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Have you ever experienced stage fright?


Dendy Jarrett
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It must be some survival mechanism at work. Does filter the ranks though.

 

Sometimes.

 

Then there's the guy that's been freakin in his fox hole who turns it all around and kicks some a**.

 

I would caution those who think they're immune.

 

I went on to a have successful, though truncated career as a performing musician in a very exacting environment. (I was culled by an injury.) It can be done.

Edited by RockViolin
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Sometimes.

 

Then there's the guy that's been freakin in his fox hole who turns it all around and kicks some a**.

 

I would caution those who think they're immune.

 

I went on to a have successful, though truncated career as a performing musician in a very exacting environment. (I was culled by an injury.) It can be done.

 

I'm very familiar with competitive stress. It can go to fear and beyond (dead broke IOW) Stage fright otoh is not so severe and by and large, healthy. I'm a drummer so there just isn't the relevance of nerves as there might be for soloists and front people.

 

As to that guy turned Sirius, that's my point. The hell might be prerequisite to the stardom.

 

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I'm very familiar with competitive stress. It can go to fear and beyond (dead broke IOW) Stage fright otoh is not so severe and by and large, healthy. I'm a drummer so there just isn't the relevance of nerves as there might be for soloists and front people.

 

As to that guy turned Sirius, that's my point. The hell might be prerequisite to the stardom.

 

​ There isn't the relevance for you. Do you speak for all drummers?

 

Your point files under 'what doesn't stop me only makes me stronger' then, which I won't argue.

 

​ I used to think, hey it's not brain surgery. Nobody dying here. Sure does seem that way to some people and that's the point IMO from those who have actually struggled deeply with performance anxiety/stage fright/panic attacks/nervous breakdowns. None other than Yehudi Menuhin falling under the latter term. He was never the same.

 

​We have a poster in this thread who equates his stage fright to fear of dying. Been there. Another, the OP, a percussionist I take it, who found it to be far from healthy. It's relevant to him obviously.

 

Some of the experiences I had were the closest to complete terror I've ever been in my life. I was less traumatized when 9 guys were on the verge of beating me up for carrying a violin to school.

 

 

 

 

BTW, to all, beware headless chickens that run around cackling about their nerves, as if trying to bring everyone around down with them. Those who have bonafide nerves trouble on their hands should steer clear.

 

Is it a Marine saying? 'Keep your fear to yourself.'

 

​I've been around too. I've seen players of all stripes and even conductors struggle and have seen far mightier than I come tumbling down, permanently.

Edited by RockViolin
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Naturally I speak for myself. I don't have to make the latest Sinatras and Charles'z happy either so there's that. I had not heard about Yehudi Menuhin but it's unfortunate that competition happens anywhere the rewards are coveted. I can't claim occult since I'm not a practitioner but it is a fact of humanity and that's my take on it.

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Naturally I speak for myself. I don't have to make the latest Sinatras and Charles'z happy either so there's that. I had not heard about Yehudi Menuhin but it's unfortunate that competition happens anywhere the rewards are coveted. I can't claim occult since I'm not a practitioner but it is a fact of humanity and that's my take on it.

 

Hmmm. Food for thought. Intriguing, as your posts often are. smiley-happy

 

There were certainly competitive forces at play for me. Direct and indirect. I'm not sure that competition always enters into it though. I think it is likely the case that when Michael Rabin (R.I.P.) went into the bathroom with a revolver, he was opting out of the competition.

 

And sometimes you just feel like a bug under a biology lamp and you wonder how the hell you wound up there. It just doesn't feel right.

 

 

 

 

Edited by RockViolin
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Competitive stress.

 

Reminds me of the day they had challenges in the youth symphony. At rehearsal they went right through the violins one player at a time and had them play selected passages. The orchestra then voted on who got to move up, stay where they were, or get moved back. Brutal.

 

I moved up 11 chairs, btw. :rawk:baby-dance

 

That was bad karma right there...

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Never any stage fright, per se, but:

 

A few years ago I got the opportunity to play a lead role in a community theater musical. The show started with me onstage alone, singing a relatively demanding solo piece. Musically it was straightforward enough that rehearsals were easy for me, but I was way out of my element with stage makeup, costuming, etc. Opening night comes, I'm standing on stage behind a closed curtain, hearing the crowd noise. All I could think was:

 

"What have I gotten myself into? I have absolutely no idea why they cast me in this role, because I don't know what the heck I am doing..."

 

Then the band started to play, the curtain opened, I started singing and all was good. I learned a LOT from going outside my comfort zone with that experience.

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I recall Leonard Cohen saying he was terrified to go onstage. He started dealing with it by drinking a bottle of wine before the show. Eventually it turned into two bottles and by the time he got up to three, he felt he had to do something about it.

 

A good friend of mine is a very talented piano player and singer. Even after thirty years of performing she still fells the need to have a shot of Tequila before the show. I've often wondered why she and some other talented people don't seem to have the confidence that one would expect from someone with that level of ability.

 

Perhaps the anxiety is part of what gets them 'there'.

 

 

 

Edited by onelife
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I recall Leonard Cohen saying he was terrified to go onstage. He started dealing with it by drinking a bottle of wine before the show. Eventually it turned into two bottles and by the time he got up to three, he felt he had to do something about it.

