A new take on performance anxiety

Talk about things that are not necessarily related to music or the guitar.
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Adrian Allan
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Re: A new take on performance anxiety

Post by Adrian Allan » Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:52 pm

I used to get very nervous during academic exams, like maths and English. I wonder if anybody else is the same?

In the UK, they introduced coursework to help those who did not like exams, but due to cheating, it is nearly all back to exams again.
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celestemcc
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Re: A new take on performance anxiety

Post by celestemcc » Tue Aug 08, 2017 1:49 pm

I have it to a greater or lesser degree. Much worse as a guitarist than as a singer, worse as a singer than as a straight actor, interestingly. I think the level of physical difficulty is what makes it worse for me. And no matter what, there are always just plain nerves.
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Rasputin
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Re: A new take on performance anxiety

Post by Rasputin » Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:20 pm

Adrian Allan wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:52 pm
I used to get very nervous during academic exams, like maths and English. I wonder if anybody else is the same?
I wasn't nervous in exams, the one exception I remember being a German oral. I think the difference is that with a written paper you are not being judged there and then. Your script is handed in bearing only a number and goes off to the exam board. Someone a you'll never meet then marks it without even knowing your name. It's hard to care what they think of candidate 7631 from centre 554, if indeed they think anything at all.

It doesn't seem to be a case of a person having or not having performance anxiety - it depends on the task and the situation. You can be fine with public speaking then freeze up if asked to play Romanza. I have also noticed that things can move, over time, from the 'unthinkable' category to the 'OK I can push through' category to the 'bring it on' category. How you make that happen, I don't know.

The other side of the issue is that there is probably a good reason why we have inhibitions in the first place. There may be a kind of zen thing going on whereby if we accept our inhibitions we will find ourselves less inhibited.

The last time I witnessed really serious anxiety was a guy coming through security in an airport where they do the final check right at the gate. He was in his mid 20s, I would say, and the member of staff checking his documents was a very attractive girl of a similar age. The guy literally lost the ability to speak and was breathing like he was having a panic attack. Coming through airport security is probably not the ideal time for that to happen. Once he made it through, I almost wanted to ask him whether it happened every time he had to deal with security, or every time he spoke to an attractive girl, or just all the time. Fortunately I was too inhibited.

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twang
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Re: A new take on performance anxiety

Post by twang » Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:31 pm

dory wrote:
Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:19 pm
...and use music to express their emotions. Most other people I know have suffered from performance anxiety at some time although some have gotten over it. I was just wondering if performance anxiety was related to a large degree of awareness of other people, and if people who are more inward looking for whatever reason suffer less from it.
I'm sure there is general taxonomy of performance anxiety types (although I've never seen one). Depending on factors in play, for any given case you'd expect different levels of intensity, modes of expression, experiences and solutions.

I don't know about the correlation with communication abilities, empathy or awareness. But to your point, I'd bet there's a good fraction of cases are where the dominant factor is simply being uncomfortable expressing emotion (even though they experience it "normally") and for whom music stirs the emotional pot. Put that person on a stage and what's going to happen?

How much practice or getting-used-to-it is it going to take? It isn't a matter of preparedness, skill level, fear of judgement, fear of failure or whatever. That person seems to be looking up at a bigger mountain.
"An amateur is he who takes up the study of an instrument as a relaxation from his serious occupations." -- Sor

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Tomzooki
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Re: A new take on performance anxiety

Post by Tomzooki » Tue Aug 08, 2017 3:58 pm

I think it is a very interesting point, Dory. Certainely worth some serious research.

I personnally have a bad case of performance anxiety. I have not played in public for a very long time. But recently I realise something about me that can explain the severity of my stage fright, and on a more general base why some people has more problems with it than others. When I saw my doctor this year I told him about my hyperhydrosis problem (excessive sweat production). I had that problem all my life, but now it is worse, probably because of the Trintellix and Concerta I take (drugs known to worsen the condition). I explained him how and in which occasions it can be triggered, and other symptoms that sometimes come with it. He then told me "vous êtes très sympathique". First I understood "you are very nice" but he said it means that my sympathic system is very sensitive. More recently I made a little oral presentation, very friendly, in front of very few people, and normally I really like to do presentations like that but I had not done any for a long time. It was really ridiculous, I was short of breath and shaking! Then I understood everything. I have a hypersensitive sympathic system, which litterally means I physiologically overreact to adrenalin..... On very rare occasions (one pharmacy exam to try it, then one concert) I tried a beta-blocker (propranolol 10mg) and it did marvels: at that dose all the emotions, including performance anxiety, were there, but no shortness of breath, no shaking, no light head, no heart pounding in my ears, no tingling in my face and my capacity to focus my brain remained there. I am not suggesting that everyone with performance anxiety should take it, absolutely not, but it may help some mutants like me.

