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  1. #1

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    After many years performing live, I still sometimes deal with nervousness as a hindrance to playing.

    As a solo performer doing chord-melody in a small lounge, I find that my playing before an audience is worse than when I play alone at home. It is an obstacle that shouldn't occur, yet does, and I would like to hear from other players on ways to overcome this.

    To clarify, it is not that I am seriously nervous, I've been on a stage a lot and feel comfortable performing, but still my playing is worse on stage and that doesn't make sense.

    Some of the problem is the sound difference in a given room, as you never know what volume you will require on a given night -- a full-house of people requires higher volume on the amp, and also the acoustics change. For me, once my sound deviates from that which I had been practicing on, it takes something out of my playing. Once I start to struggle a bit, mistakes can happen, and there is the risk of a train crash once this happens. It seems the creative state of mind is fragile, and once affected it can be hard to get back.

    How do you prevent stage nervousness from affecting your playing?

    And, how do you deal with playing well when your "sound" isn't there?

    I wonder if there is some psychology at play here, and if so I need to start addressing this.

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  3. #2

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    Effortless mastery by kenny werner. Helps
    I used to play music for a living. Now I devote my life to jazz.

  4. #3

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    Professionals can both smile and think, "this sounds like sh@t" at the same time.


    Seriously though, nothing you wrote is unique to you, it's just the way humans are. If it becomes an issue, I have heard (in the classical guitar world) folks will take beta blockers, but I've never tried them myself.




    PS, we generally judge time in relation to our heartbeat. Think about what happens when you perform live, your adrenaline starts to pump and your heart rate speeds up. The result is what feels like a comfortable tempo might be a little faster than you play it at home. So.... Before starting the performance, internally hear the song in your head at the desired tempo (that's what many classical players are doing when they pause before starting a piece). So, when you play live, especially in that style, take the tunes just a little slower, nobody will know the difference, and likely you'll be playing at the desired tempo anyway.

    good luck

  5. #4
    destinytot Guest
    Don't 'time-travel' - stay in the moment and give it all you've got. Deal with the consequences later. Good luck!
    Last edited by destinytot; 11-19-2015 at 05:33 AM. Reason: spelling

  6. #5
    Great advice from all of you!

    I will read that Werner book.

    Trying to play at a slower tempo seems like a great idea. I do tend to speed up, that is probably why my fingers lose accuracy at times.

    In the past I used a looper, and copious chorus, delays and reverbs as a crutch -- I'm playing live without a net now, with just a little reverb on the amp. I do this because it ultimately sounds better and it's my fingers than bring the best tone from the instrument, not technology. Too many effects loses something in the tone.

    I will certainly employ the method of pausing to feel the tempo before I play.

    Classical players are serious when they approach the instrument, and that is a mindset I have admired and tried to adopt myself.

    I find musicians on other instruments -- keys or horns -- can't understand why guitarists are always fretting (no pun intended) over the "sound," but it is a serious aspect of guitar that sometimes can make or break you.

  7. #6

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    I think that a lot of it does come from the difference in sound/tone and volume from the shed to the gig. And the guitar played clean solo or in a tame jazz combo is a different animal than a guitar loaded and drenched with FXs in a rock or blues band. In that context as long as you're in tune, play in time and know the material it's hard to sound bad (or good for that matter). I'm a decent jazz guitar player but I would be terrified of a solo gig in a large venue like a theater where all eyes and ears were on me. I think that I'd drop through like a hot rock through soft cheese.
    Guitarists are notorious tone freaks. That's one reason why so many own lots of guitars. Horn players in general often tend to own just one instrument. And no amps. They just put on the mouthpiece and blow. Sax players can amass a serious collection of mouthpieces though. Most of my playing these days is in the shed but if I'm going to play out I'll practice at a louder volume than I normally would to prepare for it. And the OP is right. The creative state of mind is extremely fragile.

