Upcoming gig and nervous

jmascis

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Hey guys. Now that I got my guild setup and playing nicely, I decided to schedule a gig over Thanksgiving weekend. It's my first in like 20 years. I quit back then because of performance anxiety. But, I want to give this another shot because I love playing music.

Do you have any advice?

I can play pretty well at home, but even going to guitar shops to test instruments I freeze up and suddenly my left hand becomes a death grip claw and might right hand has no idea how to play rhythms (at home this never happens). So if it's that bad in a guitar shop I guess I'm not over this and fear I'll bomb. I'm going to start with some relatively simple songs because of this, but any other tips? I want to get into some kind of zen state where I just don't care and have fun. That's what I keep telling myself. That nobody cares if I flub a chord, etc.
 

Westerly Wood

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congrats on getting out there again and working toward overcoming the fear. that is a brave step.

the more i mess up live, the better i feel. what i mean is, the fear is less as i have done it before, so more likely i will play it better next time, though not always the case :) just easier to let go i mean.

of the simple songs you have settled on, go with the ones you like to play best, the ones you have internalized the most. and whatever happens, dont stop, just move onto the next chord.
 

Brad Little

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Drink heavily. (Just kidding). When I was studying classical guitar, I had more problems with performance anxiety than I ever did playing other styles of music. I found that taking a few minutes to do a relaxation exercise before going on stage helped. On my back (if possible), slow, deep breathing and concentrating on relaxing the parts of my body, starting with the head and working down.
Brad
 
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How did you get the gig? Did they ask for a recording? What is the venue?
I would say it's better to be short and good, than long and bad. In other words, keep the set short. If you can, work up a 45 minute set and repeat it. That may depend on the circumstances, but I know experienced musicians who gave me similar advice.
 

walrus

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When I first played an open mic, I was drenched with sweat when I finished. But each time it got a bit better. I have not done that now for a long time, I'm guessing I would be nervous again.

It's natural to be nervous, I guess, but you have gotten some good advice already. I'm sure you'll do great!

walrus
 

GuildFS4612CE

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If you wear glasses...take them off so you can't see the audience...:hopelessness::cheerful:
 

Rich Cohen

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The more you play in front of an audience, the easier it should get. Happened to me. Confidence should grow on you.
 

jmascis

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Thanks guys, all good tips. Knowing it's normal is probably the best overarching message.
I know it but to hear people relate and acknowledge it somehow helps.

The gig is small, just two songs at some local place where it's easy to play at. I want to work back into this slowly, so this was perfect. Should be under 7 minutes for 2 songs. I'm going to try all the methods here and then get all nihilistic and just think how none of this really matters.
 

dreadnut

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Good luck, just remember the primary objective is: HAVE FUN!

Way to confront your fears. You know, many professional musicians and actors still have "stage fright," and they'll tell you that a certain amount of tension keeps you on your toes.
 

adorshki

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Good luck, just remember the primary objective is: HAVE FUN!

Way to confront your fears. You know, many professional musicians and actors still have "stage fright," and they'll tell you that a certain amount of tension keeps you on your toes.

Ahhh....they all get over it sooner or later but it's sooner with a beer.
And remember the audience actually only hears one mistake for every 3 we make.
:glee:
 
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Like Brad said, breathing is essential! Full breaths, not shallow breathing.
Also, understand that the audience is on your side, they want you to do well! They are looking forward to your set, so go out there and have fun with them! They aren’t going to be looking for, or counting, flubs...they are more interested in your connection to the song. and to them!

And, like I tell my players... there are no mistakes! They are “discoveries”! LOL!
Just enjoy every second of it, be “ in the moment”. Before you know it, it’ll be over and you’ll wonder what the hell you were worried about!
 

Cougar

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I can play pretty well at home, but even going to guitar shops to test instruments I freeze up....
Guitar shops are typically not a good venue to show your chops!

I want to get into some kind of zen state where I just don't care and have fun....
Yep, best just to have fun showing the listeners what you've been practicing. I've never really done one of these open mics that are pretty popular nowadays. I used to play (keys, with a crazy chick blues singer) at the Talent Night at the old Palomino Club in North Hollywood, which I guess is a similar sort of thing (except that had a cash prize to the winner!). Other than the occasional party where I might play a piece or two (it's really just showing off, isn't it?), it's a very rare occasion where I'll be talked into sitting in with the band if there's a keyboard available. 12-bar blues in G, upbeat, 1-2-3-go! Last time, down at the Bayou, I had a blast with the Flanders Group, and I was really surprised when the packed crowd went crazy! Of course, the planets don't always align perfectly - that other time at Red White and Blues in Pasadena with that jazz guitarist was not the greatest performance, but hey, no animals were harmed in the making of that music, so it was OK.

So yeah, just don't harm any animals, and all will be well! :very_drunk:
 

jeffcoop

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Is this a quiet place where people listen hard, or is it a restaurant/bar where the music is essentially background noise? At my own gigs over the past 14 months, I've taken great confidence from the fact that the place I'm playing is loud, and so my mistakes (which are numerous) are unlikely to be heard.
 

jmascis

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Is this a quiet place where people listen hard, or is it a restaurant/bar where the music is essentially background noise? At my own gigs over the past 14 months, I've taken great confidence from the fact that the place I'm playing is loud, and so my mistakes (which are numerous) are unlikely to be heard.
It's pretty quiet, and from what I heard it's mostly other musicians watching in the audience. That's good and bad because they'll hear the errors, but I also hear the musicians are really supportive of everyone. That's the reputation of the place's atmosphere.
 

idealassets

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No solution here, but I liked it best when we had a full band- other players to absorb the first set "warming up". Although most acoustic crowds are a lot better than those old rock bar crowds.

More recently, a difficult solo guitar & vocals that I did was to play a 40 minute opening set at a benefit with the proceeds going to buy a step van for a disabled musician, in other words some money in that crowd. It came down to my totally blowing a song about 5 minutes into the set, so I just quit playing it- Turn, Turn, Turn by the Byrds. In the pause finally everyone clapped, and most didn't know I only gave them 1/2 a song and with no guitar solo or outro part. My next move was to say "thank you" and it apparently went over OK. Little did they know how badly I blew that song, I just stopped it all at once, and never fessed up to the gaff. Fortunately I did not have to "want to get away.." It was not the best vibe from where I was at on that stage, but all ended up OK.
 
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adorshki

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It's pretty quiet, and from what I heard it's mostly other musicians watching in the audience. That's good and bad because they'll hear the errors, but I also hear the musicians are really supportive of everyone. That's the reputation of the place's atmosphere.
I assumed that what I'm about to say was already known to you because you mentioned "playing out" before, but:
Fellow musicians normally have a lot of sympathy/respect for somebody who understands the value of "stagecraft".
SO, don't forget the visual element of your act, (which is also a 2-sided sword).
They're not listening to the radio and focusing exclusively on the music. This is one of the reasons the mistakes go largely forgiven or unnoticed except by other musicians.
They're watching you and whether they even realize it or not, they want some "show" with their sound.
I guess I kind of instinctively grasped this when I was busking, because I was surprised when I started posting YouTube vids, how many people told me they simply liked watching me play because I was having so much fun.
So don't fall into the trap of thinking your music is being scrutinized under a microscope.
Actually your whole act is. That's the other edge of the visual sword, now you've got 2 things to worry about, LOL!
:glee:
SO:
Have your significant other take some cell phone video of you playing, and then you give your presentation some critical assessment.
You might discover that some of your self-perceived weaknesses or mistakes aren't all that big, but that you want to polish up stuff you didn't know was weak, from the backside of the ax.
It'll give you some additional confidence knowing you've taken an extra level of preparation and woodshedding.
Heck you can even turn a goof into an audience hook by saying (or yelling as appropriate) "OOPS!!" with a big ol' doody-eatin' grin.
:friendly_wink:
 
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Nuuska

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Howdy

Just to add some more ice cubes . . . .


When I was living in Minneapolis and playing few gigs around US via NACA - my then friend Leo said that when you play alone on empty stage, all focus is on you. And he definitively should know. With a band you have stage full of drums , amps. guitars, horns - you name it. But when alone on empty stage with a guitar . . .

I agree with selecting "safe" songs - even if they are not up to what you can do - maybe next time, or fifth or so time ...

Afterwards they all are happy you came and nobody points out how lousy you were.


I am not trying to hijack this thread - but since I am going to play public after long time, I will tell what is going on here.

A friend of mine spoke me into playing public after who knows how many years - that gig is coming up on 25th november 2017 - I am going to play some of my own instrumental stuff - perhaps some Leo tune. And then I will in my usual style do what I definitively can not - sing some Joni Mitchell - I am no Caruso ..... So a four song compilation starting with "Circle Game" by Joni - Then "Louise" by Paul Siebel - something more, that suits middle age - and ending with John Prine "Hello in there" describing what happens when we get old.

Audience will be roadies, professional musicians etc with their families - there will be three other performers as well. Most of them know me - as FOH mixing engineer and tape recorder fix-it-man - some even know that I play guitar. Many can play far better than I do - but not my style - HAHAAA. So I play with my style and they play with their - really not comparable - so I think they just enjoy most of the time, and afterwards ask me something like : "How do you do that fingerpicking on 12-string?" - or : "I never experimented open tunings - are they hard to learn?"


So - after all this long jargon - try hard to select two songs, that you are comfortable with, and where you possibly have some personal angle into it.

It will be fine.

Tell us about it afterwards.
 

Neal

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I had to learn just to let go, and go for broke. I ain't getting any younger.

People want to hear you own the song, whatever it is.
 
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