That long story is just to suggest that part of the interindividual difference on the severity of performance anxiety may be related to the way the body respond to adrenalin.
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Jeffrey Armbruster
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Re: A new take on performance anxiety

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:14 pm

I'm required to take a low dose beta blocker for heart reasons. I'll just say, 10 mg is a low dose indeed! Tomzooki, it's terrific that it worked so well. Sadly, my nearly as low dose isn't quite doing the trick. But I hope that with more exposure to playing "in public"--in front of my teacher--I'll get better. I can picture in my mind how it would feel to be rid of this inhibition. I think that this is the first step in what will become normal.
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Adrian Allan
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Re: A new take on performance anxiety

Post by Adrian Allan » Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:17 pm

We could really benefit from the input of professionals who have had performance anxiety and then managed to overcome it.

I can only talk from an advanced amateur viewpoint - that after many years of playing at restaurants and weddings etc, I managed to control my nerves enough to pass music exams at grade 8+. More recently, playing everything for video camera has helped - if I cannot play it in one take in front of a video, I am not ready to play in front of people.
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Tomzooki
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Re: A new take on performance anxiety

Post by Tomzooki » Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:58 pm

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:14 pm
I'm required to take a low dose beta blocker for heart reasons. I'll just say, 10 mg is a low dose indeed! Tomzooki, it's terrific that it worked so well. Sadly, my nearly as low dose isn't quite doing the trick. But I hope that with more exposure to playing "in public"--in front of my teacher--I'll get better. I can picture in my mind how it would feel to be rid of this inhibition. I think that this is the first step in what will become normal.
Not all beta-blockers are equal for performance anxiety. Propranolol is the oldest, with some characteristics that make it not the best choice now for hypertension and most cardiovascular indications, but it is still prescribed for migraine prevention, essential tremor, panic disorder and if course performance anxiety.

And of course repeated exposition to public performance is a key element to help control performance anxiety
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Re: A new take on performance anxiety

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:40 pm

"Not all beta-blockers are equal for performance anxiety."

Now that's interesting! I take Atenolol and really don't notice it helping at all. thanks for the info.
Last edited by Jeffrey Armbruster on Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Rasputin
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Re: A new take on performance anxiety

Post by Rasputin » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:56 pm

I don't get any physical symptoms to speak of but the actual nervousness - just the psychological side - can impair performance by itself.

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Tomzooki
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Re: A new take on performance anxiety

Post by Tomzooki » Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:53 pm

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:40 pm
"Not all beta-blockers are equal for performance anxiety."

Now that's interesting! I take Atenolol and really don't notice it helping at all. thanks for the info.
Atenolol is a "cardio-selective" beta-blocker, like bisoprolol, metoprolol, etc... Propranolol is non-cardio-selective, and furthermore has a greater capacity to go to the brain, so it has a wider range of effects, it means a greater potential of side effects. But it is precisely why it has an indication for migraine, essential tremor, and even for panic attack disorder.

By the way 10mg is a tiny dose, I rarely see doses below 120mg/day for migraine/tremor (I am a pharmacist).

In your case it may help to prevent the blood pounding in your ears, but that's all.
Last edited by Tomzooki on Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Tomzooki
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Re: A new take on performance anxiety

Post by Tomzooki » Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:58 pm

Tomzooki wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:53 pm
Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:40 pm
"Not all beta-blockers are equal for performance anxiety."

Now that's interesting! I take Atenolol and really don't notice it helping at all. thanks for the info.
Atenolol is a "cardio-selective" beta-blocker, like bisoprolol, metoprolol, etc... Propranolol is non-cardio-selective, and furthermore has a greater capacity to go to the brain, so it has a wider range of effects, it means a greater potential of side effects. But it is precisely why it has an indication for migraine, essential tremor, and even for panic attack disorder.

In your case it may help to prevent the blood pounding in your ears, but that's all.

By the way 10mg is a tiny dose, I rarely see doses below 120mg/day for migraine/tremor (I am a pharmacist).
Benoît Raby, Engelmann sp/Ziricote
Yamaha GC-3A
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Jeffrey Armbruster
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Re: A new take on performance anxiety

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:24 pm

"By the way 10mg is a tiny dose"

Yes,I take 12.5 mg with Flecainide as a precaution against 1:1 conduction (long story). Less is more!
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rikroberts
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Re: A new take on performance anxiety

Post by rikroberts » Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:18 am

My approach to avoiding 'disruptive' performance anxiety...

Be prepared to fail, completely mess up - know you could cope with it if that happend...but then believe you won't and give it your all.

This is different to the 'losing is not an option' attitude prevalent in Sport.

It has proven to be most liberating.

Rick Hutt
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Re: A new take on performance anxiety

Post by Rick Hutt » Wed Aug 09, 2017 3:07 pm

I've had a lot of experience performing in various situations. I have been a professional (Actor's Equity Assoc.) actor doing comedies, dramas, and musicals. I have been a classical guitarist since 1974, never did an actual concert, but have performed in churches, coffee houses, etc. And for a number of years have trained in classical vocal technique and have performed in vocal concerts. And for thirty years I have been a criminal defense attorney. So I do have a lot of experience "performing" in various settings. I still get nervous before every recital or jury trial. I doubt that I will ever not be nervous. And I'm fine with this. It provides sufficient adrenaline to create the energy I need. However over the years, it has gotten easier and look forward to it.
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