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JeLeh
02-22-2017, 06:00 AM
Does anyone have tips for increasing self-confidence when playing with or in front of other people? I am used to playing by myself or with my husband, but have recently started a beginnersí group to introduce friends to the ukulele. Iíve given all the instruction I can and now that itís time to start playing a bit, Iíve discovered I get a little performance anxiety. This isnít unexpected as I always experienced this when I was a junior high and high school band student. I never conquered it then, but would like to move beyond it now. Has anyone else experienced this? If so, what tips or techniques did you used to help yourself? I also have members in my group who can really benefit from this. Thanks for any advice!

Debussychopin
02-22-2017, 06:29 AM
This is a great topic one that I have pondered over and discussed on other forums as well. I play piano and have to play in front of class on a weekly basis and the occasional recital in front of public, for three years I have been taking this class and still cannot get over or rid of performance anxiety. It really taxes the piano player more so due to many factors but I'll just say that it isn't about beating anxiety but rather accepting it and using it as part of a mutualisitic relationship, and about the FULL preparation of your work.

Also another key is , knowing how it feels and how to deal with full crash and burn , scenarios where you 'fail' so to speak. I have gone through that several times and in hindsight it isn't too bad at all. And I can use it to my advantage to make something entertaining for audience as well and show a bit of who I am as a person, not only as a musician at that moment. So I don't really fear the crash and burn any more. But I do still have performance anxiety.

RichM
02-22-2017, 06:31 AM
I find playing in a group of people helps a lot-- that is, playing along with the group, rather than leading it. It attunes you to playing in the presence of other people, without the pressure of being "on" all the time. As the group becomes more familiar with each other, some of that may subside-- reinforce that none of us is perfect and we all make mistakes, so that's okay.

I would also focus on some things that can really ruin the group experience:

1. Everybody should have an electronic tuner, or one should be available to those without. Take a break every few songs and everyone tunes up, even those who think they are in tune.
2. Consider having the group play to a metronome, so everyone can stay in time. I've also found that a bassist or a banjo uke player can help provide the reference for staying in time-- but they have to be good at it!

I'm sure you'll get a lot of tips and techniques, but I think those tend to be unique to each person; I've found the only real way to overcome performance anxiety is to build your own confidence in your performance. If that means keeping it simple or playing quietly until you feel ready, then that's okay.

I used to be very nervous about my playing, and embarrassed by my poor singing voice. Now I lead songs in my acoustic music group and sing at the top of my lungs. If you want to be perfect, practice 12 hours a day every day. If you want to have fun, play loud and sing louder.

EDW
02-22-2017, 06:32 AM
Well, as you know, part of it is the more you play, the easier it gets. In addition, you can practice some controlled breathing exercises to slow down your system as you feel the anxiety ramping up. Try to focus on the positives, remembering that everyone who is listening is there to support you. Focus on what you do well and what you have to offer, not on "what if I mess up?". The better prepared you are the less likelihood of a stumble. Even so, focus on what you are doing, not about external pressures (which you have likely created) Enjoy the experience and be able to laugh at yourself if you stumble. It happens to everyone.

Rllink
02-22-2017, 07:56 AM
I think that I have realized that thinking about getting up in front of people and performing is worse than actually doing it. So I try hard not to think about it too much before hand. I like to do open mic, but open mic still scares the heck out of me. Especially if I sit there and worry about it while I wait. Instead, I try to really listen and enjoy the people before me, and after me for that matter. I don't think about it until my name is called to go up. I also do some coffee shop gigs with another musician. In that case I again try not to think about it. I busy myself with setting up equipment. If we get everything set up early, I get something to drink, go outside and I think about something else. Or I find someone to talk to. And when it is time to start, I start. I don't spend any time thinking about starting. After I get started it seems to take on a life of its own and I don't worry about it at all. Busking for me has to be the hardest. It is hard to get going on a street corner with people coming by. I just start as soon as I get set up. I don't wait for everything to be just right, because it won't. If I do wait, I just get a case of the jitters. So that is my experience. When I started out, I would not sing in front of my wife inside our house.