  8. #7

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    Last night I was watching a fascinating series of videos of an interview with Frank Sinatra and Larry King. Sinatra said that he was always nervous and nearly trembling before going out on stage. Will the voice be there? Once on stage it lasted about five seconds or so and then resolved.

    True story. I used to play in bands in high school. But in my freshman year in college was my first experience playing solo before a large crowd of University students on a big stage with fancy lighting. The setting was a cool autumn night with the stage in a spot at the bottom of soft sloping hill, so kind of like an amphitheater thing outdoors with about three hundred people or more. There were a several "acts" on the card, so I was limited to a couple of songs. I was playing Steve Howe's The Clap and Mood for a Day on an amplified classical guitar. Solo.

    I was nervous before I took the stage, but once on stage I was aware of several things. I couldn't really see the audience beyond the first row or two due to the glare of the spotlights, but I could feel their presence. My mouth was bone dry. In the very cool night air my fingers felt like numb thick sausages. It was bad.

    After a brief introduction made difficult by the dry mouth thing, I played The Clap first which went off pretty well and got applause. Should have made me feel better, but my nervous system was already fried. Midway through Mood for a Day something happened to me that had occurred once before when I was delivering a climactic soliloquy in the last act on stage in a play my senior year - my mind went blank! I was literally in the middle of the tune and suddenly lost my way in that I could not think of where I was in song. Talk about panic! I had lost the focus and the flow, because I had been thinking in the back of my mind about how my mouth was dry, my fingers felt thick and stiff...

    I winged it. What else could I do to recover? I wrapped up the tune as best I could - I honestly was just playing something that at least was not out of tune or totally off the charts. Warm applause followed as I slunk off the stage, just desperate for my heart rate to get back to normal and to drink some water. My friends told me that unless you knew the last song cold, no one noticed. But I have never forgotten that experience, which left me preferring to perform in a group situation rather than solo for some time. Safety in numbers.

    And I agree with the comment about the volume issue. When you are not used to loud volume, it is a bit of a shock at first, especially when your nervous system is on high alert status.
    Last edited by targuit; 11-19-2015 at 10:49 AM.

  9. #8

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    What works for me are a couple of thoughts. First is to put my energy and focus into Expressing what I think is the sentiment of the song, as opposed to trying to Impress the audience. Second is knowing that there are no wrong notes, the "bad" ones lead to the "good" ones. Third is always having a fall back can't miss tune as the first tune of every set, the kind of tune that is easy easy easy to play. Fourth is understanding that the audience already thinks you are awesome at guitar and they aren't there to judge you, they really want to love what you're doing and see and feel you loving what you're doing. Fifth is to play a "bad" note right from the start on purpose and see if the jazz police raid the place and confiscate your guitar. Sixth is to be gentle to yourself and laugh at your mistakes, forgive yourself your foibles as you would your best friend or partner. Seventh is to remind myself that in the big big big picture none of this matters, it's all just lagniappe.
    edbarrettjazzguitar.com

  10. #9

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    I look at it as the audience rarely knows what's happening anyway. In today's world these club/restaurant/bar gigs aren't exactly the Blackhawk or the Five Spot in 1956 or Minton's in the 40s. I've seen some rough stuff get huge applause from a drooling audience. It's not like the patrons are chatting between sets saying things like "Yeah this guy's ok but I saw Dexter last night at the Royal Roost and he was really burnin' ". Half or more of the people at these clubs never heard of Charlie Parker until the Clint Eastwood movie. I'm not saying treat the audience with disrespect but I personally don't care what they think. And as eddy b said the audience is there to like you. But I mostly just play for myself and my fellow band members. If I'm happy and the band's happy the crowd will be to. Now if I was the featured solo artist at Carnegie Hall that would be different. But I'm not ready for that.

  11. #10
    I'm glad for all the advice.

    (mrcee I responded your PM, did you get it?)

