Stage fright

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Rick Beauregard
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Re: Stage fright

Postby Rick Beauregard » Tue Mar 07, 2017 5:31 pm

I am NOT qualified to give advice on this topic but I read some good advice once. Turn stage fright I.e. performance anxiety into Performance Excitement. Then feed off this high in a positive way. This is what makes a performance soar. Sometimes we need to Fake it to Make it. It starts by calling it "Performance Excitement."

Of course preparation is obvious. But I don't think we're talking about that.
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lucy
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Re: Stage fright

Postby lucy » Wed Mar 08, 2017 8:59 pm

2handband wrote:
lucy wrote:
Stephen Kenyon wrote:By regularly playing in public, starting small with carefully planned, successful steps; and by having the attitude that the audience is one's friend, not a bunch of negatively critical enemies.. and by not expecting perfection.

That's a great summary Stephen! Thanks.

I'd also like to echo other people's points about the importance of thorough preparation. Even so, you can never tell exactly how a performance is going to go!


You can't, but one huge tip is that no matter how much you screw up you should make sure you look awesome doing it! I'm serious, actually. If you screw up don't stop for anything (if you have to repeat a section because you forgot the next one for god's sake do it) and continue to look utterly relaxed and oblivious. Smile... this is too much fun to care about a little mistake! Above all else do not tense up. I've seen great players completely freeze and do a terrible show the moment they make their first boo boo and you can't do that! It's over, the moment is gone forever, and just keep it firmly in your mind that the next few moments are going to be AWESOME. Maintaining the right mental attitude is everything. I know it sounds like psycho babble but proven psychology: if you spend five minutes telling yourself how awesome you are before going on, you will probably do a better show. The trick is you have to keep believing it even after you make that first mistake.

Quite right 2hand. I read about this in a book. They call it positive self-talk. Apparently, it's very important! It's so you don't create a negative self-fulfilling prophecy for yourself. And absolutely, always (try to!) look like you're in control. I don't know if people noticed in the video I posted, (in the Nonclassical Repertoire thread), but I had to deal with a few loud bangs from the church kitchen, just as I started to play. It jolted me a bit, but I think I managed!

Something else springs to mind, as I write, regarding mental attitude. Apparently, there is a Buddhist saying that one gets drawn towards what we most fear. Eg. If you have a fear of heights and you're up up high somewhere, you may find you stand a greater risk of falling, because of the anxiety.

So, if you approach a performance fearing that you're going to screw up, then that anxiety may well help that happen. It's a lot about psychology at the end of the day. Thorough preparation should alleviate that, because by then you should know you can do it.

I think the trouble is a lot of amateur musicians try to perform without enough preparation and then when it doesn't go so well, negatively creeps in. People start to believe they just can't do it successfully, so they may avoid performing, when they should be doing more of it. A vicious circle gets created, with accompanying negative self-talk, helping to create more not so successful performances.
Last edited by lucy on Wed Mar 08, 2017 9:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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lucy
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Re: Stage fright

Postby lucy » Wed Mar 08, 2017 9:24 pm

Rick Beauregard wrote:I am NOT qualified to give advice on this topic but I read some good advice once. Turn stage fright I.e. performance anxiety into Performance Excitement. Then feed off this high in a positive way. This is what makes a performance soar. Sometimes we need to Fake it to Make it. It starts by calling it "Performance Excitement.

I'm glad you've raised this. It's also very important. I describe it as allowing the anxiety to morph into adrenaline, so it becomes a positive. Most performers need a certain amount of psychological arousal, (apparently people vary how much they need to perform well), but I would think everyone needs to be sharp enough, in themselves, on the day.

Basically, I think it comes down to making sure you are sufficiently prepared, well-rested, have a positive mental attitude, (think good thoughts!), don't think you have to play everything perfectly - and feel the audience is your friend.

Of course, the last two depends on what level you're at. The bigger the venue, the better you've got to play - and the expectations of the audience will be rise, correspondingly!

A top class player gave me a great piece of advice once: It's not about playing perfectly, what's important is whether it's good enough, for whatever purpose it's for.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. Theodore Roosevelt

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Re: Stage fright

Postby 2handband » Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:14 pm

lucy wrote:I think the trouble is a lot of amateur musicians try to perform without enough preparation and then when it doesn't go so well, negatively creeps in. People start to believe they just can't do it successfully, so they may avoid performing, when they should be doing more of it. A vicious circle gets created, with accompanying negative self-talk, helping to create more not so successful performances.


