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I'am to nervous to play!

Posted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 9:56 pm
by jason wilhelm
Well I have been playing guitar for over 14 years now,and one thing I can never get over is playing in front of people! It's hard for me to just try out a guitar pedal without looking over my back!When I was younger I did'nt care what anyone thought,so it was much simpler.Now that I have gotten older,developed my own style,and quit learning other peoples music(not that there's anything wrong with that!)it seems even harder.Alot of people say you get better the more you play out,but that chance is far and few between anymore.Needless to say I'am jamming with a band on the side playing cover tunes(changing them around a little bit)and having fun.However it's been a while since I have played out,and were supposed to play a show in July(plenty of time for practice!)It scares the shit out of me!It really pissses me off because I know I'am a good player,but when I get in front of people it makes me shake!(including my hands!).Getting smashed is not an option(nor getting High)so the easy remidies are out.Any suggestions!I know I'am not the only one with this problem,but I rarely read of other players on how they handle this other than getting drunk,or buzzed!

Posted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 10:45 pm
by -SkiZ-
hmmm...tough question indeed. well I have no problem playing in front of people, i just don't think too much about it. maybe we're in a totally different situation, i've played for like 5 years or so, and I play in 2 metal bands, and at bars with a small only problem that i just stand there and play, no head banging nor showing any kind of excitement, wich is something i must change.
but anyway, try not to get overwhelmed by the audience(small or large). if you've come up with your own style, and developed your own thing, show it proudly(but not cockily hehe) to the people. try transforming that fear into excitement and joy 8)
i don't know...

Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 8:37 am
by Ricardo
No need to get "smashed", but you may think to have A SINGLE drink to relax you a bit. Or a shot. It is mainly psycological, you are not so confident in your performance, worry too much about mistakes, etc. But once the thought is there, it becomes physical, your adrenaline gets going. It often makes peoples timing go off too, because they rush. It is so common. The physical part can be controlled with the drugs or alcohol, really. I mean take a valium if it is really that bad. But it starts in your mind. So if you can meditate or something before you play, then you won't need anything.

But don't feel like you are the only one that has this problem, and is afraid of becoming a drug addict or alcholic. A single drink can help, and unless you perform every day, don't worry about relying on it forever.


Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 9:31 am
by another virtuoso
plus if your playing a whole show, surely by the end of it you'll see that the audience is just there to have a good time and not hanging on your every note waiting for you to mess up so they can throw tomatoes at you.

Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:04 am
by j3
You might learn to calm your fears by changing your point of reference. When I started, it scared me to death to play rock guitar in front of people--(it didn't help that I had a monster pedal board and about 50 cables before the amp). Then, when I started playing classical piano recitals, my fear of playing rock guitar in public went away, when I started playing classical guitar recitals, my fear of classical piano recitals went away. Classical guitar recitals still make me nervous but coffee house gigs don't. Occassionally inderol (blood pressure medication) is the only fix for nervousness the first couple times I play a new program but the good thing about it is that there is no 'high' associated with beta-blockers, hence nothing to get addicted to. French horn players have used beta blockers almost since their invention. This is something your doctor would need to prescribe, but most Dr.'s are aware of the use of beta blockers to supress anxiety and yours will likely understand. Sometimes it makes me a little more tired than I would like to be-- and maybe less emotive. Nonetheless, I have NEVER experienced shaking under medicated conditions. Another positive side effect is that I'm more polite, better at taking compliments, after the concert. In 9 years I still haven't depleted my initial prescription. The point is that it's not really a drug so much as it is a chemical balance issue. When you exert yourself physically you can replace electrolytes with sports drinks, when you are taxed with anxiety, you're probably better off balancing your system than risking the psychological harm associated with blowing the performance. Blowing it every now and then when you gig regularly is probably good for you, but if you rarely perform, I personally wouldn't risk it--given the alternatives.

Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 12:09 pm
by Angry Chair
I wouldn't worry mate it does go after a while. After the first song your nervous energy will turn into the adrenalin you will need for the rest of the show. I used to be (and still am) nervous before I play in front of people (the smaller the audience the worse for me) and I even refuse to play in front of people in my own house if they come over. But one time I was at the ACM her in the UK and we had the option of playing some emotive blues.

I was really nervous about playing and I knew that there were players better than me (i've been playing about 20 years now), and the teacher was damn good also but I could have remained sat in my seat and not played but I knew I would have kicked myself after for not having a go. So something took over me and I had a go. I'll be honest in that I made some duff note choices but strangely the thought of there being players better than me and being judged didn't come into my mind at all. The music took over. And it felt great...And from what some people in the audience said I was pretty good....!!

Nerves are good though as it shows you care about what you do. You just have to find a way to master them and not have them master you. You can do it though mate. I remember EVH once saying that he throws up before every gig due to nerves.

All the best with it though mate..



Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 4:30 pm
by funnyguy12
I dont know if this helps, but Im somewhat of a competitive person. and when i hear people at my local guitar center playing good, i have to turn my self up and start shreddin. But its weird tho for my case.

Like , Ill be practicing in my own room and my dad will walk in from time to time. I get so nervous, i stop playing. Like i know im good and im not afraid to play in front of people.(ive had my share of piano recitals too). But i cant play in front of my family for some reason.

Like if i have relatives visiting, my mom would say how much of a good guitar player i am and then she would ask me to play. I would just start to sweat for some weird reason. But i dont know why. Im comfortable in front of people i dont know, but with people i know its nerve recking.

Does anyone know why?

Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 8:45 pm
by jason wilhelm
Thanks for all off your insight so quickly!You all have very good points.It's nice to know that sometimes (as guitar players) that other than being Vai fans we can share these ideas.Hopefully we (and I espically) can hear more from others as well! Thanks

Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 10:50 pm
by another virtuoso
funnyguy12 wrote:Im comfortable in front of people i dont know, but with people i know its nerve recking.

Does anyone know why?
i'm like that. i use to be REALLY like that, but not so much anymore. i remember my dad getting angry with me because he bought me a guitar and i had never played in front of him for the first couple years i started playing. its not a big deal anymore.

i think its because with people you know you feel like you've got to meet some standards. you dont want them to think anything other than the best of you. with random people you dont know, then you dont care because their opinion to you does not matter.

Posted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 5:43 am
by joshua202020
Just think that the audience really likes your playing and that they would applaude you in the end.. that would eliminate most worries..

Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:46 pm
by vukvai
J3 is right.
I do the same thing... I have a bit of performance anxiety problem, and before the gig i take 1 beta-blocker ( such as Inderal) and it really helps..
The physical symptoms go away, no more shakiness, and they stop the adrenalin from pumping , and generally slow down your heart rate....
Beta blockers have been known as "musicians drug" and a lot of people take it, specially orchestra musicians...
I must agree with j3 that it does make me a little tired,,,but not that bad...Glass of Coke fixes it...
All I'm saying is , it works for me and i strongly advise it...Go see your doctor
and tell him about your problem.
My 2 cents :lol:

Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 7:15 pm
by Janitor
hey you said nothin g about ridalin, no im joking you just got to play it over and over untill its second nature and just not worrie so much. shure i get nervus when i performe but you just got to play through it (i have a bad habbit of getting rubber legs :lol: )

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2007 6:47 am
by Derek
I don't have much advice, only viewpoints.

In my experience, when I was playing classical guitar performances I would be extremely nervous going in as it is just me that everyone is staring at calmly. At this point, all I do is shows with a band, mostly cover tunes. People come to the shows to have a few drinks with friends and have a good time, not critique my technique or lack thereof. I have no fear of playing with a group of musicians unless there is an extremely small audience. The larger the crowd is, the less self-conscious I am, as I figure they aren't staring at my fingers ready to tell me how many wrong notes I played. We just have fun. Anyhow, I often hit wrong notes and it is very rarely noticed, since it's in the past before people realize there may have been a microsecond of unintended dissonance. Every once in a while I botch things up royally going to major instead of minor, or similar mistakes, and then everybody (me included) gets a big laugh out of it later and nobody gets angry or critical.

Play in the moment, enjoy the attention you get and the applause that almost always follows a song, and go with it. Nervousness comes and goes, but nervousness could be your friend. It can heighten adrenaline which heightens focus. Sometimes when you're nervous you'll play better. No way to get comfortable with it outside of just doing it. Visualize the situation in advance and get comfortable with the feelings of butterflies, you might welcome them as a precursor to something exciting. I actually had a fortune cookie with my meal Monday that said "it's okay to have butterflies in your stomach as long as they're all flying in formation."

Enjoy it!

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2007 7:18 am
by Lotus Eater
Yeah remember it's about having fun. Try brining up an inside joke to your band members before you get on stage. The best thing to do is laugh your ass off right before you play. Then when you make mistakes, you can all laugh about it at the same time because you'll all be primed and ready to have a good time.
Also; I'm sure other people just develope an ego before bouncing on stage,
that way when you get attacked emotionally- it isn't a sting at you. Next show you can change the alter ego to find one that doesn't offend. Or just be your self if you have the confidence to do so.
I am a bit of a perfectionist, so I thought every gig was a chance to change the world. But one day you look back on old videos of yourself playing and think - Wow, no one in the audience really notices anything.
Not everyone is a musician.

Posted: Sat Mar 31, 2007 12:05 am
by Roger
Maybe you should ask yourself why you get nervous. Is it because you're afraid of screwing up? Making a fool out of yourself? That the audience is going to think that you suck?
Whatever the reason is, it's almost always depending on how large your comfort zone is. It's all in your head.
If you're afraid of screwing up, then get to know your material so well that it becomes second nature. People almost always lower their playing level a little bit when playing live. If you know your music REALLY well, then it doesn't matter if you play a little worse live cause it would still kick ass.

If you're afraid of making a fool out of yourself, go see a shrink. :mrgreen: Just think about Whitesnake. They all used to roll around the stage competing for attention, and everybody still thinks they're cool.

The audience usually only remembers beginnings and ends and not much in between. So if those are good, they'll think that everything is good. Most people aren't asshole-i'm-better-than-you-you-lousy-piece-of-shit-musicians. There may be one or two of those at every show, but who cares about them? In fact, there usually aren't many musicians at all att shows. People don't hear mistakes unless it's accidentally stepping at the chord so it pops out of your guitar.

It's true what somebody wrote that the more you play live, the more comfortable you'll be and less nervous. Think about the first time you went to school. Were you nervous? I was. And everytime I changed schools. But after going there for a zillion times it becomes ordinary and nothing to worry about.

I think that drinking before a show is lack of respect for the audience. I hate paying to go see someone and then they're wasted. One beer or drink can easily become two or three.

One more thing. When you feel the nervousness or anxiety coming, sit down somewhere where you can be alone. Close your eyes and breath slowly and deep. Fighting it will only make it worse. Works for me at least.

Ok I'll shut up now.