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Performance anxiety
Any tips on facing the " Firing Squad " ?
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Tucson1
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August 24, 2014 - 2:00 am
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Help ! ...any one have a cure for performance anxiety ...? A real cure that works ...

It makes it hard even to show any progress when playing for my teacher and a complete disaster trying to record ...bunny-headbang

Anyone else have this problem or have overcome it ? It's making it hard to     Have fun Be happyviolin-1267

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Fiddlestix
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August 24, 2014 - 4:55 am
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@Tucs,,,

Don't feel alone, it happens to most everyone at one time or another and I think it's better known as, "state fright", although I do like your somewhat milder description, "performance anxiety", LOL. Severe fright and the performer can become very ill to the point of vomiting, here's hoping this isn't one of your symptoms.

This topic has been brought up many times from a lot of members here. We are afraid of making mistakes and not performing to our true capabilities.  

I think the cure is to just keep trying to forget the cam is rolling or that anyone is even present. The more you do it the easier it becomes.

Most will overcome fright / anxiety, but others still suffer no matter how many years or times they perform publicly.

Good luck, it will eventually pass in time.  crossedfingers

 

Ken.

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Barry
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August 24, 2014 - 8:09 am
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Every courageous act we commit in life transforms us in some way. When we take our place on stage, shaking with fear, and dare to make music, we re-create not only a musical composition,but also ourselves.

Madeline Bruser, The Art of Practicing

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

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DanielB
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August 24, 2014 - 8:16 am
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Hi Tucson.  Yup, I get some of it.  Always have.  I don't know of any actual "cures" for it.  All the ways I have used over the years have been basically ways to function without letting it *stop* me, but it was still always there.   Kind of like running a race and it's a hurdle.   It's more a matter of making it over the hurdle without having it break your stride than making the hurdle go away, or at least that is my current thinking on it.

Years ago, I went through some years of drinking enough to not care about the audience or what anyone thinks.  That's not really a good solution, though.  Other than the health impacts, you just can't actually play your best if you're looped.  When your walking and talking and judgement calls are impaired, you can bet your playing isn't at it's top notch, either. LOL

What I've been doing for it recently is therapy/counselling.  That has been helping some.  On a couple occasions since I started that, I've played to a reasonable room full of people, like a mixed batch of friends and strangers.  The anxiety didn't kick up, and it was good. 

But that is a process, and I'm not going to go into much detail on the specifics in a place like a public forum so the peanut gallery can amuse themselves by picking it over.  Other than being annoying, that isn't good for any sort of therapy/counselling.

You can ask me in private, if you're wondering what sort of things are looked at and discussed, if you think it might help.  That'd be fine.

The camera?  Still not fond of the idea of video, so I haven't tested that.  I haven't liked how my violin sounds with my camera, and I focus on sounding good when I play, so trying to look good for a camera at the same time.. Uh, no thanks.

Mic recording has gone better, though.  That was never as much of a problem for me as video, though.  Most places, audio is still good.  This community has a wierd obsession with video on a mostly sound-based activity that I have never understood.  You'd think it was http://www.juggling.com or something.  But whatever.

Playing live for people bothers me less than video.  In live performance, any mistakes go past quick enough that it can still be a good performance.  With video, people can rewind it and study it and dissect it.  Live, nobody really cares if your elbow was "an inch too high" or whatever.  If it sounded good, and they enjoyed it, it was good.  Which is "reality", so far as I am concerned.

Anyway, yup.  Performance anxiety, or the old popular term professionals don't use any more 'stage fright', is something you're not alone with here.  It had gotten bad enough that I'd tense up even when members of my own household would walk through the room when I was playing and I realized I was avoiding getting together with folks I'd worked music with for years.  I decided it was being enough of a problem for me that it was time to see a doctor about it.  The music is important enough to me that it is worth that.

Hopefully, you aren't having that much of a problem. 

Anyway, if you didn't already know, a lot of musicians have problems with it.  Even big names and top performers, famous folks where it is their career and they have thousands of fans.  Adele, Barbara Streisand, Nathan Milstein, to name just a few of many.   It can be a serious problem, but like I said earlier.. It is more of a hurdle to learn to run without letting it trip you up than a wall that has to stop you.

Saw an article just the other day, just to show you that orchestral/symphony players also have problems with it sometimes..

http://www.classicalite.com/ar.....fright.htm

You're not alone with it, my friend.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Schaick
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August 24, 2014 - 10:32 am
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Hey you talking about me????  lol!!  @Tucson1

I started going to my jam sessions early to get the lay of the land, tune my violin, play through a few songs, figure out where I was going to sit, make sure I sit across from the mandolin, etc.  I think that it has actually helped a bit.

