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 Stage fright
Author: Becky 
Date:   1999-08-16 19:53

Yes, this is Becky again. I have a old problem that needs attention very soon: stage fright. I know affirmations really help, but it's hard to do them while performing or at an audtion. Any advice?

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 RE: Stage fright
Author: Ginny 
Date:   1999-08-16 22:50

When I performed (I no longer do, it was never fun anyway) I ended up using betablockers for about two years. This got my body out of the habit of producing those nasty adrenaline rushes that turned my mind to mush. I could concentrate on the music and actually enjoyed playing in public. I found I was able to stop using betablockers after my habit of getting all wired up was broken.

I had been a participant in a study at Stanford U. on stage fright at one point, and I got the placebo. The medication on trial (I forgot the name) was not a betablocker, some of the group had to be pulled off it. People in the study included some of SF Opera's orchestra, SF and Oakland Symphonies and other pros. You're not alone anyway.

They taught us some meditation and other mental ways of dealing with the self critic. This succeeded only marginally at best.

Ginny


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 RE: Stage fright
Author: STuart 
Date:   1999-08-16 23:06

performance anxiety is wild, isn't it?
sometimes i think im going to puke!
i shake, and even loose feeling in my arms. my heart takes off, dry mouth. But gosh, this is rush that costs you quite an admission at the theme park! I believe the fright is energy that can be honed and convereted into performance force. Control really becomes a vague concept when your on stage. I'd read Gallway's "The Inner Game of Tennis." This helped me a bit. I also stretch out and do some untrained meditations before I play a scarey gig. Try taking a moment to tell yourself why your there, where your faith rests, and forget about "I wish, I hope, if only, etc." It gets easier with practice!

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 RE: Stage fright
Author: angella 
Date:   1999-08-17 00:47

i too have a problem with this- i started the inner game, but never finished it. also, "soprano on her head" is another approach to stage fright and all. i've also taken beta blockers- they seem to help. i've heard stories where they really made people play totally unmusically, because they were "too" calm. but... i've never had this problem. if i had something big coming up, i'd take them again.

also.... i've never tried this (well, not yet) but, hypnosis can work for some people, though it takes 3 -6 times probably--- just a thought.

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 RE: Stage fright
Author: Katie 
Date:   1999-08-17 01:40

hi!! stage fright has been a problem for me too, don't worry. the best thing i can do is prepare well. before your performance, be totally comfortable with what you're playing. go into the performance with the attitude that you have played the piece right a million times. also, the audience will wait for you--when you get on stage, take a few moments to gain your composure back. it also helps if you play your piece for strangers before your performance. hope these tips help you!

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 RE: Stage fright
Author: Sara 
Date:   1999-08-17 02:20

I, like the others, have the same problem. I get all shakey and my mouth drys up and I just forget stupid things like how long the rests are supposed to be. I auditioned for all-state this past year and I got fourth chair. Later I met the guy who listened to my prepared piece, and he said after hearing my play it without haveing all that pressure, said that the only difference between the girl who got first and me was not preparedness it was that she was much more relaxed and played with ease, I on the other hand was all tense and shaken up, so you see I think everyone has that problem. I guess it really does get easier with practice
Sara :)

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 RE: Stage fright
Author: Merry 
Date:   1999-08-17 04:10

Does it really get easier with practice? It never did with me. I'd know my pieces just fine but as soon as people were watching me my fingers would freeze and everything I worked so hard for would go out the window. I tried to be rational and tell myself I was being foolish and I was only letting myself down but it was to no avail. I think it is a personality thing, some people thrive on performance and competition and other don't. Now, 12 years after my nervous high school days I find myself in the solo horn (brass tenor horn that- we don't have a concert band in town) position in our local band and my nerves are really no better. I get though the solos OK but I definitely lack the brilliance of the other soloists in the band. Sorry I haven't said anything very positive, you just have to try to deal with your nerves the best that you can. Of course I am really pathetic, I get nervous playing in front of my parents, my boyfriend and even my students.

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 RE: Stage fright
Author: Marci 
Date:   1999-08-17 05:32

Also, another thing you may want to consider is eating bananas for a few days before any audition or performance that you may get nervous for. I know it sounds weird, but bananas have natural betablockers in them and they actually help. =)

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 RE: Stage fright
Author: Becky 
Date:   1999-08-17 17:04

Thanks Marci, I will try eating bananas before an audition. Bananas are also one of my fav fruits.

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 RE: Stage fright- play play play!!!
Author: angella 
Date:   1999-08-18 03:28

merry- and becky--

everyone says it gets better as you go- i think the best way to get over stage fright is to play for people. but, that doesn't just mean once in a while- pros that perform, perform all the time. if you could just grab someone and tell them to come listen to you- a teacher, parent, friend, whomever- just tell them you want to play something- and play. play for anyone that will listen. it's easier said than done, of course- i can't say i do it, but i'm sure that if we all played more often- OUTSIDE the practice room, we'd have less anxiety while performing. maybe play at a nursing home, or something like that, anywhere you can and as often as you can. play in church- whatever. i think this will help- it's getting that' s the hard part- as with anything!

good luck




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 RE: Stage fright-to merry and becky
Author: Greg 
Date:   1999-08-20 04:55

Actually, for problems as severe or as chronic as you describe, NO amount of playing will alleviate one's symptoms. For this, a special class of medications for performance anxiety provides an alternative to the needless suffering that you describe. No one should have to endure that level of fright (a social phobic reaction) for any reason on a short or long term basis.

Check all of the postings under the thread "beta blockers" just above this one on this bulletin board. I and others have a few things to say about this issue.

My very best to both of you...
Greg Smith
Clarinetist
Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Merry wrote:
-------------------------------
Does it really get easier with practice? It never did with me. I'd know my pieces just fine but as soon as people were watching me my fingers would freeze and everything I worked so hard for would go out the window. I tried to be rational and tell myself I was being foolish and I was only letting myself down but it was to no avail. I think it is a personality thing, some people thrive on performance and competition and other don't. Now, 12 years after my nervous high school days I find myself in the solo horn (brass tenor horn that- we don't have a concert band in town) position in our local band and my nerves are really no better. I get though the solos OK but I definitely lack the brilliance of the other soloists in the band. Sorry I haven't said anything very positive, you just have to try to deal with your nerves the best that you can. Of course I am really pathetic, I get nervous playing in front of my parents, my boyfriend and even my students.

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 RE: Stage fright-to merry and becky
Author: Phillip Chance, M.D. 
Date:   1999-08-20 23:15

I completely agree with Greg's advice. As a former clarinetist, turned neurologist I can say that the beta blockers (e.g. propranolol, etc.)are very helpful and can actually help you "de-learn" the fear response (tachycardia, sweating, dry mouth, etc.). While I never used them while playing clarint, I found them very helpful with overcoming anxiety associated with giving talks. Don't let anyone suggest that their use to help you deal with the fear response is any sort of cop-out. It isn't. We differ in our physiological responses to fearful situations. Some of us are more like Jack Russell terriers, while others are more like a Labrador retriever. Beta blockers can be contraindicated in asthmatics. If this is the case be sure to mention it to your doctor. Otherwise they're pretty safe and would not be expected to have side effects at the occassional low dose needed to deal with stage fright. Good luck! Phillip

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