Stage fright

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
kervoas
Posts: 126
Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2011 1:10 pm
Location: Bude, Cornwall, UK

Re: Stage fright

Post by kervoas » Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:56 pm

My teacher mentioned in preparation for an "end of term" concert in front of other students and their families, that it's always your right hand which seizes up first. He was right of course, but at least I was ready for it. Maybe it's worth examining exactly which part of the act of playing is the first to fail, and practice that aspect in front of friends/family until they can't take any more.
“The only escapes from the miseries of life are music and cats”
Albert Schweitzer

User avatar
Adrian Allan
Posts: 912
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:56 am

Re: Stage fright

Post by Adrian Allan » Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:40 pm

After many years of playing, and playing just for fun and taking exams etc, I can say that the best advice is "video yourself".

If you can do that, and keep your nerve, you are probably 80% of the way there.
D'Ammassa Spruce/Spruce Double Top

User avatar
mordent
Posts: 446
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2007 2:34 pm
Location: North West England.

Re: Stage fright

Post by mordent » Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:56 pm

The great Segovia suffered badly from stage fright such that he was physically sick before a performance and indeed his manager had to push him on the stage. He said that he had to use this excessive adrenaline as anger or excitement but how this was achieved is beyond me. The guitar is such an unforgiving instrument in that there is but a millimetre of free space between a finger and the adjacent string .Segovia had particularly​ large thick fingers so how he coped with the stress of walking onto the New York stage in front of thousands of expectant aficianados with the adrenalin pumping through him is miraculous!.Perhaps in his particular case it did not manifest in trembling fingers.
In regard to anxiety about a particular difficult passage coming up then a tip I got from a master class from a great guitarist is to take a visible and exaggeated deep breath just at that point . The deflects the tension since the muscular effort involved in this exaggerated breathing is now the prime function.
Chopin used to sleep with wooden wedges between his fingers to increase their span--now there's a thought !

User avatar
lucy
Posts: 1792
Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:33 pm
Location: England

Re: Stage fright

Post by lucy » Sat Jun 10, 2017 8:03 pm

Gwynedd wrote:
Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:50 am
When I'm not nervous, it's after we've chatted about the piece I played (badly) and then I do it again with some of the changes we talk about. And at that point, I can get into the music and forget the audience and even myself. I call that "being in the music" or "in the bubble." Nothing exists but you and the guitar and the music and it's all a unit. If I could find a way to hypnotise myself into that space, I would not have stage fright.
Completely agree. Some of my better performances have been when I've lost myself in the music. If you can do this, in spite of the pressure, there's no room inside your mind for nerves or distractions.

It tends to result in better playing too - and not just technically. It seems the audience enjoy it more as well, because you are enjoying it. My mum once told me that audiences can tell when a performer is enjoying themselves and it means they do as well.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. Theodore Roosevelt

User avatar
lucy
Posts: 1792
Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:33 pm
Location: England

Re: Stage fright

Post by lucy » Sat Jun 10, 2017 8:23 pm

tgwilt wrote:
Sat Jun 10, 2017 3:41 am
None the less, I finally came to the realization that the problem was based on my ego. I had never really grokked that music is a gift and performing is the act of giving this gift to others. Once this finally settled in, things went much better, even better than when using a beta blocker.

It's been my experience that most people who listen to you are not listening for the mistakes. They just want to enjoy your gift to them.
Yes, it seems to me, the issue of ego is often overlooked. No one wants to make a fool of themselves, but even so, wanting people to think well of your performance is a no no.

It's as my most recent teacher said to me, you have to not care. Do your own thing, focus on what you're doing and don't bother too much about what others think.

As you say, think of it as sharing a gift with others. It's the music that's important and the shared experience that's created, not you.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. Theodore Roosevelt

User avatar
lucy
Posts: 1792
Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:33 pm
Location: England

Re: Stage fright

Post by lucy » Sat Jun 10, 2017 8:39 pm

ashepps wrote:
Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:08 am
Tom, I find it is still the mistakes that bother me and it is just not simple to forget that! I have started to record myself, but that is just a day ago. That does bother me, as mentioned, but I hope it helps. There is nothing else that I can see to do.

Cheers,

Alan
Alan, you have to remember that mistakes always loom much larger in the mind of the performer than the audience.