You have me thinking of little kids at student recitals. The recitals are on a set schedule, and they're not so much for the student as so the teacher can remind the parents what they're paying for. They're NEVER ready for it despite the fact that the last two months have been spent just pounding on the recital piece instead of working on stuff that might better serve them in the long term, and of course they know they suck and they bomb when they get up there. I think it's a horrible thing to do to a little kid and it may put them off from performing for life. If someone had told me I had to get onto a stage when I knew I couldn't play I'd have been outta there... maybe for good.

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Re: Stage fright

Postby Rick Beauregard » Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:38 pm

2handband wrote:
lucy wrote:I think the trouble is a lot of amateur musicians try to perform without enough preparation and then when it doesn't go so well, negatively creeps in. People start to believe they just can't do it successfully, so they may avoid performing, when they should be doing more of it. A vicious circle gets created, with accompanying negative self-talk, helping to create more not so successful performances.


You have me thinking of little kids at student recitals. The recitals are on a set schedule, and they're not so much for the student as so the teacher can remind the parents what they're paying for. They're NEVER ready for it despite the fact that the last two months have been spent just pounding on the recital piece instead of working on stuff that might better serve them in the long term, and of course they know they suck and they bomb when they get up there. I think it's a horrible thing to do to a little kid and it may put them off from performing for life. If someone had told me I had to get onto a stage when I knew I couldn't play I'd have been outta there... maybe for good.


Sounds like you were at my piano recitals in 1960. You're right. It made me quit piano. I convinced myself I had no talent compared to those other kids.
All this time I thought I was making music; it was making me.
2015 Steve Ganz "Solidarity"
1980 Dauphin D30
1962 Fender pre-CBS P-Bass
National Triolian Uke ca.1930
Almost as many fly rods as guitars
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_/)

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Re: Stage fright

Postby 2handband » Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:54 pm

Rick Beauregard wrote:
2handband wrote:
lucy wrote:I think the trouble is a lot of amateur musicians try to perform without enough preparation and then when it doesn't go so well, negatively creeps in. People start to believe they just can't do it successfully, so they may avoid performing, when they should be doing more of it. A vicious circle gets created, with accompanying negative self-talk, helping to create more not so successful performances.


You have me thinking of little kids at student recitals. The recitals are on a set schedule, and they're not so much for the student as so the teacher can remind the parents what they're paying for. They're NEVER ready for it despite the fact that the last two months have been spent just pounding on the recital piece instead of working on stuff that might better serve them in the long term, and of course they know they suck and they bomb when they get up there. I think it's a horrible thing to do to a little kid and it may put them off from performing for life. If someone had told me I had to get onto a stage when I knew I couldn't play I'd have been outta there... maybe for good.


Sounds like you were at my piano recitals in 1960. You're right. It made me quit piano. I convinced myself I had no talent compared to those other kids.


I see the stage as kind of a hallowed place. It's for magic to be made by people who are ready to make it, not for scared kids to embarrass themselves in front of their grandparents. You don't need to be a virtuoso to make the magic... but you DO have to have some real music that you can nail every time.

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Re: Stage fright

Postby Smudger5150 » Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:35 pm

2handband wrote:
lucy wrote:
Stephen Kenyon wrote:By regularly playing in public, starting small with carefully planned, successful steps; and by having the attitude that the audience is one's friend, not a bunch of negatively critical enemies.. and by not expecting perfection.

That's a great summary Stephen! Thanks.

I'd also like to echo other people's points about the importance of thorough preparation. Even so, you can never tell exactly how a performance is going to go!


You can't, but one huge tip is that no matter how much you screw up you should make sure you look awesome doing it! I'm serious, actually. If you screw up don't stop for anything (if you have to repeat a section because you forgot the next one for god's sake do it) and continue to look utterly relaxed and oblivious. Smile... this is too much fun to care about a little mistake! Above all else do not tense up. I've seen great players completely freeze and do a terrible show the moment they make their first boo boo and you can't do that! It's over, the moment is gone forever, and just keep it firmly in your mind that the next few moments are going to be AWESOME. Maintaining the right mental attitude is everything. I know it sounds like psycho babble but proven psychology: if you spend five minutes telling yourself how awesome you are before going on, you will probably do a better show. The trick is you have to keep believing it even after you make that first mistake.


For my twopenny-worth, I'd like to add that most of the time, most of the audience don't notice most of the mistakes we make. So from my very limited experience of doing open mic (instrumentals and songs with guitar) rather than concerts, it has been good to be reminded by friends in the audience afterwards that you played well...even when you think you made so many mistakes.