Of course, knowing your songs really well is important, but even so, that doesn't alleviate that anxiety. One thing is that I'm not a perfectionist, and I don't set myself up for failure by setting expectations for myself so high that I make it impossible to succeed. I went out and did my first coffee house gig with the other musician way before I would have thought that I was ready. I did not realize what I had gotten myself into until it was too late to back out. That is a story in itself. But am both lucky and glad that it happened because it was a turning point for me. I also do not compare myself to other performers. I never think that I can't go up there because someone else is better. There is always going to be someone better than me. All I can do is be as good as I am. If one waits until they think that they are ready, it won't happen. So I suggest that if someone has a couple of songs that they can get through pretty well, just go to an open mic somewhere, sign up, and when it comes time to get up there give it everything you have. You will surprise yourself.

kypfer
02-22-2017, 08:23 AM
It's been a while ... but I used to practice into a tape recorder (1/4" reel-to-reel!). When I was happy to listen to the performance and enjoy it I figured others might like it too ... seemed to work :)

YMMV :music:

Doug W
02-22-2017, 12:57 PM
Does anyone have tips for increasing self-confidence when playing with or in front of other people? I am used to playing by myself or with my husband, but have recently started a beginners’ group to introduce friends to the ukulele. I’ve given all the instruction I can and now that it’s time to start playing a bit, I’ve discovered I get a little performance anxiety. This isn’t unexpected as I always experienced this when I was a junior high and high school band student. I never conquered it then, but would like to move beyond it now. Has anyone else experienced this? If so, what tips or techniques did you used to help yourself? I also have members in my group who can really benefit from this. Thanks for any advice!

I think that RichM's idea of mandatory tuning breaks is great. Some people notice when they are out of tune but there are some ukers who may even be great singers but can't hear it when their instrument is a half step south of the border.

With your group, you can have some people playing chords, some people figuring out simple melodies, and give yourself and others short solos of both singing and playing. The group should be a safe place to make mistakes. A keyboard player who used to play with us and compose music had a motto: Dare to Suck!!!

niwenomian
02-22-2017, 01:16 PM
A timely discussion, I've recently gone through something similar. My teacher has asked me to send recordings in order to evaluate progress on the songs we are working on. When I try to play something correctly, it falls apart. The harder I try, the worse it gets. When I "just play" it flows. The psychology is different with the mike on as opposed to simply practicing, as I can only guess it would be if you were in front of an audience. With an audience though, you can't hit stop and do another take.

I ran across this website, bulletproofmusician.com (http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/), and have enjoyed and benefitted from the discussions on musical performance.

Griffis
02-22-2017, 02:42 PM
Take a bunch of beta blockers!

Seriously though, some great advice here. I played in bands from the early 80s. Always loved it, had a blast, no butterflies.

But first time I performed solo I realized it was nothing but anxiety. I rushed songs, made a lot of errors...tuns out I feel I need someone else (or several someones) to play with, play off of...

It was just stressful being up there alone, the sole center of attention, nobody to cover mistakes...

The only things that ultimately helped me were practicing (both solo performance as well as repertoire) and getting older. Just age has got me to the point where I just don't care what anyone thinks anymore.

Now that I've written this, I don't think it's much help. Sorry.

Debussychopin
02-22-2017, 02:56 PM
A timely discussion, I've recently gone through something similar. My teacher has asked me to send recordings in order to evaluate progress on the songs we are working on. When I try to play something correctly, it falls apart. The harder I try, the worse it gets. When I "just play" it flows. The psychology is different with the mike on as opposed to simply practicing, as I can only guess it would be if you were in front of an audience. With an audience though, you can't hit stop and do another take.

I ran across this website, bulletproofmusician.com (http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/), and have enjoyed and benefitted from the discussions on musical performance.