    I have crashed and burned hard, earlier in my career a few times. Once, in a fancy big restaurant I begged the owner to let me open for a big jazz act. He let me, but when I got on stage I really, really sucked -- everything went wrong and I couldn't play. I distinctly heard a voice in the audience say "this sucks." I stopped playing halfway through and went to the bathroom. It took me 20 minutes to get the courage to emerge and exit the place past the audience with my guitar in hand. Paying dues I guess.

    I'm off to my gig now, in a new venue and with some new tunes, I'll tell you guys how it went.

  12. #11
    Great advice eddyb and mrcee. thanks.

  13. #12

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    i've heard that coffee doesn't help, 24 hours or so beforehand.

  14. #13

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    nickel

    No I didn't receive the PM. I was having trouble sending them myself until I realized that there's a little "submit message" box (about 2" below the area where you put your msg and to the right) that I needed to click before clicking "send new message" in the upper left. Maybe that's what happened. Try again. I look forward to the message.

    Good luck on the gig.

  15. #14

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    Nickel --

    I had a bout of performance anxiety about fifteen years ago. At that time I had been playing for about 25 years, so it came as a surprise!

    This piece by Hal Galper about handling performance energy during his time with the Adderly Brothers Band pointed me in the right direction. I hope it does the same for you.
    "Don't worry about that. Everybody talks about finding your voice. Do your homework and your voice will find you." - Branford Marsalis

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Sherry View Post
    Nickel --

    I had a bout of performance anxiety about fifteen years ago. At that time I had been playing for about 25 years, so it came as a surprise!

    This piece by Hal Galper about handling performance energy during his time with the Adderly Brothers Band pointed me in the right direction. I hope it does the same for you.
    The Hal Galper piece is great. Thanks. Pianists make some great educators. Barry Harris obviously and of course. Also Mike Longo.

  17. #16
    Back from the gig. The nervousness was a complete non-issue the moment I started playing.

  18. #17
    It helped I think to slow the tunes down, as suggested here.

    I'm drained and pushed my improvisations far.

    I need to find new things to do on ATTYA, but tonight I took that tune into some crazy places -- started it slow, then speeded it up with a walking bass line, then turned it into a bossa nova -- but I need to find new lines to bring into it.

    But the owner was happy, and I got paid, so that is that.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by nickel View Post
    It helped I think to slow the tunes down, as suggested here.

    I'm drained and pushed my improvisations far.

    I need to find new things to do on ATTYA, but tonight I took that tune into some crazy places -- started it slow, then speeded it up with a walking bass line, then turned it into a bossa nova -- but I need to find new lines to bring into it.
    But the owner was happy, and I got paid, so that is that.
    AATYA is considered by many to be overplayed but I don't think all of the juice has been wrung out of it. I love it with a bossa feel. And it's such an important number in the jazz canon which makes it good especially for audiences that might not be super familiar with jazz. I try to play it at different tempos. That seems to suggest different melodic approaches.

  20. #19
    destinytot Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by mrcee View Post
    AATYA is considered by many to be overplayed but I don't think all of the juice has been wrung out of it. I love it with a bossa feel.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers View Post
    i've heard that coffee doesn't help, 24 hours or so beforehand.
    Lol, I usually drink coffee on the gig.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by destinytot View Post
    Barbara Streisand is a fantastic singer even if I wouldn't sit around the house listening to her but that's a great version of the tune. She's definitely getting some fresh juice out of it. Thanks

  23. #22

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    Here's a few ideas.

    Practice at home using a lot of different sounds, so you get used to playing with inconsistent sounds.

    Or

    Practice and perform with an in-ear monitor, so your primary aural reference stays consistent.

    That's all I've got.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave70 View Post
    Lol, I usually drink coffee on the gig.
    yeah, it helps with concentration.


    i have used these as well:

    1. make sure that your performance is essentially flawless. (no small task)

    2. walk through any new venue to become familiar beforehand.