Doesn't completely address the stage-fright question but it might help in stopping the performance freeze that we sometimes get mid performance.

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Re: Stage fright

Postby Smudger5150 » Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:47 pm

Topic also reminds me of a Frasier TV episode regarding performance anxiety.
The extract I'm thinking of went like this:-

Bulldog: .....It's me I'm worried about,
I've got some serious butterflies going here.
Frasier: Bulldog, you're on the radio all the time.
Bulldog: Yeah, but that's me being me. This is acting, it's scary.
Frasier: Listen, that's all part of the thrill of the live performance.
Butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms, scratchy throat,
pounding heart! I suppose you have all of those?
Bulldog: I do now!
--
Being a keen tennis player, I've heard urban myths about some tennis players who also get nervous and who have turned to alcohol as their mid-match sports drink!!
Not something I'd advocate for performance....unless you're going to use the beer bottle to do some slide guitar!!
Classical slide-guitar? Now that sounds like an untapped idea. Or does anyone know of any pieces that use that kind of merging of styles.
(Purists now cringing in horror at the thought probably...)

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lucy
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Re: Stage fright

Postby lucy » Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:06 pm

Smudger5150 wrote:Topic also reminds me of a Frasier TV episode regarding performance anxiety.
The extract I'm thinking of went like this:-

Bulldog: .....It's me I'm worried about,
I've got some serious butterflies going here.
Frasier: Bulldog, you're on the radio all the time.
Bulldog: Yeah, but that's me being me. This is acting, it's scary.
Frasier: Listen, that's all part of the thrill of the live performance.
Butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms, scratchy throat,
pounding heart! I suppose you have all of those?
Bulldog: I do now!

:lol:

I think this just about sums it up: "The thrill of the live performance." It shouldn't been seen as a threatening situation, but an exciting one!
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. Theodore Roosevelt

Adrian Allan
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Re: Stage fright

Postby Adrian Allan » Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:17 pm

Anybody tried hypnotism to address this issue?

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lucy
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Re: Stage fright

Postby lucy » Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:25 pm

2handband wrote: I see the stage as kind of a hallowed place. It's for magic to be made by people who are ready to make it, not for scared kids to embarrass themselves in front of their grandparents. You don't need to be a virtuoso to make the magic... but you DO have to have some real music that you can nail every time.

It's certainly a special place - and not easy to pull it off.

You've decided to put yourself out there, (I agree no one should ever be forced to do it!), but you're on the line, somewhat, especially with solo playing.

I'm reminded of something Captain Beefheart said, "There ain't no Santa Claus on the evening stage".
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. Theodore Roosevelt

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Re: Stage fright

Postby Erik Zurcher » Thu Mar 09, 2017 10:28 pm

"If you know your pieces well, you have no reason to worry. Only if you haven't studied enough, there is reason to worry!"
- Jaap van Zweden (violinist and conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra).

It's a cliche, but true. Good preparation and performing a lot is the secret to overcome anxiety.
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Rick Beauregard
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Re: Stage fright

Postby Rick Beauregard » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:05 am

Some amazing guitarists and musicians have mostly given up the stage because of anxiety. Seymour Bernstein is one. Maybe Jose Tomas, though it may have been the travel.
All this time I thought I was making music; it was making me.
2015 Steve Ganz "Solidarity"
1980 Dauphin D30
1962 Fender pre-CBS P-Bass
National Triolian Uke ca.1930
Almost as many fly rods as guitars
_/) _/)
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Re: Stage fright

Postby Jeffrey Armbruster » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:25 am

I think that it needs to be acknowledged that there is a spectrum of degrees of stage fright. Or even a divide. Most everyone has jitters or a bit worse. Anxiety is something else. With this last, being well prepared and all that is beside the point. The issue is something else entirely.
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Lawler
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Re: Stage fright

Postby Lawler » Fri Mar 10, 2017 7:17 pm

belminokanovic wrote:How do you deal with stage fright?
No stage fright here but I've had "stage distraction" a time or two. For instance, playing in a small church concert series in Connecticut, 10 minutes into the performance (I think I was playing the Bach 997 suite) and I notice someone walking along the side aisle towards the "green room" where I have my 2nd guitar and other personal things. A scene from Julian Bream's bio popped into my head where he talked about stuffing his pockets with money before walking on stage to avoid theft. Then, luckily, I snapped back. :mrgreen:

On performance anxiety in general, I'd say that if you're performing music you can really play you should just think of stage fright as a reminder that you care about the music.


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