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Shaky Hands Warmup?

Gas Hed

Member
Messages
1,202
I need help with a warmup routine to get my hands and mind relaxed. I am a nervous person in general and when I start playing with others it takes time for me to get comfortable. I don't have a warm up routine and I gotta believe that is a factor that makes things worse. Particularly because if I make a mistake early it becomes a cascading effect...I get tight, my insides are out of wack, my mind goes blank, I start sweating, all that. It's like I need to run a mile or two before practice to get calm. How can I translate that to a warmup routine? Suggestions appreciated!
 

vashondan

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,043
I hear ya. I tend toward that myself. I don't play out but even when I have to play for my teacher I'm a mess for the first half of a lesson. I use centering exercises to calm me down some but I think it might help to do some stretching and shaking out of the arms. Good luck
 

MartinPiana

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,540
I have many approaches I've tried over the years to deal with this infuriating malady but easily the most effective is Ativan.
 

Low Watts

Member
Messages
666
Take an acting or improve class. Not a professional one of course.
Its going to force you to live that uncomfortable feeling until you manage to live with it.

It helped me a lot. I remember one of the first class, we were about 20, and the exercice was simply to go stand in front of everyone and do nothing for several minutes.

Needless to say these 2 or 3 minutes feels like 20 awkward minutes, but it’s going to do wonder to help you tame these unpleasant sensations.

Trust me, I’m a squirrel in a box giving life advice on a gear forum…what could go wrong ;)
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,124
I need help with a warmup routine to get my hands and mind relaxed. I am a nervous person in general and when I start playing with others it takes time for me to get comfortable. I don't have a warm up routine and I gotta believe that is a factor that makes things worse. Particularly because if I make a mistake early it becomes a cascading effect...I get tight, my insides are out of wack, my mind goes blank, I start sweating, all that. It's like I need to run a mile or two before practice to get calm. How can I translate that to a warmup routine? Suggestions appreciated!
How do other instrumentalists warm-up?...that's a clue.
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,124
Not sure what you are getting at, but I have been checking YouTube for ideas. Not all instrumentalists have anxiety like me.
I should ask: what kind of music do you play?
Try some Google searching. I'd say don't confuse your anxiety with lack of preparation and thus confidence. I know that anxiety quite well, which is why I work on music as much as I can.
 

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
24,645
I should ask: what kind of music do you play?
Try some Google searching. I'd say don't confuse your anxiety with lack of preparation and thus confidence. I know that anxiety quite well, which is why I work on music as much as I can.
Well i haven't warmed anything but last night's Pizza for decades. And i suffered from terrible stage fright until about 15 years ago. I dealt with it via self medication. Got over it when I finally got in my skull that the worst that can happen is i play crap and some one might judge me...oh my.
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,124
Well i haven't warmed anything but last night's Pizza for decades. And i suffered from terrible stage fright until about 15 years ago. I dealt with it via self medication. Got over it when I finally got in my skull that the worst that can happen is i play crap and some one might judge me...oh my.
Last Night's Pizza-good title for my next album!
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,124
Chromatic scales. Up and down the neck with various patterns. The main focus is tempo. Play slower than you are inclined to and keep the tempo STEADY!
I was fortunate to watch Metheny do his full warm-up a few years ago. He paused, "you'll probably find this boring". I was practically weeping, it was so beautiful-the freaking warm-up!
When the other band members got on stage to soundcheck, I could see Pat silently doing the old four fret chromatic scale pattern.
 

ivers

Member
Messages
4,281
Working on my breathing helped me a lot to remove that nervous and tight feeling before playing. For me this work was to get into the habit of strict nose breathing. This was something I became counscious of of after my psychiatrist showed me a video with tips for panic attacks. Before this, I didn't realize how much I started to breath with the mouth when I got nervous and stressed. But of all things I've tried, anti-anxiety drugs, group therapy, cognitive therapy..this was the on that was bullseye.

In addition to focus on nose breathing, I'd also count how many seconds between breaths, then gradually trying to increase the interval.

Despite having quite immediate results when I started to observe my breathing and nose breathe when the feeling of stress was starting, it took a very long time to change the habit of overbreathing. With a habit of stressed breathing over time, you'll perhaps need to learn how to let your diaphragm do its job.

