Stage Fright

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Re: Stage Fright

Postby Terry Tolley » Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:44 pm

I can only offer some small things I've learned over my vast (now there is a laugh!) "career". I used to play in a garage band, but after those years, I pursued the guitar as a solo instrument, which puts all the spotlight on me in a performance. I used to think - these people are only here to see me make mistakes. That thought was totally wrong. The truth is, they have no idea what I'm doing, and most of the time - I don't either! If I miss a note, add a note that is not supposed to be there, make a note sustain too long or too short....they have no clue as to whether it is a mistake or not.

Several years ago I received some advice from a guy I jammed with. I did not really know who he was at the time, but I later found that he was a semi-pro guitarist (not fingersyle, but good nonetheless!). He told me to imagine as best as i could that I was sitting back in my bedroom where no one can hear me. Just play to have fun. If I mess up - so what? Just keep on going. If I REALLY have a case of nerves, I should just tell the listeners that I am a bit nervous but I want to do a good performance for them. I have heard Tommy Emmanuel offer this same advice recently...now 40 years after the first time I heard it, and he swears by it.

Believe it or not....most people really want you to do well, and they expect that they will hear a good performance. More likely than not...they won't hear anything but perfection! Now I know that what I do is far from perfect, but when I have fun in the performance, the audience generally seems to have fun too. I remember Chet saying he always drove himself to try things that could potentially be embarassing if he did not pull it off correctly. I don't remember anyone (other than a very few malcontents over his 50 plus years) of saying anything but how great his performances were - interesting....flawless....pretty....and in tune. Of course, he often said, "Fooled 'em again", when he was all done with the show. Maybe we can't all be Chet Atkins or Tommy Emmanuel....but we CAN have fun so that the listeners can have fun too.
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Re: Stage Fright

Postby RandeDager » Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:25 pm

Talking about the benefit of having had nursing home performance experience, I'd have to say that this never helped me. I've done plenty of that and the quality of listening and appreciating the details of what I'm doing is so poor that my frame of mind is very much different in that setting. I keep telling myself that they wouldn't notice my mistakes anyway and thus I relax just due to not having my mistakes be any big deal. I'm not saying that EVERY resident is unable to appreciate what I do, but the percentage is so high that I feel little cause for nervousness.

The ability of the listener to notice all of the details will always effect my nervousness issue one way or another.
Rande
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Re: Stage Fright

Postby Tom Workman » Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:43 pm

I figured I'd let this ride awhile before posting a response. I was rather surprised at the quick responses and the quantity of them. A lot of good food for thought and things to consider. I admit I'm a bit embarrassed to be dealing with this issue at my age and after decades of performing but, here again, it is the "solo factor" which is new to me and herein lies the problem. I even got some PM's from people on this board confiding that they too, were having some trouble in this area. I got a chuckle out of John Knowles' post when he mentioned his glasses fogging up while playing at his brother's wedding. At least that's never happened to me... now, that's nervous!
Anyway, thanks to all who took the time to respond... much appreciated. I think I'll learn to get comfortable with performing solo in a formal atmosphere over time. It's a fairly new thing for me and I think it will just take time. -Tom W.
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