But, of course, it does also depend on the frequency and how bad these mistakes are. My view on it is although a performance doesn't have to be flawless, it needs to be at a minimum level of proficiency. But that level varies depending on what a performance is for / where it is.

One of the best pieces of advice I've ever been given is to not strive for perfection, (whatever that is!), but aim to make sure a performance is good enough, for whatever purpose it's for.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. Theodore Roosevelt

User avatar
lucy
Posts: 1792
Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:33 pm
Location: England

Re: Stage fright

Post by lucy » Sat Jun 10, 2017 8:47 pm

mordent wrote:
Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:56 pm
The great Segovia suffered badly from stage fright such that he was physically sick before a performance and indeed his manager had to push him on the stage. He said that he had to use this excessive adrenaline as anger or excitement but how this was achieved is beyond me. The guitar is such an unforgiving instrument in that there is but a millimetre of free space between a finger and the adjacent string .Segovia had particularly​ large thick fingers so how he coped with the stress of walking onto the New York stage in front of thousands of expectant aficianados with the adrenalin pumping through him is miraculous!.Perhaps in his particular case it did not manifest in trembling fingers.
Crumbs, I never knew this about Segovia! I know that Rachmaninov was often pushed onto the stage, though. People do suffer, for their art!

However, I do know that Segovia once said you don't have to be able to play a piece 100%, in practice, but 120%, because there's always a significant drop once you're out there.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. Theodore Roosevelt

User avatar
tgwilt
Posts: 295
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2007 7:17 pm
Location: Kissimmee Florida USA

Re: Stage fright

Post by tgwilt » Sun Jun 11, 2017 1:08 am

Nobody plans to make mistakes, but it's how the mistakes are handled that is important. I have seen Julian Bream live on several occasions and he made some really obvious errors, especially after his arm injury. Never stopped him, and the audience never cared. Eliot Fisk is the same way, and you can see this in some of his youtube videos.

Sigh, I don't know what to say anymore. Just enjoy the music.
Cheers,

Tom Gwilt

ashepps
Posts: 544
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:06 pm
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Re: Stage fright

Post by ashepps » Sun Jun 11, 2017 1:23 am

[/quote] Alan, you have to remember that mistakes always loom much larger in the mind of the performer than the audience. But, of course, it does also depend on the frequency and how bad these mistakes are. My view on it is although a performance doesn't have to be flawless, it needs to be at a minimum level of proficiency. But that level varies depending on what a performance is for / where it is.

One of the best pieces of advice I've ever been given is to not strive for perfection, (whatever that is!), but aim to make sure a performance is good enough, for whatever purpose it's for.
[/quote]
Thanks, good advice, my pieces usually are not simplistic, my problem for sure. However, even before starting a simple piece my right fingers feel like lead and the left hand forgets where the strings are. I'll keep using the video camera or the microphone! I just started this and look forward to results!

Thanks for your post - Alan
Alan Sheppard
1986 630mm Asturias JM-15 Spruce
1955 650mm Framus SL-32R
2015 650mm Yamaha SLG110N

Nick Clow
Posts: 278
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2014 2:58 am
Location: Murwillumbah, Australia

Re: Stage fright

Post by Nick Clow » Mon Jun 12, 2017 12:27 am

However, I do know that Segovia once said you don't have to be able to play a piece 100%, in practice, but 120%, because there's always a significant drop once you're out there.
I agree with this line of thinking.

This may sound very odd and perhaps not very germane, but I have a perspective on this from 23 years of rockclimbing.

After 20 years of rockclimbing I could 'onsight' grade 23 (that is ground-up, with no 'beta', no prior knowledge or pre-inspection walk up to a climb and, placing protection on lead, climb it clean). Steep 23s, slabby 23s, crack 23s, badly protected 23s. Occasionally I would onsight harder grades than 23, but I regarded it as my benchmark.

The 'onsight' of a climb is analogous to sight reading a piece of music. If I had been on a climb before or had rehearsed the moves (perhaps multiple times), I could climb up to 26. This is like playing a piece that you have rehearsed before. Very much like a classical guitarist, the climber has a 'split' level of ability, e.g. a sight-reading level of 6 goes hand-in-hand with grade 8 for rehearsed pieces.

