Stage fright!!

DiAmoroso

Member
Messages
367
Get your energy up before you're on the stage. Jump around a bit, maybe jumping jacks, get your heart going. Try power poses, arms up like you're intimidating an animal, then hands on your waist like you're a mother scolding a child. These sound silly, but they're actual techniques my vocal teacher taught me, and they really work.

First thing when you get on stage own it. Walk all over it, it belongs to you. Face the audience (or empty space where the audience will be), put your hands out and take a bow like it's a stadium cheering for you. Again, sounds silly, but now you're acting silly, thinking silly, and feeling silly, not anxious.

Those are the physical aspects that help me. Mentally, my problem is always feeling like I'm not playing or singing as well as I can, and getting hung-up on any small mistake I make. That needs to be let go of. The audience really doesn't notice your mistakes unless you let them. Most of the audience will assume you're doing well until you prove otherwise. Do not shake your head, or make a face, or perform any actions that will cue the audience that you've made a mistake.
 

Twoinch

Member
Messages
77
Get your energy up before you're on the stage. Jump around a bit, maybe jumping jacks, get your heart going. Try power poses, arms up like you're intimidating an animal, then hands on your waist like you're a mother scolding a child. These sound silly, but they're actual techniques my vocal teacher taught me, and they really work.

First thing when you get on stage own it. Walk all over it, it belongs to you. Face the audience (or empty space where the audience will be), put your hands out and take a bow like it's a stadium cheering for you. Again, sounds silly, but now you're acting silly, thinking silly, and feeling silly, not anxious.

Those are the physical aspects that help me. Mentally, my problem is always feeling like I'm not playing or singing as well as I can, and getting hung-up on any small mistake I make. That needs to be let go of. The audience really doesn't notice your mistakes unless you let them. Most of the audience will assume you're doing well until you prove otherwise. Do not shake your head, or make a face, or perform any actions that will cue the audience that you've made a mistake.
People with anxiety or panic issues tend to not benefit from "getting their energy up"

Heart rate increases and adrenaline dumps are often anxiety inducing, and then compounded by the anxiety itself.

One bad side effect of anxiety attacks for many, is numb hands. Doesn't work well while playing guitar..
 

Twoinch

Member
Messages
77
How do you guys deal with stage fright? And please don’t say a swig of Jack Daniels or Xanax!

For 20 years I was able to play in front of audiences, even large ones. One time about 10 years ago I was playing a guitar solo with an audience of about 200 and they put the spotlight on me and BAM, instant MAJOR panic attack! Like I thought I was going to pass out type of attack.
From that point on Ive really struggled with stage fright. Even playing in front of a few people really triggers it...but it’s strange, I’d have to be on a stage to have panic...I resorted to taking a small hit of Xanax but I can’t anymore due to a medical issue.
Any ideas what to do to avoid getting extreme panic on stage?
Have you tried CBD? I have found that CBD "flower", which is just weed(hemp actually) that grows with no THC and high levels of CBD, can help with similar issues. No high/intoxication involved. No red eyes. No munchies. Just mild relaxation kinda effect. Does seem to help with music appreciation a bit too, to a much lesser degree than regular thc laden pot.

Worth a shot imo. Works well for some. Other have zero effect.
 

DrumBob

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
17,051
I stopped having stage fright after the second time I played drums in front of an audience. I guess I was fortunate, but the first time I played a guitar gig in a bar, I had a full-on panic attack, and I'm not the kind of person who has panic attacks. I was convinced that I wasn't ready, that the band wasn't ready, that I'd suck and make mistakes. I wanted to leave, but it was too late. After the first couple of songs, things got better. Yes, I did make mistakes, but nothing that stuck out too badly. Hopefully, nobody cared or caught them. After the first set was over, we got applause and I was OK.

OP, I'd recommend you seek help for this issue. I'm not sure what kind of help, but perhaps a psychologist could help. In any event, good luck.
 

TonePilot

Supporting Member
Messages
3,923
How do you guys deal with stage fright? And please don’t say a swig of Jack Daniels or Xanax!

For 20 years I was able to play in front of audiences, even large ones. One time about 10 years ago I was playing a guitar solo with an audience of about 200 and they put the spotlight on me and BAM, instant MAJOR panic attack! Like I thought I was going to pass out type of attack.
From that point on Ive really struggled with stage fright. Even playing in front of a few people really triggers it...but it’s strange, I’d have to be on a stage to have panic...I resorted to taking a small hit of Xanax but I can’t anymore due to a medical issue.
Any ideas what to do to avoid getting extreme panic on stage?
Yup, one weird experience is enough to start someone having these issues when it never was a problem before. Toastmasters is likely your best bet for dealing with this. That and doing it again and again and again.
 

rizla

Supporting Member
Messages
905
[/QUOTE]
How do you guys deal with stage fright? And please don’t say a swig of Jack Daniels or Xanax!