    3. have a friend try to distract or annoy you during a rehearsed performance. i know this one sounds silly, but i have used it successfully. when i did, sure enough i screwed up the fist couple of "takes" because i was indeed distracted. after a few tries i could totally shut them out and focus on what i was doing, while they acted up 2 feet in front of me. i felt unshakable then.

    you never know what you will face. noise, unruly audience, bad HVAC, indigestion, some other discomfort, etc, etc.

  25. #24
    Dial it down - make things as simple as possible to find the lane you can happily & compentenly play at & then build from there.

    My first regular gig backing a singer was a disaster - really unhappy with all aspects of my playing & seriously thought about jacking it all in.

    Went back to listen to some of Pass / Fitzgerald duo albums & what struck me was the absolutely simplicity of what he was doing (some of the time!) - nothing flash - really working the guitar as a servant of the song and the singer.

    Tried that approach & it really gave me a good platform from which to develop by taking the self generated pressure off to sound good - whatever that means.

    I'll never be Joe Pass - but that's cool - I'll play to the best of my ability, keep working at it & make sure I enjoy it.

    "Don't tune up too much baby, you'll lose you soul!"
    Von Freeman
    https://www.facebook.com/MysteriousMrValentine



  26. #25

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    I don't think that everyone would agree with this strategy but especially for restaurant type gigs where the audience isn't necessarily really there to focus on the music, and it's more background music than anything else, I as a solo guitar player, might tend to ease into it. It isn't like "Hey everybody this is the Joe Blow Show!!" Engage in some foreplay so to speak. Or like easy relaxed small talk with a person or people you've just met. I'm not going to address them in stentorian tones with my philosophy of life and my deepest feelings. A situation like this is not like a rodeo where you bust out of the gate smokin' waving your cowboy hat. I might start out playing a little softer than normal and freely (without shameless noodling) over a tune that lends itself to a rubato feel. Maybe using a lot of 1/2 and whole notes. To warm myself and the listeners up. I've seen pianists Ahmad Jamal and Mal Waldron, at gigs, do a standard where the first 20% is fairly abstract and they might not even play anything like a literal reading of the head until the middle of the song. And this is at a first class club gig where the crowd has come to see Them.


  27. #26

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    Maybe a little bossa nova like Dindi to warm up? Or a laid back version of This Masquerade? Lately by Stevie Wonder. Of course, it depends if you're playing solo or duo or trio situation, too.

    The post re Joe Pass and his duets with Ella remind one that if the vocalist has the melody, the comping is much easier.

  28. #27

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    I just read a good post on another thread, Jazz Rhythms for Guitar, which applies to all of this. platt posted a link to an article of his with a segment on Psychological Interferences. I'll take the liberty to paste it in here if I may.

    Improving Your Time and Rhythm: The Foundations of Musical Expression | NYEC


    Psychological Interferences


    An article on timekeeping and rhythm wouldn’t be complete without touching on psychological interferences, which are the way we manage impulses and moods that arise prior to, or during, a performance.Nervousness, stage fright, lack of interest in the music, insecurity, being too relaxed or too excited are just a few factors that can be detrimental to good time and rhythm. For instance, it is not unusual for musicians to rush when the music gets more intense and exciting.The year I graduated from Berklee, the commencement speech was given by no less than bass legend Mr. Ron Carter. One thing he stressed was the importance of keeping your center while performing, because getting too emotionally involved with the music could affect your performance negatively. To this day I still find myself thinking about that statement from time to time. I was always drawn by artists who get lost in the moment at the cost of making mistakes. To me, that state of being always seemed to be the best in music, so I had to figure out what balance I wanted to strive for and what to make of Ron Carter’s words. The process of thinking about it helped me understand many things about my own playing.The most easily recognizable emotional states are excitement, anger and tension, but there are subtler feelings that one may overlook, and they do affect one’s performance. Recognizing how different states of mind affect your time is the first step to gain control of it.Because this is such an intimate process, different people find their own solutions. Like most other things, once you realize what is going on, you can address it, and most of the time self awareness constitutes a big leap forward.