Now, in addition to 'normal' climbing, I would occasionally 'free solo'. No rope. When you solo, you go to a different place where the stakes are higher. The game is not about whether you can do the moves or not, it's about keeping your nerves and emotions under control. You need to be in a zone of zen calmness. A fumble, a shake, a flash of adrenaline and you could be gone. You need to climb sufficiently within yourself that a mistake is unthinkable. Although I have soloed harder, I was generally comfortable soloing up to about grade 18, a whole 5 grades below my onsight level. Even then, I would occasionally come across a move on an 18 that did not feel secure as an onsight solo and I would reverse the climb back to the ground.

When you walk out on stage with a guitar, the stakes are raised and the head game is very, very, very similar to free-soloing. You need to deal with fear and keep it under control. I think you need to give yourself margin for error and play pieces that are firmly within your ability. If you can play grade 7 or 8 in your living room, then maybe you should be playing grade 5 or 6 on stage? The outcome of trying to solo a 26 is predictable.

And, whatever the grade, free soloing is not for everybody.
Last edited by Nick Clow on Mon Jun 12, 2017 11:26 pm, edited 4 times in total.
formerly Edward Frillypants

Jeffrey Armbruster
Posts: 1418
Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 3:16 am
Location: Berkeley, California

Re: Stage fright

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Mon Jun 12, 2017 1:26 am

Hey Nick I'm sure that you've heard about the guy the just free soloed El Cap.

I'm unfamiliar with the Aussie grading system--but I'm not a rock climber. Here, class 5 is pretty difficult.

where the analogy might break down is, if you have real performance anxiety and just walking up a hill IN Front Of Other People makes you fall down...it's not a matter of the difficulty of the piece.
Paul Weaver spruce 2014
Takamine C132S

Nick Clow
Posts: 278
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2014 2:58 am
Location: Murwillumbah, Australia

Re: Stage fright

Post by Nick Clow » Mon Jun 12, 2017 3:07 am

Hi Jeffrey,

I think the whole world has heard about Honnold and El Cap. It's been called the Moon Landing of climbing. There is a historical perspective in that it marks the progression from aid climbing El Cap to free climbing it, to soloing it. It's really not that long ago that the dream was getting up the thing free on a rope. The territory is the preserve of the best climbers in the world, most of whom are dumbfounded by what this guy has just done.

The free climbs on El Cap are like nothing else in the climbing world because of the insecurity of granite, the weirdness and variety of the styles of climbing to be encountered and their sheer length. Freerider is brick hard (5.12d or 27 in Australian money) and has never had an onsight (I don't think). The climb is so hard that Honnold fell off and had to learn/practice the moves before he could even climb it on a rope. Since then he has been on it more than a dozen times over several years, on lead and on top rope, to learn the moves and get them dialled. A few months ago he started up the route only to think better of it. (He didn't downclimb, he took advantage of ropes to abseil.) The evening before his solo ascent, he abseiled down the climb to inspect and brush certain holds. So, there was lots of rehearsal involved.

If I am honest, I really fear for him. He executed ridiculously tenuous and insecure moves with no margin for error on the crux pitch and elsewhere. I don't 'get' a red point (highly rehearsed) solo. Was he rolling the dice? Only he knows. I also don't like cameras and the commercial angle. Do it for yourself mate, no-one else. I think he is an amazing guy, but I hope he tones it down.

But these are the thoughts of an (ex-)weekend worrier and he's living his life, not me. I had a self-imposed rule of soloing only single pitch routes only (i.e. up to maybe 100 feet) onsight at modest grades. You can get a view/sense from the ground of most or all of the climb. You only need to turn it on (or actually really turn everything off) for 10 minutes (not 4 hours) and you minimise the objective dangers. (E.g. you can be pretty sure it won't rain for a horizon of 10 minutes, but you start to gamble if it's 4 hours. If it rains, you're dead).

And I would guess you are right. For some performing is a trip to the gallows.
Last edited by Nick Clow on Mon Jun 12, 2017 11:28 pm, edited 3 times in total.
formerly Edward Frillypants

choctawchas
Posts: 845
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:37 pm

Re: Stage fright

Post by choctawchas » Mon Jun 12, 2017 11:20 pm

I have been actively performing, concertizing in front of audiences in many different combinations now for the past 5 years.