For 20 years I was able to play in front of audiences, even large ones. One time about 10 years ago I was playing a guitar solo with an audience of about 200 and they put the spotlight on me and BAM, instant MAJOR panic attack! Like I thought I was going to pass out type of attack.
From that point on Ive really struggled with stage fright. Even playing in front of a few people really triggers it...but it’s strange, I’d have to be on a stage to have panic...I resorted to taking a small hit of Xanax but I can’t anymore due to a medical issue.
Any ideas what to do to avoid getting extreme panic on stage?
if you previously didn't have anxiety around this, and then suddenly got an honest-to-god Tony Soprano style panic attack, it's not stage fright.

Panic attacks might have underlying causes, or they might just be the way your brain works now. Either way, I'd visit a psychologist to get some input. Psychiatrist will just prescribe you drugs.
@R2-DD2 bought up the same thing that struck me about your post.
I gigged for about 30yrs with nothing more than the occasional pre gig butterflies, then one night I felt a massive wave of what I thought was stage fright. It was horrible. Every gig after had the same sense of dread with it along with the excitement.
I was having anxiety attacks. Not from gigging, I can do that standing on my head(figure of speech). I just all of a sudden had anxiety and it came from sources other than gigging but it affected all aspects of my life.
Im better now. :)
 

PAFunk

Member
Messages
20
I am not yet to the point where I would want someone to listen to my guitar playing but I do have experience in public speaking. I did the Toastmasters thing for about 5 years. I believe that experience translates to this issue. This isn’t Toastmasters cannon, but what I found most impactful in my public speaking.

First, preparation! Get your material down backwards and forwards. Don’t memorize it. Internalize it. Understand it. Make it part of you. It needs to be like your favorite memory, that story of epic proportions that you find a way to fit into conversations whenever possible. Your mindset in preparation should be to get to the point of “I can’t wait to play this for some people.”

Think about expressing the song instead of playing it. Try to convey a message. If it’s not your material think about the original artist intentions. This mindset will allow you to internalize the song and will focus your headspace and allow you to execute the material more precisely... and even if you do miss it will be more like improvising than falling on your face.

The next step is repetition. Play in front of people as much as possible. Play for your significant other or roommates. Play your kids a bedtime song. Set up a warm up gig. Have a bbq for friends and family. Sit on a park bench with an acoustic. Whatever it is you need to do to con people into watching you practice your art do it. Performing takes practice just like locks and chords.

Third remember this is a performance. Your stage persona doesn’t have to be completely genuine. Be whoever you want to be out there. Wear something different than your street close to get you in the performance mindset. When on a stage in our mind everything we do is magnified, but for the audience it is exactly the opposite. No one is paying nearly as much attention to you as you are. So don’t be afraid of going for it. Be over the top. Believe me a confident failure looks way more like success to the audience than insecure mediocrity.
 

GCDEF

Supporting Member
Messages
27,640
I wouldn't take any of the advice that involves chemicals or intoxicants. If you get high, you'll get sloppy and if you get sloppy, you'll lose confidence. If you lose confidence, you'll get more nervous.

I can't tell you how to do it, but you need to teach your brain to process nerves as nervous excitement.

Another thing that's really important to me is good stage sound. If the mix is bad where I'm standing, I tend to focus on or worry about the mix, rather than playing. Again though, you need to develop the mindset of you're going to be having a lot of fun. People look to the band as entertainment and the life of the party, not for note for note musical perfection.
 

Suave Eddie

Member
Messages
10,997
How do you guys deal with stage fright? And please don’t say a swig of Jack Daniels or Xanax!

For 20 years I was able to play in front of audiences, even large ones. One time about 10 years ago I was playing a guitar solo with an audience of about 200 and they put the spotlight on me and BAM, instant MAJOR panic attack! Like I thought I was going to pass out type of attack.
From that point on Ive really struggled with stage fright. Even playing in front of a few people really triggers it...but it’s strange, I’d have to be on a stage to have panic...I resorted to taking a small hit of Xanax but I can’t anymore due to a medical issue.
Any ideas what to do to avoid getting extreme panic on stage?
Does the stage fright/panic mode continue throughout the performance, or is just initially and smooths out after you get going?
 

Jon Silberman

10Q Jerry & Dickey
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
40,854
Reframe your fear as excitement. This simple cognitive behavioral strategy has been proven by neuroscientists and pyschologists to be remarkably effective.
I can't tell you how to do it, but you need to teach your brain to process nerves as nervous excitement.
OP, this is how (you can easily find many more helpful videos and articles but this will get you started):

 

mjross

Member
Messages
2,240
I wouldn't take any of the advice that involves chemicals or intoxicants. If you get high, you'll get sloppy and if you get sloppy, you'll lose confidence. If you lose confidence, you'll get more nervous.