The second time I tried to go early I was stopped by a train!!  Man did this freak me out!!  It might need to be things we can control.

I was a bit late last week and guess what.  I was not thrown into a craziness.  The more I have played in front of people - my hands are no longer shaking uncontrollably!!!

My mind is going completely blank at times during jamming  -  might be the place of my shaking hands.

I think Barry's quote = every time I play in front of people I am recreating myself is accurate.

I WILL BECOME FLUENT IN VIOLIN-ESE!!

Violinist start date -  May 2013  

Fiddler start date - May 2014

FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius.  BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.

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Tucson1
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August 24, 2014 - 2:33 pm
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Thanks folks , for all your input ...looks like we all have to face the Firing Squad alone with no blindfold ....

Many of your discriptions fit my symptoms ...shaking hands and limbs , dry mouth ,sweating , losing my place on the sheet unable to find it again , dizziness ,tunnel vision , brain going blank unable to remember the tune , having to start over and so on ....

Once a tune is memorized I can play it fluently , adding color and warmth and am very happy with it ...that's playing alone at home ....camera , around other people ...barely able to screatch it out and get through a tune I know and play well ...Dang it ..bunny-headbangWas playing so bad at my last lesson that Ben started taping out the beats and pauses and had me stop and do the same ....I was mortified to think that he thought I needed that very basic input ....it only made things worse ...

One must show progress for your teacher or they think yer not doing yer home work , practicing , etc .

I can relax and play well with my fiddle buddy and she can do the same even though she has a case of the same anxiety ...but it's very important to be able to do the same at school ...

Yesterday I shortened a music stand so I can read the sheet better sitting down ...hope it helps ...will keep y'all posted ..

Thanks again for yer input ...yer all too kind ...violin-1267Have fun     Be happy

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HotHands
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August 24, 2014 - 4:34 pm
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hmmmm....., i find that looking at my instrument while i perform helps me forget that theres people around. also ill think of the funniest thing that ive ever seen right before i play to lighten my nerves. theres a catch to that one though, dont laugh too hard, people might think you're crazy haha

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VickieD
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August 24, 2014 - 9:29 pm
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Hey Tucson – this is definitely something I think a lot of us wrestle with. I so admire people who can just get up and play (especially without sheet music – I really go blank if I don’t have those little black dots in front of me). I know for me I have to be careful not to become too obsessed with perfection. Don’t feel that the world will end if you don’t get every single note exactly right. Allow yourself to make a mistake or two, and forgive yourself when you do. Chances are no one will notice (or care) anyway. Except for those who have a natural talent for performance, I don't think most of us will fully overcome our anxiety - maybe we can just try to learn to have fun even if we're not perfect.

"A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?
~~Albert Einstein

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fishnrodds
northwest minnesota
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August 24, 2014 - 10:52 pm
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blank mind, shaky hands, dry mouth...symptoms of jamnesia... i keep a song list in the bottom of my fiddle case in case i panic and cant remember what im going to play.. one bunch i play with wont let you pass, sit there till ya get it figgered out..lololol I am a better musician  because i play with them and they expect the best i can do.. its good..driven to be better....it gets easier with time and especially if you are familiar with the people you are playing with..

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uncledave
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August 24, 2014 - 11:08 pm
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For what it's worth, just get up there and play. Pretend to be calm. That's what I always did. In my opinion a performer NEEDS to have some nervousness to imbue his music with life. The performers I've known who had no nervousness at all played lifeless music which quickly grew boring.

Dave

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coolpinkone
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August 25, 2014 - 2:41 pm
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Good Luck Tucs.  I have this issue also.

I have made strides.  I can play when either of my violin pals come over.  I used to have to take xanax before my violin lesson two years ago.  I get what you are saying and feeling.

I don't have a cure for it. I know at some point my desire to play and the fun from playing with others had been stronger than my anxiety.   I ended up being able to Jam with either violin buds with less fear and more fun.  

I had not jammed in a bit and I had a jam session with my gal pal a bit over a week ago.  The "blank mind" did come up in the beginning.  After about 20 or 30 minutes it simmered down a bit.

I am getting better about recording.  Or maybe I am better about stopping and just putting out there what I have.. realizing that I probably won't get the perfect take.  So sometimes I just take a breath and post. 