I read that whole site couple years ago I recommend it as well. He has ton of good perspectives. It really comes down to yourself at the moment of performance though. Preparation is trump card

JeLeh
02-22-2017, 03:19 PM
That is true that you can't really beat anxiety, but instead have to work with it. I should have chosen my words more carefully. And you're right - the experience of "fails" is an important part of the journey. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? ;)


This is a great topic one that I have pondered over and discussed on other forums as well. I play piano and have to play in front of class on a weekly basis and the occasional recital in front of public, for three years I have been taking this class and still cannot get over or rid of performance anxiety. It really taxes the piano player more so due to many factors but I'll just say that it isn't about beating anxiety but rather accepting it and using it as part of a mutualisitic relationship, and about the FULL preparation of your work.

Also another key is , knowing how it feels and how to deal with full crash and burn , scenarios where you 'fail' so to speak. I have gone through that several times and in hindsight it isn't too bad at all. And I can use it to my advantage to make something entertaining for audience as well and show a bit of who I am as a person, not only as a musician at that moment. So I don't really fear the crash and burn any more. But I do still have performance anxiety.

JeLeh
02-22-2017, 03:25 PM
I do plan to start out by having this group play together as much as possible in the beginning - mostly to help me ease into it as the so-called leader! ;) Since this is the only group in my area that I know of, I'm practicing playing along with videos in lieu of practicing with another live group. It's so much different than playing solo!

Thank you for the tips for a better group experience! I do intend to take tuning breaks, and I am working on teaching myself to play with a metronome so I can confidently introduce it to the group. I know - it's bad that I haven't already been doing that. It always just stressed me out and so I avoided it. The whole experience of collecting all of the beginner material and learning how to teach it somewhat has been pretty beneficial for me as well. I either missed a lot of this when I started, or it wasn't created yet.

I love your advice about have fun, play loud, and sing louder! It truly embodies the ukulele spirit :)


I find playing in a group of people helps a lot-- that is, playing along with the group, rather than leading it. It attunes you to playing in the presence of other people, without the pressure of being "on" all the time. As the group becomes more familiar with each other, some of that may subside-- reinforce that none of us is perfect and we all make mistakes, so that's okay.

I would also focus on some things that can really ruin the group experience:

1. Everybody should have an electronic tuner, or one should be available to those without. Take a break every few songs and everyone tunes up, even those who think they are in tune.
2. Consider having the group play to a metronome, so everyone can stay in time. I've also found that a bassist or a banjo uke player can help provide the reference for staying in time-- but they have to be good at it!

I'm sure you'll get a lot of tips and techniques, but I think those tend to be unique to each person; I've found the only real way to overcome performance anxiety is to build your own confidence in your performance. If that means keeping it simple or playing quietly until you feel ready, then that's okay.

I used to be very nervous about my playing, and embarrassed by my poor singing voice. Now I lead songs in my acoustic music group and sing at the top of my lungs. If you want to be perfect, practice 12 hours a day every day. If you want to have fun, play loud and sing louder.

JeLeh
02-22-2017, 04:15 PM
I do try to incorporate breathing exercises as a way to deal with normal life, and it really helps! I will try harder to focus on the positives though as I find it too easy to ruminate on the negatives. Maybe this whole experience will help my overall well-being and outlook :) And yes, laughter is always an important component of any enjoyable experience. Thanks!

Well, as you know, part of it is the more you play, the easier it gets. In addition, you can practice some controlled breathing exercises to slow down your system as you feel the anxiety ramping up. Try to focus on the positives, remembering that everyone who is listening is there to support you. Focus on what you do well and what you have to offer, not on "what if I mess up?". The better prepared you are the less likelihood of a stumble. Even so, focus on what you are doing, not about external pressures (which you have likely created) Enjoy the experience and be able to laugh at yourself if you stumble. It happens to everyone.

JeLeh
02-22-2017, 04:20 PM
That's so true that the worry before the event is often the worst part. I've noticed that when I've had to give presentations for work. I'll create a list of set-up things to do to occupy myself beforehand.