I can't tell you how to do it, but you need to teach your brain to process nerves as nervous excitement.

Another thing that's really important to me is good stage sound. If the mix is bad where I'm standing, I tend to focus on or worry about the mix, rather than playing. Again though, you need to develop the mindset of you're going to be having a lot of fun. People look to the band as entertainment and the life of the party, not for note for note musical perfection.
Like I said in an earlier post, once the sound is dialed in you’re good to go! I still stand by the shot of Crown.
 
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Messages
4,352
Any ideas what to do to avoid getting extreme panic on stage?
Preparation, preparation, and preparation.

You need to be able to commit songs to muscle memory so that your hands can act independently from your brain. Practice your songs at home sitting down, standing up, while talking to someone else, while watching TV, etc. Find the problem areas of your solos where you're bound to screw up and then come up with a game plan of where to go when that happens.

You can't avoid panic on stage. It happens. You just need to learn how to deal with it. Confidence in your material is key. When that spotlight comes on, tell yourself: "Okay, now is NOT the time to suck!"
 

Hulakatt

Supporting Member
Messages
13,112
I realize that I'm very fortunate to not really know what this all feels like. I've been performing live, on stage in front of people since 7th grade. I think I just focus on my fellow bandmates more than the crowd and if we have fun, everyone has fun? Keep it fast and loose and don't overthink it.
 
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MilesMitchell

Member
Messages
845
I've had anxiety for every single show I've played. From the jazz band performances in high school, to the five drunken people in a bar and all the way up to the 2,000 person crowd. I had a routine for the latter. 10 minutes before we were set to go on I'd usually get in the zone. I'd put on clips from my favorite live shows to amp me up. Breathing is super important and finally just powering through it.

I once dropped a stick (I'm primarily a drummer, don't kick me out) in front of 1,800 people. I kept my calm, leaned over to pick up another out of my bag (ALL WHILE HOLDING THE BEAT) and kept playing. The crowd went nuts. I had a smile on the entire time but on the inside it was pure HORROR at first. My guitarist walked over, picked up the stick, hit a cymbal and the crowd went nuts again.

So like others mentioned - breathe and have fun. The crowd is right there with you. If you have fun, they're having fun. My worst stage fright memories are from when a band would mess up and STOP the song to start over, or show their frustration. Not cool.
 

bryan zink

Member
Messages
8
I don't get stage fright too bad, though I've def had my choke moments, and I often flub things in ways that the audience doesn't notice. But if it helps--I sometimes find that when I'm real audience conscious, I don't play as well--and then I try to redirect my attention to getting lost in the music, and the feeling of it, which usually helps--maybe that could help?

(But another recent post is reminding me that my stage presence sucks. That may not be from focusing on the music as much as other personal traits though.)
 

meterman

Member
Messages
7,877
I struggle with it too, sometimes wonder why I keep doing it lol. The best things you can do are be well prepared on the material, have your gear in working order with backups, and get there early so you have plenty of time to set up, soundcheck and then relax. Nothing worse than feeling unprepared, rushed and some Murphy's law gear glitches to cause anxiety and ruin a gig. Deep breathing helps alot, if you pay attention you'll notice when you're anxious you're not breathing or breathing very shallow.

On the supplement side, I've used kava regularly for 20 years and it helps a whole bunch. Natural, non-addictive, and takes the edge off with zero impairment. I've even taken it before exams in school and for professional certifications, helps to clear the mind of anxiety and let you focus on the task at hand. I've also found the Olly Stress gummies with GABA to have a similar effect. Very mild, you won't even know you've taken anything you're just more relaxed and less worried. Beyond that I've taken beta blockers a few times for high pressure gigs and public speaking. Again non-impairing but actually blocks the unconscious symptoms of anxiety and panic like shaky voice, rapid breathing, dry mouth, stomach jitters, etc.

A drink can help take the edge off but it's a fine line between loose and sloppy in my experience. Weed amplifies your state of mind so if you're already anxious it can make it much worse.

Good luck!!
 

RoadShow

Member
Messages
16
I'm an engineer by trade, so by nature an excessive introvert. Besides playing guitar, often I have to get up in front of genius engineers and present training material. My stomach gets in knots, but with a lot of prep I just get started and in 10 seconds I'm on a roll and just having fun engaging. When someone has a question the fear comes back until I hear the question and then I'm OK.

I also drive a funny car. Same thing. I sit in staging thinking I must be out of my F'ing mind. But with my team we have performed for years and prior to going up we discuss the whole routine even though we have been through it hundreds of times and it gives us all reassurance and calms me down. I'm a nervous wreck until they give us the sign to start the car, and I instantly become calm because suddenly I'm busy, for a couple of minutes anyway... I've been asked if the crowds bother me, nope, my eyes never leave the center of my lane, I never see the crowd.

So like others have posted, rehearse until it's second nature and when it's time just step into it and enjoy.
 




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