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Nerves


Joe Muscara

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In Bobby's thread about performing on Lopez, a little OT discussion about nerves when performing started. I thought I would bring it here (and I hope that the people I quote don't mind).

I'm out of breath just from watching you jump around! Very cool, I bet it was a lot of nervous energy knowing you were going on national TV! I know I'd be scared shitless!

If it was LIVE, yes. If it was a solo performance, yes. When taping, as part of a solid band? Really none at all. Maybe I'm getting old? Much more nerve wracking doing the anthem at a baseball game.

Hopefully not a hijack, but a fellow musician and I were talking about nerves the other day. I really am never nervous at any live show anymore, no matter how many people. We have been on the morning news playing in the TV studio, and I wasn't nevous. But put me in church as a soloist or part of a duet in a wedding service and I'm shaking. I think part of it is that the style of music is not in my comfort zone, part of it is that any mistakes are going to be much more obvious than in a band setting, and the other part is just the importance of a wedding - it's their only one and you want it to be perfect. But other than that type of situation, I can't remember the last time I was nervous at a gig.

Yeah, I've found that once it becomes a bit "routine," little or no nerves required. If I've been away from the stage for a bit, then the nerves can pop up more. Heck, I can even deal with trying out with bands more if I do a bunch of them together, but if it has been a while, it's more nerves.

 

Are there performance situations that make you more or less nervous? Are you always nervous before every gig? Or do you find it gets less and less as you do more?

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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I'm never nervous at gigs, with a sole exception of me being aware that someone who I respect musicaly is listening. IF there's a keyboard player I know plays better than me it somewhat limits me. In other words I play it safe.

 

Oh yes, it's been already mentioned, church wedding gigs make me nervous too. Not because of the church and all the people but because I don't want to mess up someone's special day with a wrong note. YOu know how people (brides) want it to be all perfect.

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it's been already mentioned, church wedding gigs make me nervous too. Not because of the church and all the people but because I don't want to mess up someone's special day with a wrong note. YOu know how people (brides) want it to be all perfect.

 

Happened to me last weekend. I was playing solo music while people were being seated at a friend's wedding (Korg M3 and acoustic piano). I was nervous at first but started relaxing after about 5 minutes.

 

Then near the end of my song list, one of the ushers quietly came up to me and asked me to keep playing, as one of the family members hadn't arrived yet. I floundered a bit with some improv (digging a few clams), and then just repeated two of my earlier tunes.

 

Overall, I was unhappy with my performance for the next few days... quite a bumpy (humble) learning experience.

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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It's been a long time since I've gotten nervous in any kind of traditional performing situation. I think the last time (that I can remember) was in the mid-'90s, playing solo piano, opening for Dr. John. But since then there isn't much in the way of live performance that gets to me. National TV spots, huge crowds, big name acts (onstage with me or watching), all that rolls right off my back these days.

 

But you know what gets to me? Giving piano clinics. I've played solo piano in front of 60,000 people, and been as comfortable as if I was playing in my own living room. But put me in a room with ten amateur pianists and ask me to explain what I play, and I'll get a knot in my stomach. They won't know that, because I've gotten good at hiding it, but it's definitely still there. I know there's no reason for it, and it actually surprises me when it happens. "Oh geez, this again? I thought I'd by over this by now."

 

Recording as a sideman also still puts me in a slightly weird headspace, just because of the knowledge that if I screw up, I'm costing someone else money. Furthermore, it's someone who has hired me based on their confidence that I won't screw up and cost them more money.

 

In both cases I suspect it's simply a matter of experience. I've logged a lot more hours performing live than doing clinics or recording, so that's where my comfort zone is.

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Instant fix for wedding gig nervousness: spend five minutes talking to the bride on the phone in the week before the wedding. That will usually cure you of any sort of compassion or desire to make things perfect for her.

 

(More long-term cure: have friends who work in the wedding industry, and listen to their stories.)

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I play in front of 400+ people every Sunday at church and I am never nervous....Lately I have been nervous playing in front of the 4 guys in my new band. I guess it's just what you are comfortable/confident with :idk
Gear: Roland RD700, Yamaha MotifES6, Roland Fantom FA76, Roland JP-8000, Roland AX-7, Roland Juno-106.
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Actually, a considerable amount of research has demonstrated that moderate levels of anxiety result in optimal performance. Excessively high levels of anxiety inhibit performance, whereas excessively low levels of anxiety result in insufficient motivation. This is graphically depicted as a curvelinear relationship (i.e., an upside-down "U"), with the X-axis representing anxiety level, and the Y-axis representing performance. So, in general, for optimal performance the goal is not necessarily to strive for "no anxiety."