I also am working on being less of a perfectionist. I know that isn't a realistic goal and I will always fall short. You're definitely right about not waiting until you think you're ready to begin an endeavor. That's part of the reason I finally went ahead and started this group. I wanted to do it for months, but was always too afraid to actually put myself out there and start it. I decided to finally go for it with the start of the new year, and I'm glad I did though it still obviously gives my nerves a workout!


I think that I have realized that thinking about getting up in front of people and performing is worse than actually doing it. So I try hard not to think about it too much before hand. I like to do open mic, but open mic still scares the heck out of me. Especially if I sit there and worry about it while I wait. Instead, I try to really listen and enjoy the people before me, and after me for that matter. I don't think about it until my name is called to go up. I also do some coffee shop gigs with another musician. In that case I again try not to think about it. I busy myself with setting up equipment. If we get everything set up early, I get something to drink, go outside and I think about something else. Or I find someone to talk to. And when it is time to start, I start. I don't spend any time thinking about starting. After I get started it seems to take on a life of its own and I don't worry about it at all. Busking for me has to be the hardest. It is hard to get going on a street corner with people coming by. I just start as soon as I get set up. I don't wait for everything to be just right, because it won't. If I do wait, I just get a case of the jitters. So that is my experience. When I started out, I would not sing in front of my wife inside our house.

Of course, knowing your songs really well is important, but even so, that doesn't alleviate that anxiety. One thing is that I'm not a perfectionist, and I don't set myself up for failure by setting expectations for myself so high that I make it impossible to succeed. I went out and did my first coffee house gig with the other musician way before I would have thought that I was ready. I did not realize what I had gotten myself into until it was too late to back out. That is a story in itself. But am both lucky and glad that it happened because it was a turning point for me. I also do not compare myself to other performers. I never think that I can't go up there because someone else is better. There is always going to be someone better than me. All I can do is be as good as I am. If one waits until they think that they are ready, it won't happen. So I suggest that if someone has a couple of songs that they can get through pretty well, just go to an open mic somewhere, sign up, and when it comes time to get up there give it everything you have. You will surprise yourself.

JeLeh
02-22-2017, 04:21 PM
I do plan to practice recording myself with a digital audio recorder. I've made some attempts but find that I almost totally freeze up when I start recording. So, obviously I have some work to do, but I will commit to recording (and listening to) myself more. Thanks!


It's been a while ... but I used to practice into a tape recorder (1/4" reel-to-reel!). When I was happy to listen to the performance and enjoy it I figured others might like it too ... seemed to work :)

YMMV :music:

JeLeh
02-22-2017, 04:22 PM
Haha, dare to suck! I love it! I may have to borrow that for our group motto ;)


I think that RichM's idea of mandatory tuning breaks is great. Some people notice when they are out of tune but there are some ukers who may even be great singers but can't hear it when their instrument is a half step south of the border.

With your group, you can have some people playing chords, some people figuring out simple melodies, and give yourself and others short solos of both singing and playing. The group should be a safe place to make mistakes. A keyboard player who used to play with us and compose music had a motto: Dare to Suck!!!

JeLeh
02-22-2017, 04:23 PM
I'll definitely check out that website. Thanks!


A timely discussion, I've recently gone through something similar. My teacher has asked me to send recordings in order to evaluate progress on the songs we are working on. When I try to play something correctly, it falls apart. The harder I try, the worse it gets. When I "just play" it flows. The psychology is different with the mike on as opposed to simply practicing, as I can only guess it would be if you were in front of an audience. With an audience though, you can't hit stop and do another take.

I ran across this website, bulletproofmusician.com (http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/), and have enjoyed and benefitted from the discussions on musical performance.

JeLeh
02-22-2017, 04:26 PM
Lol, I've heard great things about beta blockers, but alas have none. I think you are right about age. Though I don't consider myself confident, I'm definitely more confident and comfortable in my skin than I was in high school, so hopefully that will continue. And practice can't hurt either! ;)


Take a bunch of beta blockers!

