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Overcoming Stage Fright – Part 1 by Andreas Farmakalidis

andreasfarmakalidisOvercoming Stage Fright – Part 1 by Andreas Farmakalidis…  It’s easy to spot the manifestations of stage fright and gently work towards practical solutions. I have found that the most important way to counteract perfectionism is using a physical warm up that is calming at core level and then building the idea of just “doing our best”, letting go of the pressure to achieve the “perfect” performance every time.

Our goal as bass players and as performing artists is like a top athlete or dancer: Be completely relaxed and at the same time, be ready for anything. Preparation is key. Our brain must learn and hold all the information regarding the song and the performance as well as be able to react quickly without overwhelming us with unhelpful self-judgment.

For bass players with stage fright, a quick run through different warm up exercises are not enough to contract the underlying panic. We need a more comprehensive approach that includes a thorough warm up, therefore there will be no doubts about our ability to perform the material.

The warm up exercises such as scales, arpeggios etc., not only prepares the bass player for the demands of the show, but can also create a psychological certainty and calm knowing that we are truly ready and duly prepared for the gig. You should always start and end with a deep breath. Taking the time to breathe will help remind us to breath during the show as well as plant the idea in our heads that we can only do the best we can under the circumstances, and if we ever find ourselves losing control during the performance or straining for notes? The best rescue for a song going wrong is always a deep breath. All the useful oxygen will flood our brain like the motor of the car is suddenly flush with gas. If you do not believe me just try it! You’ll be relieved you did.

Some people claim that closing our eyes makes musicians feel safer and less vulnerable. This might be partially true however, keeping your eyes shut will make us isolated from the rest of the band, the crowd and stuck into our own world. That will end up being counterproductive since staying in a closer relationship with the on stage musicians benefits the music and gets us out of our own heads. I always say that we should pretend that we are on a date with the crowd whilst performing and that we are trying to engage them in a relationship – give and take relationship. We can feel the audience in and feel their enjoyment it can help us forget our negative thinking and allow us to be more available to the music. Always stay attentive to your date and try to feel if they are enjoying themselves.

Through practice and repetition could it be that you are just convincing your muscles and your mind that they already know what to do? To sum up, it’s the underlying pressure we are putting on ourselves that must be dealt with ultimately. Make sure that your high expectations and how they are affecting you are acknowledged. Taking all the above mentioned points into consideration, one should always try that commonly known technique of imagining the crowd naked… it might make you laugh and therefore relax you.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Moshkiae

    March 3, 2013 at 9:21 am

    The biggest issue with “stagefright” for a musician is, that most bands, and groups never work with a “director”, as in theater, film, or staging, in order to learn something different that might help the performance along, as well as help the confidence and ability of the player/actor on the stage. There are many exercises that an actor and director can work with, that can also be used on the performance to help the player feel better about his/her work … but, in general, almost ALL stagefright issues have to do with confidence about how well you know what you are doing … and in my experience, that is 90% of the folks, that are so scared about a mistake, that if they accidentally notice that someone said something, they will miss the next note or passage, and destroy the whole thing … and that has more to do with the leadership of the group not being capable of helping each other make sure they can do it well, than anything else … the #1 reason why stage fright is more of a problem than it really is.

    The biggest issue is that a magazine like this is not capable, or able to follow up on what I’m saying, as too much of the attention here, is on notes, instrument color and the new amp … and never on each person’s inner way of looking at it all, and how they feel, when they hit that first note of the night, or when they hit that wrong note right in the middle of the solo.

    That you can improve on and help ALL players work together even more and get better, so their confidence, will not interfere with any stage fright problem.

  2. Moshkiae

    March 3, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Pt 2:

    It is important that we do not confuse ability … with stage fright. They are on totally opposite sides of the spectrum and I think that too many folks hope that a little “mechanic’azation” (is there such a word?) will help cover … what most audiences will never hear or understand … like 95% of us!

    Looking between each other, on a stage tells a lot about a group, and in general, almost none of the groups actually support each other, right or wrong, strongly enough, to show … that it doesn’t matter if you make an error … it is automatically covered, and right after that, it becomes fun to make an error. You concentrate on the communication between each other … but you can’t if someone is only saying … that’s wrong, you’re not playing it right! … there is no right or wrong … there is only “feeling” and it is impossible for you or I to be able to feel the same thing … so you telling me I’m wrong, is almost like saying … that you are also wrong! And it might not be a communication issue at all … just a tuning, or a detail that is throwing one or both folks off!

    This is why orchestras, usually, are tight, and the main reason why a lot of rock/jazz music is not considered more important that it can … because the ability to see it from the outside to make it even better is rarely there. There is such a thing as it not be necessary when the group has enough communication to make it better and memorable, and you can name many folks here … but in general, they will almost always be compared to pop/rock/jazz music and not considered important in the history of music because of its simplicity and lack of direction and attention to details that could improve the work … but I’m not sure you can improve the Sex Pistols a whole lot … but you can check out Frank Zappa for an example where the musicianship is almost over the top and considerably better than many composers, if you were to write it down on a staff and compare it on a side by side.

    In the end, it is about how you value the work you do … if all you can say is … I wanna play rock’n’roll man … you are already lost … and if you have stage fright, you’re not gonna be there long, for example … but your musicianship will not improve a whole lot either!

    The question is … how comfortable do you want to be and how good? … but if you are a professional musician supporting a band … you better have the attention ready and never worry about “stageanything” … you just do it! It is your job to know it and be ready to do it. As a youngster, this is different and generally just bad practices and not strong enough learning consensus by most instructors out there. In case you wana recheck this, think of Bob Dylan or Peter Hammill or Neil Young … you think they are worried about hitting the wrong note? … nope … it’s about how you feel and how it flows!

  3. Pingback: Tips for Stage Fright! | Monster Music Lessons

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