  29. #28

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    ahh..self confidence/ego/self critic..our culture puts such a high price on "perfection" - thanks to all the media hype of everything gets solved/cured/made perfect in an one hour(or less) time span..

    I remember "testing" in school...it was a memory test..had little to do with "skill"..this is a good observation of what "we think other want from us" and of course we never know..mainly because "others" don't know..or for that matter they don't care..

    yep..we can watch a classical player on a concert stage doing a long rendition of one of the masters..and think.."how in hell do they remember all that and not miss a note..and if they do..then what?"

    I would watch ted greene play a piece for an audience at a guitar studio..and all the people were just gaping wide mouth in amazement..then ted would say.."im sorry" and continue playing and never miss a beat...meaning he "knew" he played a "wrong" note..few know what he was sorry for..gas perhaps??

    I would just begin to play at parties..there was a guitar and I picked it up..and hit a chord and some runs and off to the races..no one was familiar with my music so I could not play any wrong notes..

    I take that attitude with me when I play in private or public..I can play..and I like my playing..wrong notes and all...the recovery process from playing something wrong is more important than the preparation to play everything right...and a lot less pressure!!
    play well ...
    wolf

  30. #29
    destinytot Guest
    Tai Chi.

  31. #30

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    Record yourself playing at home on occasion. Often you're just being more critical of yourself when you're in front of an audience or not critical enough when you're at home. There's certainly an element where you get more nervous in front of audiences but you'd be surprised how often you let things slide in practice that you find to be absolutely mortifying in front of an audience.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by pamosmusic View Post
    Record yourself playing at home on occasion. Often you're just being more critical of yourself when you're in front of an audience or not critical enough when you're at home. There's certainly an element where you get more nervous in front of audiences but you'd be surprised how often you let things slide in practice that you find to be absolutely mortifying in front of an audience.
    agreed!

    i'd say record at least every two weeks. record tunes and even basic drills. listen with a critical ear. play clear, clean, in control.

  33. #32

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    dry martini or bourbon... some brands of scotch also will do... for me at least... but very small portion, just to feel teh taste and warmth...

    A half glass of good red wine also works fine... but gin or boubron are much more creative)))

    Again it's not about getting drunk)))

    For example if I am driving and cannot drink (in my country you cannot drink at all when driving) I just get a glass of bourbon and hold it, smell it you know... kind of ritual that gets me fixed in almost any circumstances

    And it does not mean that I will drink after the gig))) I am not drinking in general


    But I can understand that it's not the method for everybody

  34. #33

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    Playing in a restaurant abuzz with conversation is taxing on nerves but I think less so than when on stage under the glare of lights and the expectations of the public with eyes glued on you. Even though I agree that they don't want you to fail or mess up. They are often very supportive. But it is the neuroendocrine reactions - the surge of epinephrine or "fight or flight" hormones, the dry mouth, the butterflies in the stomach - that are hard to quell. I once tried Beta blockers, but I would not recommend them generally. I glass of beer or wine or nice scotch is fine. Does not work but tastes good!

    For years I have practiced progressive muscle relaxation and breathing techniques to try to relax and focus with even a bit of positive self-hypnotic suggestion. That actually does help, along with knowing your music cold and trying to get into the flow. Requires a bit of practice but it is a positive thing.

    Funny, but when you are playing solo in a chord melody approach or with your vocal carrying the melody, you are not expected to improvise so much as deliver the song smoothly and hopefully to captivate and move your audience emotionally. I find that the process of singing the melody renders my nerves less of a problem, because from the moment you begin to sing, you become the melody, and that makes the guitar accompaniment almost "automatic" in the sense that your critical Superego is "distracted" and the subconscious takes the wheel. If you cannot really play, nothing will come of that. But if you are experienced and know you songs cold in the shed, much of the jitters fall away.

