Stage Fright

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Stage Fright

Postby Tom Workman » Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:30 pm

Afternoon, everyone...
"Support" seemed like the most appropriate place to post this, so here goes; I feel a little ridiculous and kind of silly putting this on here but, thought I would run this past all of you and see what words of wisdom you may have for me regarding my situation.
I've been playing guitar and bass professionally since 1968 and other than the first couple of times I played before an audience, this has never been a problem (Re: my subject line). I've been in bands that played in-concert, opening for the likes of Marty Robbins, Charlie Rich, Glenn Campbell, The Oak Ridge Boys, Terri Gibbs and many others and was never the least bit nervous or intimidated by any of this. In fact, the bigger the crowd and the more they were into it, the better... I actually fed off their energy and it was then that I played my best.
Well, eventually my wife and I decided to start a family and I was pretty burned out with the "band life" anyway what with trying to run a business full time as well, so I pretty much retired from it so I could be home with my family on the weekends. With all this in mind, here is what is frustrating me now: A few years ago I decided to pick up where I left off many years ago and get back into my true passion which is fingerstlye/Chet style guitar and I've been having a great time with it. To my surprise and delight the good Lord has provided me with enough brain cells and manual dexterity to actually progress with my playing to the point where I'm starting to play at the level I've always dreamed of playing which is indeed very satisfying.
So, I thought I would volunteer to play some solo arrangements in church from time to time for the special music section of the service as a way to give back so to speak as I feel truly blessed with the talent God has given me. Well, the first time I did this I found myself getting really up tight and a little nervous as I started to play and it definitely affected my performance. (I work very hard at trying to get my arrangements smooth and fluid and it's important to me to be able to put forth a nice smooth performance.) Anyway, I kept thinking "What in the world is wrong with me?!" and then it occurred to me that I had never once before played by myself... there was always a band or a singer drawing some of the attention away from me and now it was just me, alone, in front of a congregation that was focused on me and for some reason I found it very unnerving. So, I thought, well, I'll just get more comfortable with it as time goes on and I do more of it. Well, I've played a half-dozen or so of these solo performances, the most recent one being this morning and it doesn't seem to be getting any easier and it's driving me nuts. I can play just fine in an informal environment or around other players but, to play alone in an "in-concert" type of setting isn't getting any easier for me.
I apologize for such a long-winded post but, I was wondering if any of you, both full-time pros and part time hobbyists like myself have ever experienced anything like this and if so, how did you overcome it? I know it's a psychological thing but, I have yet to figure out how to get a handle on it and I want to be able to perform as smoothly and fluidly in these situations as I do right in my own home. Thanks so much. -Tom W.
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Re: Stage Fright

Postby Norm » Sun Aug 26, 2012 8:27 pm

Are you allowed to self-introduce yourself?

You might try a short but unhurried "why I chose this song" statement. It's almost the same as actually playing those first few notes. Gets your breathing right. Allows you to pick the time you actually play the song.

Try that and report.
...that's how it looks to me...The opinion expressed above is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of this station. Your mileage may vary...

Audio samples: http://www.youtube.com/user/acountrygent/videos
That should do it.
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Re: Stage Fright

Postby billmoit » Sun Aug 26, 2012 8:38 pm

I have the same problem when I do a solo in church. I can do a solo 45 minute set at the locol festival and do just fine. No, I am not on the level most of you guys are on but then I am free.

I think the problem with church is you have one chance and only one chance to get it right. Thats a lot of pressure. At a longer session you can start with something really simple and work yourself into it.

The way to make money is offer to quit if you get paid at least at my level.

"If God wanted us to vote he would have given us candidates" Chet Atkins
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Re: Stage Fright

Postby Mike Nye » Sun Aug 26, 2012 8:45 pm

How's the ol' sayin' go . . .

Just act as if yer NOT bein' paid . . . It doesn't make things any easier, it just give you an excuse to make ya feel not as bad about yer mistakes ! ! !
If BRUTE-FORCE isn't working, you're just not applying enough of it ! ! !
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Re: Stage Fright

Postby John Knowles » Sun Aug 26, 2012 8:59 pm

Tom,

My dad and granddad were both preachers. LIke you, I have found a real difference between gigging and playing in church. I still remember playing for my younger brother's wedding and having my glasses fog up so bad I couldn't see anything.

Two observations. 1) When you gig, you are in charge of the event. You create a set list, work the crowd, etc. In church, you are a small part of something very different. You are part of the flow from prayer to offering, etc. 2) The congregation is not an audience. The congregation is there for the same reason you are. You mentioned in your post that you are grateful to be able to play. It may help to play your music as an expression of your grattitude rather than as a performance.

Tom Workman wrote: To my surprise and delight the good Lord has provided me with enough brain cells and manual dexterity to actually progress with my playing to the point where I'm starting to play at the level I've always dreamed of playing which is indeed very satisfying.


