing.
  14. A certain degree of nervousness and anxiety are all part of the overall gig experience. Part of me believes if you do not feel the butterflies before going on, something's probably gonna go wrong. lol

    The first few shows I played, I was nervous as he*l, heart pounding like crazy & mainly looking down at my bass & my other bandmates through most of our set. I definitely made my share of mistakes.

    Then I sort of relaxed a bit and began to focus on the crowd. What I saw were people being entertained & really digging the music. That was such a great feeling. Also, the crowd either didn't seem to notice or care about any mistakes I made.
  15. Ant Wellington

    Ant Wellington

    Jan 4, 2011
    All great responses! I've battled stage fright my whole playing career. I even saw a doctor about it. She helped me to understand some things about stage fright. And a lot of those things were covered in this thread.

    You guys coulda' save me a lot of money!


    "Smells Like Funk"
  16. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    You haven't received our bill yet! :eek:
  17. Dr_Funkdamental

    Dr_Funkdamental Supporting Member

    Jun 1, 2005
    Kaiserslautern, DE
    I'd just like to add, a large part of it is mental, so try to "Practice" the mental part. What I mean is, while you practice, dont just shed the material and get it down. While you practice it, imagine the band, imagine the crowd, etc. Shed standing up and think about when you go over and beat-nod with the drummer. It might seem silly to do that in your room by yourself, but its preparing you for the real thing. Imagine the applause erupting as you transition to the next song.

    That has helped me be less nervous atleast.
  18. Mayers

    Mayers Guest

    Sep 28, 2007
    I put my mind in the same place I'm when I'm jamming. So I'm jamming in front of people. So I'm not stressed at all.

    Of course everyone will make a mistake from time to time, if you make the mistake look like it was planed you're gold.
  19. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Just to add to what everyone has said, the sooner we can get comfortable with the notion that we WILL make mistakes, the sooner we stop focusing on making mistakes.

    This is true for everything in life though - the fear of failure prevents people from doing many things. Understanding that everyone fails and learning how to recover from a failure (or mistake), IMO and IME, is the solution to the problem.

    Besides, a 'mistake' is just improvisation ;)
  20. Ant Wellington

    Ant Wellington

    Jan 4, 2011
    You guys are doing a good job with this thread.