    Still I agree that it is hard to perform as well in public as in private. And if a mistake happens, well...the world is not likely to spin off it axis.

    On a side note - did anyone happen to see pictures lately of Miley Cyrus performing nearly naked with her quite lovely breasts totally exposed and wearing ....wait for it...a giant dildo in the form of a unicorn's horn strap on. Literally. Now that is one way to distract the audience from your actual musical performance. I can hardly wait to try that approach. The audience...maybe not so much....

    And you waste your time playing bebop scales....
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...4wndgBwsgmHycg
    Last edited by targuit; 11-24-2015 at 09:06 AM.

  35. #34

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    Agreed. I think "passive audience" gigs are a breeze, really. I could play in front of 1,000 people who were conversing among themselves easier than 100 who's eyes were fixed on me.

    I've gigged since I was 15, sometimes several times a week, now every other month or so...and the one thing I can take away is, when I'm at my most relaxed, is when I know my shit COLD. If you deal with nerves, a solo gig is not the time to try out something you've been working on for two days.

    I guess I'm lucky. I'm either brave enough or dumb enough not to get stagefright.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  36. #35

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    I think that being nervous when playing somewhere new is what we all go through.

    On Saturday I am playing solo at a wedding (my biggest solo gig to date) and I am feeling anxious and excited already. I've played most of the set in a local nursing home and got a good response. Never the less I am still osmewhat anxious about Saturday.

    What I'll do is think positive thoughts like 'I've been playing for x years', the nursing home gigs went well and If others can do it so can I. I will then sit down and play for myself while monitoring the audience.

    Fingers X'ed!!

  37. #36

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    Wedding gigs are fun. Trust me, NOBODY will be looking at you.

    Doing jazz cocktail hour or ceremony?
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  38. #37

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    I have always had anxiety issues generally. In my years I find music itself the best therapy. We must find a way to loosen up and clear out the 'immediate' emotions to get to that stream of consciousness thing all good music comes from. Only then can we flow and be creative.

    Whatever it takes to calm one's nerves (within reason) and 'listen louder', do it. If that means have a beer, f it, have the beer. You only live once.

    Again, music itself is the answer---for me anyway. I find when I need to chill if I go listen or sit in somewhere---especially if the people and sounds are relaxing to be around---then, why, it rubs right off on me. I become right as rain...

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Wedding gigs are fun. Trust me, NOBODY will be looking at you.

    Doing jazz cocktail hour or ceremony?
    Cocktail hour.

  40. #39

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    I find that if I have a few minutes after setting up I'll step outside, find a quiet place, close my eyes and take a few deep slow breaths. I try not to predict how the gig will go, or how bad the traffic was getting there, etc. I just enjoy the moment, and the fact that I'm doing something I love. Sounds Zen, but it works for me...

    If I'm anxious about an upcoming gig, I'll practice with an audio or video recorder on. It's works like a surrogate audience.

    LOTS of psychology in playing/performing music, IMO....

    YMMV
    Last edited by Dana; 10-10-2016 at 07:37 AM.
    Check out my new book, Essential Skills for the Guitarist on Amazon.

  41. #40

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    I play live solo piano on all sorts of bad pianos in different settings. The sound can really bother me. I have to come to solution where I take and ear plug and cut it in half. Then I put a half in each ear... what a relief!!!
    It's like the first time I tried good sunglasses when driving into a glaring sun. It took the harsh edge away, I could focus on the note fundamentals and not all the weird glaring overtone distortion that is so often present in live rooms and with bad pianos. I love [laying solo in ear plugs. It's so calming, I am able to play much more boldly too, I don't recoil from ugly acoustics because I am protected. The sound is very similar (fundamentals) from piano to piano. I can hear better in plugs.

    Then i get in the zone (the flow in sports) and I love playing as long as I am not having some joint pains.
    Last edited by rintincop; 10-21-2016 at 06:50 PM.

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by vintagelove View Post
    Professionals can both smile and think, "this sounds like sh@t" at the same time.