Yesterday I led the county CG Ensemble of 16 players in our final concert of the season which included playing in the guitar2 section-
having moved from guitar 1 to fill a gap; arranging and performing with a group of colleagues in a quartet format of a piece I arranged; playing three guitar/ flute duets with a highly experienced colleague; playing two solos which are new additions to my performance list. On top of that I rehearsed the ensemble, rehearsed with colleagues, secured and prepared the venue, developed and edited the program, arranged solo artists and rehearsed them. I actively promoted the concert and was the main speaker during the performance.

Five years ago I was almost incapable of even considering the thought of playing in front of an audience having had several bad experiences and
lacking the understanding of how to achieve my dream of being a performer.

It has not been an easy road but I can now say that I have the confidence and desire to play in front of people and share my music.

It is a joy to feel the music touch other people and it is a thrill to hear the applause and have positive responses from a large audience.
It makes all the hours of preparation and work enjoyable and exciting. :D

The turning point for me was working with a professional opera singer who took me under her wing, supported and developed my ability
to function well under pressure and demanding I find the necessary technique and musicality to support her voice in demanding repertoire .

If you can imagine the technical requirements to play CG-unamplified- with a powerful high soprano voice
then you might understand that It required that I completely revolutionize and create a means of playing that would go beyond my standard.

How to work with anxiety? Almost all professional musicians I have met and work with suffer from various levels of stress related to performing.
One level of stress is the anxiety preceding the event. This is normal. Generalised anxiety about a recital or concert on the day - is normal.
It is a great way of activating a tremendous amount of energy in preparation, practicing and rehearsing during the weeks and months before the event. A very high level of alertness on the day of a concert is- normal. There are a few, rare, artists who exist without any form of stress, anxiety or nervousness.They are very,very, very rare creatures or they are liars.

Playing in front of an audience requires the desire to risk yourself. It is normal to have a fear of failure-that is a risk. It is normal to be aware of the fine balance required to perform well or go down in flames-another risk. It is normal to fear embarrassment-that is a risk.

I can say from experience that during a performance something will go wrong, something will happen to you that did not happen to you during practice or rehearsal or when you played the piece in front of your test audience. If you can name your worst nightmare I have probably lived it.

Think for a moment what is like to be in the audience. Think how you feel when an inexperienced artist has issues.

Do you enjoy seeing them suffer?

I've read lots of good advice on this thread so forgive if I offer a few grains I've learnt the hard way.

1. Develop a strong, indestructible technique that consistently works under tremendous pressure.
( this requires taking the risk of performing as there are no other substitutes)

2. Work with non-CG professional musicians.
( they will require that you think and play music that isn't based on guitar ideologies)

3. Get involved with charity concerts, churches, nursing homes and schools.
( this is how I started, and how I became a full time teacher and university tutor)

4. Be honest.
( are you willing to work hard, develop your skills and put the hours in to achieve your dream?)

5. Keep going.
(practice performing by playing through mistakes and mental blocks)

6. Negative voices.
(if your hear negative/ critical voices while you are performing create an image of the voice and tell it to go and wait while you play.)

7. Never let the audience know that anything has gone wrong.
( you are an actor on the stage and the role is performing not melting)

8. Find the joy.
( smile and show that being in front of your audience is the best thing that has ever happened to you)

9. Learn from your mistakes.
( the days following a performance make a quiet mental note of what went well and what didn't go so well).

10. Never give up.
(never give up)

Choctawchas :merci:
Oliver Moore 2012
Miles Henderson Smith 2012

wchymeus
Posts: 183
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:49 am

Re: Stage fright

Post by wchymeus » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:24 am

Well put Choctawchas! I am actually on the same path - not as advanced as you seem to be - but getting there developping pretty much the same approach. And indeed it is amazing how much progress you can make by playing with non CG musicians (even amateur)! Most likely because the only thing in common to focus on is... music!
Field 2014, Oberg 2013, Vincente Sachis Badia 1977

User avatar
Lysiane Chantre
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:52 am
Location: FRANCE Nérac SW

Re: Stage fright

Post by Lysiane Chantre » Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:23 am

:cafe: "I also have trouble performing" wrote JohnyZuper....who has not ? :kap:

Return to “Public Space”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Adrian Allan, Altophile, Archibal, Briant, CommonCrawl [Bot], Google [Bot], OldPotter and 10 guests