 

A good friend of mine is a very talented piano player and singer. Even after thirty years of performing she still fells the need to have a shot of Tequila before the show. I've often wondered why she and some other talented people don't seem to have the confidence that one would expect from someone with that level of ability.

 

Perhaps the anxiety is part of what gets them 'there'.

 

 

 

Ah war nog. Cooling the fire that burns too hot. Reins for the wild horses.

 

I was in high school at The North Carolina School of the Arts, playing a concert with the orchestra. A good friend and fabulous violinist was playing the Channson "Poeme" as a soloist with the orchestra. After the overture there was some shuffling to do and I went backstage and there she was with some of her ballerina friends, and they had brought her a glass of wine. There wasn't much left in the glass.

 

She played great. Sounded as good or better than in rehearsals, which gave me ideas. I'd had pretty much nothing but rough juries and performances there after 3 years. For my next jury, in addition to being prepared better than ever I had a glass of Burgundy. I played the first movement of the Bach C major sonata, and some of the fugue.

 

I knew it went well. The next day my jury sheets read, "Doesn't look or sound like the same violinist. Bravo!" and "Well, where have you been all this time."

 

It got me over the hump, and was my fix for a while, but only for the most un-nerving situations. Sure was nice to have a positive experience to move forward with - but a crutch is a crutch. And in a busy classical career it was obvious that it couldn't be maintained. If you perform Friday night, twice on Saturday and again on Sunday afternoon...you know, you can't be throwing 'em back for every one. The busier I got the less I needed it. I'm somewhat addiction resistant, and I managed to shake loose. (I quit smoking cigarettes at about the same time too.) I encountered a few people that had a real problem though. Fortunately I found other ways to manage.

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I've been in bands with some musicians who like to have a drink to take the edge off. And I agree, it's a crutch.

 

I've seen musicians who can drink a few and still play well, and I've seen those who only think they play well when imbibing.

 

I've also seen musicians go over the edge. Not a pretty site, and I was in a band that had to fire the guitarist who actually started the band because it got to be 10-20 beers per gig, starting with a few before the first set.

 

In my younger days I used to drink one or two per night while the band was on break. Then I realized that I wasn't one of those people who played his best even with one drink. It never crippled me, but I could tell my fingers weren't as nimble as they should be. So I decided it was a handicap.

 

And now that I'm singing a lot (half the night) it's only warm tea for me. Cold drinks and alcohol are not good for singing, where warm tea is.

 

I know I'm a very good musician, and I know there are better (and worse) out there. I've known from the start that the audience likes what I do. I know I'm going to make mistakes, and I know I can cover up or recover quickly from most. I also know that if I cause a train wreck and have to stop the music, a grin and something like "Did you ever have one of THOSE days at work" will actually put the audience on my side. Fortunately those moments are extremely rare.

 

I don't understand stage fright because I've never had it. I guess I'm lucky. But I've seen others and I feel for those who suffer from it. If I knew what to say to ease their troubles, I'd surely say it.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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Never had stage fright in my life. It might be because I did school plays when I was a kid and that sort of opened me up to being a performer.

 

But whenever I do perform, I do get stressed most of the time, stressed about whether the list of all 1,000 of the things that needed to be done leading up to the performance are all checked off.

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I was 12 or 13 when I played my first solo spot in a talent show fingerpicking ragtime tunes on an acoustic in front of a full house of about 5000 people.

 

Man I froze up about half way through and stumbled through to the end. I never felt like such a fool in my life.

 

I can say it was an important lesson I learned. You cant think you know the music - you have to know you know it.

 

I could say it was partly the fault of the music instructor who pushed me to play the hardest tune I knew. I could have gotten by just fine doing simpler tubes. They said don't worry about it, just fake your way through. Man I had only been playing a guitar for a couple of years, I wasn't able to fake anything yet.

 

Then all of a sudden you're up on that stage by yourself in front of a formal audience of adults (not kids my age) Its like being in a car wreak. All you remember were flashes of stage lighting, that big black void of the open stage and the applause afterwards.

 

That was probably the only time I had it that bad. I'd get butterflies before a big show but that usually dissipated after a couple of songs.

I think it all has to do with how comfortable you feel acting in front of people. I say acting not playing because its really the visual aspect that really puts the heat on you

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When I was in school band, I chose pieces that were challenging for myself, but not super-challenging for solo and ensemble contest. Hard but not too hard. They needed work, but weren't over my head.

 

I got a "Superior" (highest mark) for every one, and every year I was eligible to compete, I got first chair tenor sax AND section leader. Section leader goes to the first alto by default, but I took it away every year. I'm good, and I was well prepared.

 

Perhaps not having stage fright, even if only in front of a panel of judges helped that. Once the music starts, all there is is the music to me.

 

That doesn't mean I don't make mistakes. I play music for a living, and make my share of mistakes. I have enough experience to recover and cover them up. Most of the time the audience doesn't know I made a mistake, and more often than not, even my band mates don't know.

 

But there are times when I really screw up. They are rare, but they happen. So I smile, or even laugh, and say something in the mic like, "Did you ever have one of those days?" and instead of the audience laughing at me, they laugh with me, and it even endears them to me. Because it's happened to them in a different situation.

 

When gigging on cruise ships, I got to see other entertainers. I saw one great singer "accidentally" trip over the mic cable every week in the same place in the music and the same spot on the stage and with the same comment after. Not a big trip, more of an assisted stumble. It caused enough giggle to relax the audience and made the show better.

 

Notes

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