    Seriously though, nothing you wrote is unique to you, it's just the way humans are. If it becomes an issue, I have heard (in the classical guitar world) folks will take beta blockers, but I've never tried them myself.




    PS, we generally judge time in relation to our heartbeat. Think about what happens when you perform live, your adrenaline starts to pump and your heart rate speeds up. The result is what feels like a comfortable tempo might be a little faster than you play it at home. So.... Before starting the performance, internally hear the song in your head at the desired tempo (that's what many classical players are doing when they pause before starting a piece). So, when you play live, especially in that style, take the tunes just a little slower, nobody will know the difference, and likely you'll be playing at the desired tempo anyway.

    good luck
    Yes. I find much of my work at a gig revolves around cooling my heels and slowing down, becuse I'm a little juiced to be playing out, etc. Often, before going on, I'll go through snippets of songs I'll be playing, and assuring correct tempo. I also run through a relaxation technique I learnt from high-school drama -- it not only relaxes my muscles, but slows me down mentally, which is really important in this context.
    Last edited by Thumpalumpacus; 10-22-2016 at 03:31 AM.

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolflen View Post
    I take that attitude with me when I play in private or public..I can play..and I like my playing..wrong notes and all...the recovery process from playing something wrong is more important than the preparation to play everything right...and a lot less pressure!!
    This is a great point. Mistakes are inevitable; they will happen. It's what you do when SHTF that matters to the audience. This is another great reason to practice improvising -- because you're building brain circuitry to roll back into the changes, and make it all sound ... intentional -- when everyone here knows we're praying to just get back to the One in decent shape.

    I've walked off stages thinking I've stunk up the joint -- and believe me, I did -- and had audience-members clap my back and tell me how great it was. And then other times, I've walked off thinking I've killed it, just really did it up ... and the audience with their clinking glasses and small talk don't seem to have noticed at all.

    Recovery is a skill that can be learned, and in a field where mistakes are so commonplace, it's a vital skill.

  44. #43
    For me what really has helped has already been mentioned. The audience in most cases want to enjoy the music and see the performer play well. Just by being on stage they will automatically assume you are a good musician and unless you completely blow up are unlikely to notice any mistakes that are glaringly obvious to you the player.

    Learning to play through the mistakes without drawing attention to it is a skill in itself that takes time.

    I think that having a friend heckle you through rehearsal to try and put you off if a very interesting idea I am going to have to try some time.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop View Post
    I play live solo piano on all sorts of bad pianos in different settings. The sound can really bother me. I have to come to solution where I take and ear plug and cut it in half. Then I put a half in each ear... what a relief!!!
    It's like the first time I tried good sunglasses when driving into a glaring sun. It took the harsh edge away, I could focus on the note fundamentals and not all the weird glaring overtone distortion that is so often present in live rooms and with bad pianos. I love [laying solo in ear plugs. It's so calming, I am able to play much more boldly too, I don't recoil from ugly acoustics because I am protected. The sound is very similar (fundamentals) from piano to piano. I can hear better in plugs.

    Then i get in the zone (the flow in sports) and I love playing as long as I am not having some joint pains.
    I don't play piano too good, but on guitar I have been playing solo publicly since ca. 1980 (sometimes in trying circumstances). Like everyone else, I remain a work-in-progress.

    To nervousness in a gig situation: I am high-strung. People, noises, being 'vibed' on the stand, not being in tune, the incompetence other other players or the fact they don't listen can drive me pretty nuts. When I don't focus on music and the 'greater flow' but instead succumb to the lower-level 'everyday' shit, that's the end of music on that particular evening. It's my decision and my ass.

    We have to find a way, then, to 'listen louder'---or we will never tap into that stream where the music plays us. I have a few brews, tell or listen to a joke, flirt with cute female barflies to relax.