Seriously though, some great advice here. I played in bands from the early 80s. Always loved it, had a blast, no butterflies.

But first time I performed solo I realized it was nothing but anxiety. I rushed songs, made a lot of errors...tuns out I feel I need someone else (or several someones) to play with, play off of...

It was just stressful being up there alone, the sole center of attention, nobody to cover mistakes...

The only things that ultimately helped me were practicing (both solo performance as well as repertoire) and getting older. Just age has got me to the point where I just don't care what anyone thinks anymore.

Now that I've written this, I don't think it's much help. Sorry.

lelouden
02-22-2017, 06:54 PM
I wish I would have seen this thread before my last nights crash and burn. It was the first time performing in front of a group in 30 years and the first time ever alone. There is something to be said of the security having others next to you brings.

I went thinking I would be last. Walked in the door and they said your up first. My heart rate flew right out of my chest and before I could get control of it I was up in front. I did learn some things through the experience. You know they say the more you do it the easier it gets and that it makes you better. Not sure I believe that after last night. LoL

Tune up - even if that means your tuning while they are introducing you.....and I did.
Breath- I realized I was out of breath through most my songs due to my pounding heart rate. Breathing took a conscious effort.
Audience participation - I did this with some songs and I was most relaxed during those numbers.
Prepare and practice - Someone gave me the advice to practice the song so much that I was in auto pilot. Great advice! I was so prepared I could play the songs backwards on a good day. However, I did choke. I didn't fall off the horse but I did stutter. If I hadn't been so prepared I would have fallen right out of the saddle.
Play right through your mistakes - as if it didn't happen and if you see that someone noticed just keep smiling.
Believe - Believe in yourself and believe it when others tell you you were great. That second statement for me is really hard to do but looking back I could see they were having a better time than I was. LoL

I am my worst critic. I wish I had recorded the whole thing because I sort of lost my mind and went numb. When that happens your really can't remember the performance. My thinking is that maybe it wasnt as bad as I thought and if I could listen back I could relax about it. For some maybe that would be a terrible idea. IDK, its so personal but I do know that recording and listening back is a valuable practice.

I commend you on leading a group. There are no groups near me either. Ive been told it is a lot of work so have fun with it :)

bunnyf
02-22-2017, 09:56 PM
I've led uke groups and play in several uke and mixed instrument jams as well as play solo, like open mics. In the beginning I was quite nervous and can get a bit nervous even now, after playing for 5 years or so. It certainly does get better though. For me, it was a matter of successive approximation. I started just playing alone, then where family could hear me, then where they could also see me but where they are not just sitting and staring at me. Then I got comfortable with the idea of them paying a bit more attention. Next I ventured out to local uke groups and just participated as part of the throng...no pressure. Soon, I found that I could lead a song of my choice, something easy to play and singable. Eventually, I was playing harder things, in increasingly more public settings. Step by step, I got to the point where I can fairly comfortably perform solo.
Still, I find that practice is key. Never perform a song in public that you are only marginally proficient on. Start being performing dead-easy songs. Nothing alleviates nerves more than preparation. Pick songs you love, that really suit your voice. I can't stress enough how important it is to be certain that you are in a key that is good for you and remember it won't always be the same. G or A is most often best for me but it can vary from song to song and also depends on range. I've said this before, but I've played with some excellent (far, far superior than me)guitar players that unfortunately perform songs that definitely are not in their key. I can hear them getting all quiet and squeaky. They seem resigned to think that they just have bad voices and this is going to be as good as it gets. Or other folks will start and find that they are struggling, then have to stop, fiddle with a capo and restart. I feel bad for them. Then it's my turn. I am just an average player with a mediocre alto voice and limited range, but it will feel easy and folks will compliment my playing and singing. The others that went before me are without a doubt, better musicians, but they are not better performers. For me, it really comes down to preparation, good song selection and correct key. Also, by the way, try to have fun, otherwise, what's the point.

