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Stage Fright


NoNaYet
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I play my concertina in public venues all the time. I started out as a forced exercise to overcome my stage fright, which is something I used to do with my fiddle. I never quite mastered it with the fiddle but I am now almost completely comfortable with the concertina in public (purposely choosing locations where I don't think I am intruding).

 

One exception is where there is actually an audience focused on my performance, as opposed to the casual passerby. This still rattles me a little.

 

Well, the big test is this Thursday. I have been asked to play for the quarterly Town Hall meeting where I work. This means performing in a theater, on a stage with lights and amplification, before an audience of somewhere around a thousand.

 

Woooo Hoooo.

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Some general hints to help with stage fright.

 

Be well fed and hydrated. Go to the bathroom before playing. Make sure your hands are clean. Play seated unless you're sure your knees won't wobble. Keep a list of tunes you want to play and things you want to say handy.

 

With all this taken care of, you can go and be as nervous as you want and it will be less likely to ruin your performance.

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Congrats on your upcoming gig. I'm sure it will go well as it sounds like you've come a long way in being comfortable playing in public. I have the same problem and I am definitely not as far a long as you seem to be. When I do play in public, which is not all that often, I've found that my best performances were when I was able to focus on the feeling of my music and not focus on my surroundings (not always easy for me). If I could just bottle that and take a swig before playing, I'd have the problem licked. Best of luck to you.

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When I began to play on stages I had 3 or 4 pints of Guinness before playing; the fear went but is not a very advisable method :unsure: ...

 

What really helped me to get rid of the stage fright was busking. After hundreds of people passing in front of you, nothing scares you anymore at least, on a stage! -.

 

Cheers,

 

Fer

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Great advice here from all. I think the bit about where you look is key (aside from all the tips David made about having a list, being fed, watered and not needing to pee.) Looking at your audience can be great if you are up for it but does add a new element to your playing that is... well, new... if you are not experienced at it. Try practicing while looking in a mirror to get accustomed to it. This simulates the audience thing. Sometimes when performing and I need to focus, I look just above the audiences heads so I'm not really looking at faces but who would know? It's almost as good as looking down but much more professional. The trick is to stay focused on your internal needs (the words, your fingers and instrument, etc.) while allowing the audience into your performance. They want to see your face and feel a part of your experience as a player, so try to be accessible to them, while still taking care of business.

 

Have a great gig!

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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For me, the cause of stage fright is the uncertainty about whether you're going to pull the gig off all right. So the first remedy is to practice the pieces you're going to play until you really have them off pat.

However, even when you've got that far, there's still the uncetainty about whether this will work on stage, which is a different environment. Practising at home, you can noodle around and start playing when you're ready, and even allow yourself a false start. On stage, you have to start when you're announced, and get it right first time, and you're uncertain of whether that will work.

 

The best way to combat this is a "dress rehearsal", as recommended by a friend of mine who is professional musician and teacher:

Get yourself an audience! This could be just one person - a friend, neighbour, spouse, sibling. They don't have to know the slightest thing about music. You can even take the cat or dog (as long as they're not of the kind that starts miaowing or howling when you play!)

Set your audience down comfortably in the living-room, go out, get your instrument, come in again, sit down in front of the audience and start playing. If you make mistakes, keep playing. When you're finished, stand up, walk out of the room - and then come back and thank the audience for helping you.

 

Remember that dress rehearsals are not practice in the sense that they are supposed to improve your playing. They're only to demonstrate to yourself that you can actually play the pieces, one after another, in the required sequence. And the pressure of wanting to do it right is just as great with one listener as with many.

 

However, if you do make a mistake in the dress rehearsal, the chances are that you won't make it during the actual gig, being aware of the pitfall. As the theatre people say, a bad dress rehearsal means a good first night.

 

Hope this helps,

Cheers,

John

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All the advice here is good. A thousand is a lot of people, but I would expect that most or all of them will never have heard a concertina played before and will think that the sounds you are making with that little box are wildly exotic and incredibly impressive. You will really wow them. The toughest audience to play to, on the other hand, is at a concertina workshop were everybody in the room plays the same instrument and is concentrating on every note you play!

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