I think when I was brand new it felt like I had nothing to loose.  It was all so bad.  Sometimes it is hard to put out stuff now as a 2.5 year player in front of the peers on the forum.  Sometimes..( I haven't thought this  through completely) but sometimes it feels I am behind, or I have focused on different aspects... that whole feeling of "not being good enough."   Maybe thinking someone will say.. "after all this time she still can't ....."     Not so much that they would say it.. but would think it?

Anyway.. that is just a few of the things that came to mind.  Obviously I do record.. the good, the bad and the ugly.  🙂

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Ferret
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August 25, 2014 - 3:20 pm
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Hi Tucs

I'm finding that the video cam is becoming less intimidating.

I think it's a matter of just keeping on doing it. It's getting to the point now that I can just about put it out of my mind while I'm playing.

But playing in front of people is still a problem for me. I'm hoping that the same thing will happen as did with the video cam.

I think that the only 'cure' is to build up an 'immunity'. :)

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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RosinedUp
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August 25, 2014 - 6:06 pm
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In psychology, there is a therapy called desensitization, for extinguishing phobias.

You repeatedly present yourself with something that represents more and more the thing you're afraid of, and ultimately present yourself with the actual thing you're afraid of.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D.....chology%29

I would probably start by keeping the camera pointed at you whenever you practice. If that's too much, you could even just think about the camera as you lay in bed.  After some time, start keeping the camera turned on.  After some more time, start choosing the best clips from your practice and reviewing them.  Then think of showing some clips to someone, as a thought experiment.  Then start showing some clips to your fiddle partner---after all, she's seen and heard you play plenty.  Et cetera.

Get the idea?  You give yourself a scary stimulus until it doesn't bother you, then you escalate the stimulus.  Repeat until you reach your goal.

Anyway, I would try something like that.

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Fiddlerman
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August 25, 2014 - 7:56 pm
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The best cure for stage fright is to perform in front of others and to do it often.
Breathe from the stomach and lean forward. Leaning forward is a natural attack position/mode whereas leaning back is a fearful position. It is more difficult to get nervous when leaning forward. Trust me, it works.
Be more prepared than you think would be expected.

The first time I played my concert master solos in professional orchestras (where everyone thinks they are the best ;)) I was in terrible shape. My hands were sweaty, my heart was pounding, my fingers were trembling, and I had difficulty breathing. Every time I had to play those solos over again, it became easier until it was time to perform them in a concert. Over time that became easier as well. Now a days it's very difficult to get me nervous. Partly because I realize that I am my worse critic and that others are not as concerned with how I do as I, and partly because I focus on the "music" rather than my performance.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Mad_Wed
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August 26, 2014 - 4:50 pm
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I 've found a strange thing while performing. Maybe it's only me, maybe not... I have the stage fright big time. When i get on the stage i literally forget what instrument i play. But when some time passes (like 3-4 minutes) it goes away, so if i play several pieces - i'll definitelly screw up on the first one, and the rest will be so-so and maybe even norm. But if i play only one piece - disaster.facepalm

And that what is interesting - when i just started (3.5 years ago), i felt uncomfortable on the stage all the time - and now i feel pretty normal after those horrifying 4 minutes, LOL! Hooohoooo  and that gives me some hope, that this time will be less and less with time. And i'd also say that the more i play and more comfortable i get with the instrument - the less gets the fright of public performances (or of the camera).

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Barry
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August 26, 2014 - 4:56 pm
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streetjelly people, great place to learn to perform live with out getting pelted by "maters"

dazed

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

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coolpinkone
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August 31, 2014 - 2:50 pm
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I really like this topic.

@VickieD I am in the same boat with you on some songs.... I like the comfort of the music.  I am getting better with not needing them .. it has to do with some intuition and muscle memory that can take over at times.  That being said, it would be rare that it kicks in when I am terrified.

It has been a long road for me as it has been for everyone.  I don't get nervous in front of the camera but I stress that it will sound bad and look bad, so I get distracted, hence 50 takes.  Well... I need to get over it.. "that is how I sound.. and that is how I look"  so get over it and get comfy with me.  So I am learning that.

Dan I love to hear your experience with therapy.  I think it is remarkably brave for you to share as well as to work with therapy to get over.

Naska, I am so glad  you shared  your progress.. THERE is hope.  :)

Barry is right... I have loved seeing the friends here blossom on Street Jellly... And wow... I am excited to know that this is something we can start to overcome. Maybe we will never over come it.. but getting 50% better is better than nothing right?

yahoo... great topic.

@RosinedUp .. desensitization therapy does work.  I have found that in some other areas of my life.  But sometimes to get from A to B there is a lot of TERROR. 🙂  but that being said,  it did work to a huge degree.

Sending love and happy Sunday thoughts to all. 

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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