    Whatever it takes for YOU, look into and apply it. The rest of your life starts right NOW. Dig?
    Last edited by fasstrack; 10-25-2016 at 06:50 AM.

  46. #45

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    totally anecdotal addition to this fun thread:

    I dealt with this before...as a lot of my gigs are solo/improv with a looper, I thought it'd be a good idea to smoke a joint... (i knew the venue owner too, he did not care--so i wasn't being a total jerk )

    suddenly I felt like I was in a master's degree jury with allan holdsworth, tom quayle, and jeff berlin scowling in disgust...so paranoid for half a set. i felt more nervous playing for 30 people than I did when I was a nashville sideman/bass player and would play for thousands. ...folks enjoyed the set and said i played well, but my nerves were more shot than when i started...

    honestly, the thing that helps me the most, personally, is just to approach the stage with the mindset "i've done this a million times, no big deal" ...and not smoking the front cover of a high times magazine before going on (used to be great when I was 20, in a jam band, and everyone in the audience was tripping out)

  47. #46
    I've tried all kinds of stuff from mental to physical.. meaning over-practicing. Nothing worked well. Until one day I got to think about a chick from Belarus who practiced like she was performing.. hmm... and then suddenly got flashbacks from more players who do that - all excellent performers with 0 stage fright. I was in the dorm room with a guy from Finland who sighed, sulked.. then picked up the guitar and played like there was 1000 people listening to him.

    So, then I tried to practice the same way - imaging that I was perfoming to a big audience and no matter what happens, this piece has to come out right from start to the end. Funny thing was that I got nervous ALONE in my room while doing it But after 10 times, it was fine. And a few days later when I needed to play it live, it was fine. That simple trick solved the problem for me.. it took about 10 years. It has worked well with my students also.

    Another thing that calms me down is just to imagine how that live will go, who'll be there, what the atmosphere will probably be and if there is no extreme pressure(any kind), it just goes.. It's life. and a job sometimes. And people are nice. Probably


    have to edit: practicing that way didn't "help". It completely fixed the problem. And with many of my students as well. One nervous one had a terrible terrible time going on stage in front of all the school and teachers altough she had learned her pieces very well. She got sick, almost. Next time we did the training and she was damn proud on the stage, got an A and people were cheering. I suspect that natural born artists do it automatically. Geeks like many of us have hard time.
    Last edited by emanresu; 10-26-2016 at 02:49 PM.

  48. #47
    Gosh the forum didn't let my reply in and not gonna rewrite that page.. Long story short -
    Tried a lot, mental and physical. And finally this actually solved it:
    When a piece was well learned, I played it while imagined performing it to audience. Thats it. I've seen many great classical players do it so finally tried it too. Works like magic.


    Although I still feel too self conscious when trying to play jazz impro to someone. That just means i'm not ready for it quite yet

    Also helps if imaging how the next live will go, what crowd will be there, the atmosphere etc. If there is no extreme pressure of any kind, it just goes. People are mostly nice too.

  49. #48

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    These folks have the 'bona fides' if you've any doubt.

    Possibly of interest:


  50. #49

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    Hi
    IM dealing with this now in the big band i play in. I play music fulltime, do alot of gigs and im not nervous at all. Yes alot are wall paper gigs, some concerts etc. Ive been playing in this big band and im doing the Freddie green thing. Not really having a problem with the charts..I do get some solos and this is were it has been getting where its hit or miss for me and i kinda psych myself out. I have to stand up, spot light on me, 15 piece band watching, audience in front of me watching and i have to come up with a solo over some tougher changes on a few of the songs..AND the chart is at my knees, (its those cardboard fold up stand) hard to see that far down, of a song ive maybe never played. It can be nerve racking actually..I was looking into those beta blockers for this gig LOL. geez..

    any pointers?

  51. #50

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    Well, at least play the songs before the gig. What are they doing having you play songs you don't know and trying to solo on them?

    Do what the horn players do: work out the bones of a solo at home and play that at the gig with embellishments.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke