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When will I be good enough to perform?

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(@jonsi)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 128
Topic starter  

I've been playing for two years now (plus a couple of years with teacher before I turned teenager) and I write a lot of songs. I have a problem - I can't play my songs without playing wrong. Even the simplest ones. Especially not when someone is listening.

A couple of months ago I recorded a song. I think I recorded it over 100 times (It's true!) before I made it. That's not good...

So, how do I overcome this problem?


   
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(@artlutherie)
Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1157
 

Relax!!! And breathe . Go to Jamie Andreas site http://www.guitarprinciples.com/
He's got lot's of advice on not tensing up when you play.

Chuck Norris invented Kentucky Fried Chicken's famous secret recipe, with eleven herbs and spices. But nobody ever mentions the twelfth ingredient: Fear!
ChuckNorrisFactsdotCom


   
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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

Sounds as if you suffer from stagefright -- something that applies both to performance and recording. You need to build some confidence and also understand that others -- especially non-musicians -- are not nearly as critical of your playing as are you. You simply need to get used to playing in front of people and a recorder. The recording issue is the easier to address. Just make it a habit to record much of the time you practice. Soon you will begin to get used to the fact that it's always there, plus you will benefit from two things: You will get to review your playing in a more critical fashion, which will allow you to zero in on needed improvements. Secondly, you will capture some real gems every once in a while -- examples of your playing you will like and enjoy. This is good for confidence.

As for playing in front of people ... well, you will have to start playing in front of people. Start with one or two trusted friends or family members and simply play one song or maybe just a passage you are practicing. Important: Choose something you can play pretty well. Tell them it's something you are trying out and and ask for his/her/their opinion. Don't promise perfection; don't start with excuses about anticipated mistakes; don't stop at minor mistakes -- just play. You've already said you are "trying out" this piece, so no further explanation needed. Then, let them react, don't put words in their mouths or give clear facial/body language about how you felt. Give them a chance to tell you. You may be pleasantly surprised. When there is criticism, consider it carefully -- separate comments on your playing/performance from comments on the piece itself. The latter may not be significant unless you wrote it or are considering it for performance in front of persons with similar musical taste.

If you find this too daunting, then consider this different approach: find a semi-public area -- family living room, school common area, park, then sit there and play some songs you like to play. People may or may not actively listen. But you will be sort of somewhere between practicing, playing for yourself and playing for others. People won't really know which, and they will give you some personal space. Those that enjoy your playing may come closer to listen. It's a very low pressure situation. It's also a good place to play your originals, as no one can compare them to other versions.

Another thing that makes performance much easier is to do it with musicians. This spreads the audience's attention around among several performers, often lessening the burden on each one.

Good luck. Once you start doing it, it will get easier.

-=tension & release=-


   
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(@panterririst)
Active Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 10
 

Amazing!

Hats off to your honesty, dude.

Dont worry about it. I had the same problem, and it's just that you need to chill about playing on stage, it's not the end of the earth. You could mess up, (but I've never seen that happen!) but dont worry about it. Just make sure you practise enough before you hit the crowds.

Good luck.

"Pain is pure, isn't it?"


   
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(@yoyo286)
Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1681
 

Wow.. this thread is really gonna help me when I play at Antones this summer(It's a famous bar for music, SRV and JV used to hang out around there)

Stairway to Freebird!


   
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(@jonsi)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 128
Topic starter  

art&lutherie: I've allready read Jamie Andreas. It helped me a lot and now I play fairly relaxed. Sp that's not the problem for me, but thanks anyway!

Gnease: Thanks for your advices! I guess there's no more excuses anymore: I have to play in front of people! But it's hard! People around me don't consider me a musician - it's like I'm doing something I shouldn't! Do you understand the feeling? But I can't stop playing, so I guess I'll have to "launch" me as a musician.

Panterririst: Thanks! Yes, I shall not forget to practise...

yoyo286: Don't forget to relax, play in front of friends and practise! =)


   
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(@mattypretends116)
Honorable Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 530
 

The comment on playing in a band is especially true; its much more difficult to play solo versus playing on stage with other people. To my experience, anyway.

Good advice Gnease!

"Contrary to popular belief, Clapton is NOT God. The prospect that he is God probably had a large hand in driving him to drugs and booze. Thanks everyone."

-Guitar World :lol:


   
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(@jimscafe)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 119
 

I have been playing for about 18months now and I played at our company anniversary a couple of weeks ago - 3,500 people..

I did as people earlier have suggested, I put together a band of staff who had played in a band before, we rehearsed only 8 times.

I was nervous as anything on the night, and I made some mistakes (the other musicians admitted they did too, though I didn't spot them - but it was fun and the audience loved it. A few mistakes are no problem and I suspect all musicians make them from time to time.

We played 4 songs and I had to play a simple solo in one of them - it was very easy but I was soooo nervous. I stopped playing the chords a few beats early to make sure my fingers were in the correct position for the solo - it went well, but what the heck it was great.. Have a go..

And I must add the other musicians, although much much better than I, were very helpful and want to get together again..


   
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(@musenfreund)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 5108
 

The secret is -- and you won't realize this until you've had a chance to do it -- that playing for other people is fun. And playing with other people for other people is immense fun. The stage fright will disappear about 45 seconds into the first number when you hear the first appreciative sounds from the audience. It really is a blast. Everyone just gets into the music -- you, the band, and the audience. The music takes over.

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon


   
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(@kachman)
Estimable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 155
 

Thanks for your post Jonsi. I haven't been playing as long as you (I'm 9 months in) but have the same problem. I always start tensing up when I play to a recorder or with people around. And I always seem to make mistakes too. And most of my friends and people around me haven't known me to be the singing or playing type so I know what you mean when you say its like doing what you're not supposed to be doing. But hey, I think the first step is to believe that you are a musician and then they'll start to get it.

Over the weekend I had a couple of friends over and I just picked up my guitar, sat on my stool looking out the window and started playing. I started by imagining they were'nt even there and I was just playing like I usually do by myself. Next thing I know I was really getting into it and putting some emotion in, moving my body to the rhythm, closed my eyes and all. Since it was going fine, I got enough confidence to look away from the window and it was great to see I had their undivided attention - they were all looking right at me. At the end one of my more vocal buddies kidded around about my voice (I took it positively, I know i need to work on that anyway), but they were all just surprised - not just that I can play guitar cos they've seen me strum around before, but they hadn't seen me get into it like that before.

http://www.myspace.com/kachman


   
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(@kingpatzer)
Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2171
 

No magic words for this -- it's something you're just going to either live with or deal with.

Dealing with it isn't as hard as you might imagine, but it is work.

Biggest thing is to imagine yourself playing flawlessly in front of an audience frequently. Imagine everything in detail -- standing off stage and seeing the audience, hearing yourself being introduced, feeling the bottom drop out of your gut as you walk onto stage, the adreneline rush as you start playing, hearing the music as you start playing, hearing the crowd respond ...

The more you visualize yourself overcoming the fear, the less power it will have over you.

Practice relaxation techniques. Deep breathing, that sort of thing. Engage in some positive reinforcement . ..

There's a lot you can try, and you'll have to figure out what works for you. But it is something you can overcome with hard work.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


   
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(@todds)
Eminent Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 40
 

I can't give any advice, because I'm still too terrified to perform in front of other people. Well, I'm getting to the point where I can play guitar in front of others, but I'm still afraid to sing. I am, however, getting more comfortable letting people here what I've recorded. The way I'm starting to look at it is if people want to be hyper-critical about my songs, they can write their own song and see how hard it is.

But what I really want to say is I've never seen anyone perform that played flawlessly and that's what is great about live music. If I wanted to hear something played perfectly I'd stay home and listen to the album (which, by the way, they probably spent dozens, if not hundreds of takes to get right). I actually enjoy seeing mistakes. I think it's great to see a guitarist screw up, smile sheepishly, and then continue through it. When that happens, I just smile with him/her because I kind of feel like we've shared a moment.


   
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(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 5381
 

I've performed many, many, many times. I've sung for Presidents. I've sung at a SRO concert at the Kennedy Center. I've played guitar and sung for friends, parties, strangers. I've acted who knows how many times. I've done professional music theater and even danced in Chorus Line.

I still get the shakes every time. Bad butterflies. Sometimes I can't sleep the night before.

But the thrill of performing, the cameraderie amongst the players, seeing people dance to your music is the best adrenaline rush ever.

By the way, I have never had a perfect perfomance. I never expect to have one.


   
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(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

You're good enough to perform. I guarantee it.

After William Huang's performance on American Idol all subjective measures of being 'good enough' were proven false.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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(@hairballxavier)
Estimable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 93
 

What you need to do is take that adrenaline and make work for you instead of against you. It can make you perform better because it makes your mind and senses more alert, quickens reflexes, and even makes you stronger and faster. Don't fight it, use it.

I don't call it stage fright, I call it getting psyched. I find that it makes me perform better, especially my vocals. I can't sing worth a damn unless there is an audience. When I try to record things it just seems like there is something missing. That feedback, and everybody wanting you to perform for them.


   
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