Something which helped me was to try to release muscle tension between the eyes. When you're stressed and anxious you might make a furrow in this area. The task I focused on was to stretch this area out to each side rather than pull it together. This somehow helped my diaphragmatic breathing. Other cues might work for other people – the important thing is to reverse the urge to compensate and overbreathe.

Now I'm not as hardcore as some people who don't even allow themselves to mouth breathe when training hard. But making an exception for hard training doesn't seem to impact negatively for the general feeling of calm and wellbeing.

Improving breathing has done much more for calming me down than any anti-anxiety drug or other therapy. That's no to say no one can benefit from these other things or doing all in combination. It's just nice to be aware of possible alternatives IMO.

Now, I still feel nervous as when playing live, but it feels mostly like a mind thing and telling myself that I don't belong there and such. The bodily symptoms, like shaking hands, feelling like the legs will collapse, heart rate going through the roof etc have much improved. WHen the body isn't so out of balance it's much easier to play, even if the mind tells you that you suck.
 

frdagaa

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,486
What you actually play during warm-up is likely to be nearly irrelevant. It would be the routine of it, the centering of your focus. Breathing is key, as @ivers mentioned, and there are other relaxation techniques.

In grad school I had a classmate who was into hypnosis, so I let him hypnotize me and he gave me a post-hypnotic suggestion phrase to help me do self-hypnosis. Ever since then I can say that phrase to myself, and instantly feel the tension draining out of my body. I haven't done that when warming up, or before gigs, but maybe I should try it.
 

derekd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
44,977
Working on my breathing helped me a lot to remove that nervous and tight feeling before playing. For me this work was to get into the habit of strict nose breathing. This was something I became counscious of of after my psychiatrist showed me a video with tips for panic attacks. Before this, I didn't realize how much I started to breath with the mouth when I got nervous and stressed. But of all things I've tried, anti-anxiety drugs, group therapy, cognitive therapy..this was the on that was bullseye.

In addition to focus on nose breathing, I'd also count how many seconds between breaths, then gradually trying to increase the interval.

Despite having quite immediate results when I started to observe my breathing and nose breathe when the feeling of stress was starting, it took a very long time to change the habit of overbreathing. With a habit of stressed breathing over time, you'll perhaps need to learn how to let your diaphragm do its job.

Something which helped me was to try to release muscle tension between the eyes. When you're stressed and anxious you might make a furrow in this area. The task I focused on was to stretch this area out to each side rather than pull it together. This somehow helped my diaphragmatic breathing. Other cues might work for other people – the important thing is to reverse the urge to compensate and overbreathe.

Now I'm not as hardcore as some people who don't even allow themselves to mouth breathe when training hard. But making an exception for hard training doesn't seem to impact negatively for the general feeling of calm and wellbeing.

Improving breathing has done much more for calming me down than any anti-anxiety drug or other therapy. That's no to say no one can benefit from these other things or doing all in combination. It's just nice to be aware of possible alternatives IMO.

Now, I still feel nervous as when playing live, but it feels mostly like a mind thing and telling myself that I don't belong there and such. The bodily symptoms, like shaking hands, feelling like the legs will collapse, heart rate going through the roof etc have much improved. WHen the body isn't so out of balance it's much easier to play, even if the mind tells you that you suck.
Yeah, this is key, imo as anxiety always brings with it a physical component.

Learning breathing and relaxation techniques is huge for reducing anxiety and can have an immediate effect.

@Gas Hed all of us are going to feel a certain amount of anxiety before performing, that's just normal. Understanding that is just part of the experience and not allowing it to take over is important.

Good luck
 

Dana-L

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
611
I need help with a warmup routine to get my hands and mind relaxed.
Bob and Brad are two physical therapists who have posted hundreds of short videos demonstrating exercises related to nearly all parts of the body.

I've found them quite helpful and I suggest you check them out; going through a set sequence of their hand exercises before a guitar performance may help settle the mind a bit while also keeping the phalanges supple.

The following video is an old one, and doesn't have particularly great production values, but it does contain a quick set of hand and finger exercises:


Cheers,

-Dana
 






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