:snax:

 

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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Over the years, I learned to turn whatever anxiety or nervousness into positive energy. I used to get nervous when called to play classical music, just because the average requested level is so high. But after having played a classical solo recital in absolutely inhuman conditions a few years ago, that went away as well. It's like, "Ok, I've done *that*, so I fear nothing!" :)

 

Thinking about it, that could be the hidden reason why I tend to write complex music. There's really no time for extraneous thoughts! :D

 

 

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I don't get nervous playing with other musicians. I also stopped getting nervous when the record light is lit. Solo piano gigs (which are almost non-existent for me anymore) crank me up a little harder. Solo classical organ gigs wig me out these days, unless, as B3-er pointed out, I'm practiced up.

 

And I don't play for my mother anymore. (Cue the therapist and prozac.)

 

K.

 

 

 

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I know I need to practice more... that obviously builds confidence. I've been very lazy the last 4-5 months. I waited until the last minute to practice for that wedding.

 

:cool:

 

 

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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Actually, a considerable amount of research has demonstrated that moderate levels of anxiety result in optimal performance.
That research supports my experiences. I used to feel nervousness or excitement before I'd play, which would magically melt away and fuel energy as soon as I started playing. When I gave my first solo piano concert at 9, I wasn't expecting the pressure of total audience focus - like a pitcher in the last inning of the World Series. It actually laser focused my playing - introspection being a safe refuge from the distraction of an audience.

 

Now that I'm not nervous about playing anywhere, I'll get anxious about little stuff, directions to the venue, acoustics, instrument, etc. So I ignite a type of fake nervousness to get the creative adrenaline going.

 

My main concern is not to let myself down, and I know I won't play as well if I'm totally complacent. I believe we do go into a different mode when we play, or we should, if we're trying to access a personal peak. A little nervousness/excitement blended with concentration helps to get us there.

 

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That's a very interesting analysis, Steve. My own mental image is slightly different: I see the responsability to give the audience something special - I don't want them to just witness that someone has moved his fingers , more or less well, on an instrument. So I do what I can to bring that ultra-aware state, which I feel is what I need to give the best I can at that particular moment. Another way to put it is to think of the stage as that very special place where you're supposed to bring the essence of what you have to say.

 

Frankly, despite the fact that nervousness can bring to an electrifying performance sometimes, I don't enjoy it. I prefer to play when I'm at a reasonable degree of peace with the world, so to speak. :) Even if the audience might appreciate the extra energy, if *I* am not enjoying it, something's missing. :D

 

 

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it appears we're on the same page. :)

Ha ha, sure we are, Steve. I had started my reasoning with yours as a pivot point, but then I just began one of my usual spiraling constructions, without the intention of being in contrast with what you said. I certainly see more identity than opposition in our attitudes. :)

 

I was nervous playing in front of Carlo

VERY funny. :rolleyes:

 

 

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It's not just playing for my mother, which is there to some degree, but playing for what she did to get me focused on my instrument(s). I would have no teachers or the patience to do what they asked if not for my mother. Not to be sappy or cliche.

 

I was a bit nervous in front of my friend Carlo because he teaches and is brilliant himself, obviously.

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Any of you who (like me) do a lot of work with electric guitar players - bet it's the same the world over "everyone in the audience plays better guitar than I do" - or XXXX is in the audience/crowd tonight and they are probably the best guitar player in ....

 

I'm never nervous like that.

 

Did two years backing a (male) singer songwriter who threw up before every gig.

 

I suppose it's why so many of our colleagues suffer from alcohol or drug abuse.

 

And on that happy note I'm off to look for a happy thread or at least one that makes me smile.

I'm the piano player "off of" Borrowed Books.
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I generally haven't gotten nervous for many years, and even when I did, it wasn't debilitating.

 

THe ONLY time I'l have any pause for concern is if I don't feel as prepared as I should be for playing something new. The only remedy is to always be prepared to play and have what you're playing nailed down cold.

 

Same goes for a recording situation. Everyone suffers from "red light-itis" from time to time, but best to get those first takes down (as some of my best work was done right out of the box).

 

Preparation is the best cure all for nerves, since then you have nothing to be nervous about!

Yamaha C7 Grand, My Hammonds: '57 B3, '54 C2, '42 BC, '40 D, '05 XK3 Pro System, Kawai MP9000, Fender Rhodes Mk I 73, Yamaha CP33, Motif ES6, Nord Electro 2, Minimoog Voyager & Model D, Korg MS10
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I don't know if it's nerves or just a little excited anticipation. Personally, I'd like to think it's the latter if only because I feel that "nervousness" has a little bit of a negative connotation.