Croaky Keith
02-22-2017, 10:21 PM
.......try to have fun, otherwise, what's the point. ....

I'm thinking that is the best advice....... ;)

phil hague
02-23-2017, 12:14 AM
Just keep doing it. Remember that most of your audience can't do what you are doing, and the ones that can will have sympathy and understanding because they have been there as well. And yes enjoy it!

JeLeh
02-23-2017, 03:27 PM
I like your experience of progressive exposure to playing in front of people. Luckily I'm positive I'll never attempt to sing along, so I don't have to worry about key at least!


I've led uke groups and play in several uke and mixed instrument jams as well as play solo, like open mics. In the beginning I was quite nervous and can get a bit nervous even now, after playing for 5 years or so. It certainly does get better though. For me, it was a matter of successive approximation. I started just playing alone, then where family could hear me, then where they could also see me but where they are not just sitting and staring at me. Then I got comfortable with the idea of them paying a bit more attention. Next I ventured out to local uke groups and just participated as part of the throng...no pressure. Soon, I found that I could lead a song of my choice, something easy to play and singable. Eventually, I was playing harder things, in increasingly more public settings. Step by step, I got to the point where I can fairly comfortably perform solo.
Still, I find that practice is key. Never perform a song in public that you are only marginally proficient on. Start being performing dead-easy songs. Nothing alleviates nerves more than preparation. Pick songs you love, that really suit your voice. I can't stress enough how important it is to be certain that you are in a key that is good for you and remember it won't always be the same. G or A is most often best for me but it can vary from song to song and also depends on range. I've said this before, but I've played with some excellent (far, far superior than me)guitar players that unfortunately perform songs that definitely are not in their key. I can hear them getting all quiet and squeaky. They seem resigned to think that they just have bad voices and this is going to be as good as it gets. Or other folks will start and find that they are struggling, then have to stop, fiddle with a capo and restart. I feel bad for them. Then it's my turn. I am just an average player with a mediocre alto voice and limited range, but it will feel easy and folks will compliment my playing and singing. The others that went before me are without a doubt, better musicians, but they are not better performers. For me, it really comes down to preparation, good song selection and correct key. Also, by the way, try to have fun, otherwise, what's the point.

bunnyf
02-23-2017, 05:15 PM
Baby steps are fine. It's even ok if you have to fall back a bit and lick your wounds. You just keep makin music for yourself and put your toes back in the water when you're ready. You will see that it gets easier and easier.

Rllink
02-24-2017, 01:59 AM
There is a very popular local entertainer that I know, and I run across all the time at different venues, and he is not a particularly good singer. But he draws a crowd none the less. And I've asked people what it is about him that they like so much, and I get answers like, his songs are "honest", his songs are "raw", he has heart. I often times think that if he was a good singer, he would just be another good singer. But the one thing this guy has is that he connects, and I think he connects because he is what he is, and he isn't apologetic about it. He is actually and inspiration.

bunnyf
02-24-2017, 02:22 AM
Rllink, I think that's very true. You have to find your own groove and you'll be comfortable there and it'll be reflected in your performance. It's like hearing Johnny Cash cover NINs "Hurt" and the end of his career. His voice was more talking than singing but he really conveyed the essence of the song. No one should be afraid to sing. They just need to find their own unique voice and let it out. People don't only want to hear "Bing Crosbies" or "Celine Dions".