John
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Re: Stage Fright

Postby Ray Bohlken » Sun Aug 26, 2012 10:02 pm

Tom, I am not a pro, but I do play open mikes around here as well as the C.A.A.S. when we attend. I was nervous to an extreme when I started -really tight in the fingers and hands - , so I went to our adult learning center and took a 1 hour class with a toast master on how to over come this problem. He gave me an exercise to do just before I was to play in public. It consisted of taking a deep breath and beginning to clench my muscles starting with the calf, going up the leg, then the abdomen, the chest, the hands, the arms, and shoulders, and finally releasing the breath and the muscles slowly. This was an immense help and I was able to play at my best and be relaxed. He brought in some of the staff and I played a few songs in front of them that day and I have been able to be at my best when I was trying to play. I'll never be at the level of a pro guitarist, but I have some fun doing this kind of thing. I hope this helps.
Ray
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Re: Stage Fright

Postby Randy Finney » Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:28 pm

Tom Workman wrote:and then it occurred to me that I had never once before played by myself... there was always a band or a singer drawing some of the attention away from me and now it was just me, alone, in front of a congregation that was focused on me and for some reason I found it very unnerving.


Image

And it isn't yourself you have to trust, it is your audience.

Sounds as if you may be worried that you are boring them or that you have to somehow impress them by doing more than what you do or by being someone or something that you are not. You are not and you do not. You can trust that they are quite capable, on their own level, of getting into exactly what you are doing and that they are there to share in your success. They want you to succeed. And all you have to do to "succeed" is be willing to show them who you are, be willing to expose your personality. Most members of the audience will only (can only), judge you on this - not on how "well" you do or do not play.

You also said that you have gone /are going through a learning / relearning phase. This can really freak us out in that we become hyper-aware of what we can't do as well as what we can do. Don't let what you can't do get in the way of what you can do. The audience has no idea what what you can and can't do. They just accept that whatever it is that you are doing is what you want to do.

Randy
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Re: Stage Fright

Postby RandeDager » Mon Aug 27, 2012 10:44 am

I've noticed that for myself over the years there were several factors that determined my level of nervousness.

1) If I'm playing background music for an event, there is never a problem.

2) If the outcome depends upon how well I do, then it feels "important" and I'll be nervous

3) If I'm performing for church and I know that a few will be offended by it, then I'll be nervous

4) If I've already been playing with a praise band and have watched the audience (congregation) for a while and then
I immediately follow this with a special number, I'll be fine.

5) If I walk up cold to do a solo, then my nervousness depends upon how often I've done this. If I let more than a week or two go by between
between performances, then I'll be nervous. If I play one or two or more times each week, then I'll be fine.


Years ago a very good friend of mine, who had won a major regional cello competition, confessed to me that he was nervous almost every time he performed. He told me about "beta blockers". I was able to get a prescription for these every once in a while with no problem, once I described my situation to my doctor. The particular one I took as Inderol. You could try these. I use them every once in a while in anticipation of this problem possibly recurring.
Rande
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Re: Stage Fright

Postby texasdw » Mon Aug 27, 2012 11:28 am

I'm pretty new to the solo gig stuff myself. I've found that walking up and playing one song, being at the center stage is unnerving.

To get "over" this feeling I broke out into a nursing home venue. Found one that'd let me set up and play for a couple of hours. This was very, very beneficial. Let me get comfortable with an audience (of course, one that couldn't hear very well, and couldn't really get away that quickly anyway), but it gave me the confidence to be able to go further. My "regular" gig now is in a hospital lobby, across from their coffee shop. Lots of folks, they can come and go, sit and listen or whatever. Definitely not the kind of stress you'd experience at "center stage" so to speak, but with as much experience as I've gained I'm ready for that too.
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Re: Stage Fright

Postby David Elliott » Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:19 pm

Tom Workman wrote:Afternoon, everyone...
"Support" seemed like the most appropriate place to post this, so here goes; I feel a little ridiculous and kind of silly putting this on here but, thought I would run this past all of you and see what words of wisdom you may have for me regarding my situation.
I've been playing guitar and bass professionally since 1968 and other than the first couple of times I played before an audience, this has never been a problem (Re: my subject line). I've been in bands that played in-concert, opening for the likes of Marty Robbins, Charlie Rich, Glenn Campbell, The Oak Ridge Boys, Terri Gibbs and many others and was never the least bit nervous or intimidated by any of this. In fact, the bigger the crowd and the more they were into it, the better... Thanks so much. -Tom W.


Hi Tom,

It's been a very long time since I've played guitar in front of a large group of people, but I can recall being very nervous on a couple of occasions...and the same thing occured when addressing a large crowd (about 50,000 people) at national union conventions and seminars. I discussed this matter with a person who regularly did such a thing, and frequently spoke in front of high ranking government officials, etc. and here is what he told me to try...

He said that he would often "envision" everyone in the audience as being stark naked, and somehow this was so amusing to him that it immediately made him consider the humor of the situation, and how when it comes right down to it, how much alike we all are, and how insignificant we all really are in this life! :lol:

Try it, it might work for you to! :)

David
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