 

I think the key is keeping whatever it is (nerves or excitement) focused on something positive (meaning I try to put all thoughts of things that might worry me out of my mind) - and instead focus on things that build my confidence (like B3-er said - nothing builds confidence more than knowing that you're prepared!)

 

My key to keeping nerves under control is to not feel "rushed to the stage". Nothing knocks me off my game more than feeling rushed. As the primary sound provider for most of my projects, I definitely feel some added stress as a result of that role. I invariably breath a sigh of relief once I've hit the power switch and confirmed that everything works! I'll happily trade a little time up front (i.e., starting set up a little earlier than absolutely necessary) so that I've got a little time cushion and hopefully get a few minutes to quit sweating from load-in and setup, get cleaned up and changed in gigwear and make the mental gearshift from roadie to performer.

The SpaceNorman :freak:
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I'm nervous the first time out with a new band; after it all goes well, and it usually does, then I'm fine.

 

I also get a little nervous when premiering something I don't have entirely ready (or not comfortable with yet), or that I think the band needs more practice time on.

 

Example: Friday night we whipped out the Dead's "Help on the Way/Slipknot!" and "Franklin's Tower" - "Slip" has some odd-meter stuff in it that, given our tendency to rush, was terrifying; and "Franklin" is super busy for me as we don't have a rhythm guitarist, and I have to comp on EP and organ, which I'm not entirely used to yet. (Mercifully, a good portion of Dead fans are music players, and they know how hard "Help/Slip/Franklin" is, so we were forgiven the few rough patches!)

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I'm only nervous when Mom is in the audience

 

I played a duet with my daughter in front of Mom, Dad, Wife, other Daughter, and the whole music school at her end of year recital last night. We were a few feet from the first rows, on a nice Yamaha C3 (I think).

I was nervous leading up to the performance, but not during.

The tune went perfectly, so we were pretty pleased.

Some of the students panicked & went blank.

Heard sounds coming out of violins I never thought they could make...

 

In reference to Steve's other post, Mom convinced me to stay in lessons when I wanted to quit, and can be a bit of a critic sometimes as well.

What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

 

MOXF8, Electro 6D, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.

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I'll get anxious about little stuff, directions to the venue, acoustics, instrument, etc. So I ignite a type of fake nervousness to get the creative adrenaline going.

 

My main concern is not to let myself down, and I know I won't play as well if I'm totally complacent. I believe we do go into a different mode when we play, or we should, if we're trying to access a personal peak. A little nervousness/excitement blended with concentration helps to get us there.

 

That's funny, Steve, cause I get nervous mostly about these similar ancillary things ... being late, getting lost ... logistical things ... and sometimes anxiety about personalities I am working with if I know there is some issue there (not so common these days at all). Even if I haven't played live in a while I find my anxiety (if any) is mostly about these logistical things ... and it's worse if I haven't played out in a while. Whenever I do a new thing, the first gig with my trio, the first salsa gig ever, the first etc etc etc, I remember being nervous about content too. But I of course try to be prepared to the best of my ability, so not having insecurity about preparation probably helps. I've never played on national late-night, but done a few in-studio TV performances and don't ever recall feeling nervous about it.

 

I don't get nervous when my mom, dad, or other people I know are in the audience. It actually makes me feel better. :)

 

And actually, I think the intent I have to play the best I can, to communicate and reach people as best I can to give them something worthwhile, is why I don't really get nervous about content. In that way I relate to what you, SK and Marino, are saying. It's not about ME; it's about the music, the spirit, the vibe I am putting out there. You have to be in a certain "right" kind of mind to pull that off and there is no room for nervousness! :D

Original Latin Jazz

CD Baby

 

"I am not certain how original my contribution to music is as I am obviously an amateur." Patti Smith

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Nerves are really just about doing something new or "out of the box" for you. Once familiarity sets in they go away.

 

Even though I had been playing clubs for years, I was as nervous as a kid when I started doing P&W music a few years ago - but those jitters are long gone. In fact now that the praise band has been dismissed by the pastor (a long OT story not worth going into here), and it's just me up there on piano and mic leading the congregation through the songs, I'm still good with it because I've been doing it for so long.

 

With the band gone it almost feels like I'm doing piano bars again - just different material.

 

 

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I don't know if it's nerves, but I always screw up more if I know I'm being recorded. I think just because I'm unnaturally focused on what I'm doing. I play better when I almost don't have to think about it.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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