Rllink
02-24-2017, 03:02 AM
Rllink, I think that's very true. You have to find your own groove and you'll be comfortable there and it'll be reflected in your performance. It's like hearing Johnny Cash cover NINs "Hurt" and the end of his career. His voice was more talking than singing but he really conveyed the essence of the song. No one should be afraid to sing. They just need to find their own unique voice and let it out. People don't only want to hear "Bing Crosbies" or "Celine Dions".
There are no truer words. I took singing lessons for a while about three summers ago, and the first day my voice coach asked me what my goals were. I told him not to embarrass myself. He said that was easy. So after five lessons, he told me exactly what you said above. He said "You've found your voice, now just go out and celebrate it." But he told me that the woman who had a lesson before me had been taking lessons for three years. I asked him why he was sending me out after five weeks, and it was taking her three years? I thought that she had a beautiful voice. He agreed that she had a beautiful voice, but he said that she was trying to sing like someone else.

jnorris235
02-27-2017, 12:13 PM
As a children's entertainer, usually with as many adults than kids watching I'll echo one thing and add another.
Play right through your mistakes - as if it didn't happen and if you see that someone noticed just keep smiling.
This is so right. Nothing is worse than someone who keeps stopping to apologise or pointing out errors (that noone else noticed!).
My addition - have an "out". If you completely screw up, smile and say something humourous and just move on. Dont dwell on it. Start something else. I appreciate this has gone slightly off your original question but hope it adds to other points being raised.

JeLeh
02-28-2017, 04:42 PM
As a children's entertainer, usually with as many adults than kids watching I'll echo one thing and add another.
Play right through your mistakes - as if it didn't happen and if you see that someone noticed just keep smiling.
This is so right. Nothing is worse than someone who keeps stopping to apologise or pointing out errors (that noone else noticed!).
My addition - have an "out". If you completely screw up, smile and say something humourous and just move on. Dont dwell on it. Start something else. I appreciate this has gone slightly off your original question but hope it adds to other points being raised.

Oh my, yes - humor is the answer to many mistakes! ;) Yes, it is painful to watch/listen to someone who stops and points out all the errors. I realize that acting like you know what you're doing (even if you don't) is a big part of success. I just need to remember that I am presenting in front of a group of people who either haven't played much at all, or are still beginners at most. I don't consider myself to be that advanced, but I have the most experience and need to own it. I'm just not naturally good at that, so I really have to work at it. I have been practicing presenting/counting out strum patterns and going over what I want to present though, so that helps me. We've only met twice as a group, and a lot of that has been talking and instruction, so I imagine I'll get more comfortable once we all start playing and I get more used to it. Thanks to you and everyone else for sharing your advice and experiences!

Rllink
03-01-2017, 03:05 AM
My wife broke me of the constant apologizing. That is a big thing with her. She would always ask me what I was trying to accomplish by telling everyone that I wasn't very good at everything. So when I started playing the ukulele I started doing it again, and she nipped it in the bud. Frankly, I think it is obnoxious, especially when someone says they aren't very good, then they are. It is insulting actually. As far as making mistakes during a performance, you just got to let it go. If you dwell on it for even a moment, you're lost.

bikemech
03-01-2017, 03:24 AM
There is a very popular local entertainer that I know, and I run across all the time at different venues, and he is not a particularly good singer. But he draws a crowd none the less. And I've asked people what it is about him that they like so much, and I get answers like, his songs are "honest", his songs are "raw", he has heart. I often times think that if he was a good singer, he would just be another good singer. But the one thing this guy has is that he connects, and I think he connects because he is what he is, and he isn't apologetic about it. He is actually and inspiration.


Rllink, I think that's very true. You have to find your own groove and you'll be comfortable there and it'll be reflected in your performance. It's like hearing Johnny Cash cover NINs "Hurt" and the end of his career. His voice was more talking than singing but he really conveyed the essence of the song. No one should be afraid to sing. They just need to find their own unique voice and let it out. People don't only want to hear "Bing Crosbies" or "Celine Dions".


There are no truer words. I took singing lessons for a while about three summers ago, and the first day my voice coach asked me what my goals were. I told him not to embarrass myself. He said that was easy. So after five lessons, he told me exactly what you said above. He said "You've found your voice, now just go out and celebrate it." But he told me that the woman who had a lesson before me had been taking lessons for three years. I asked him why he was sending me out after five weeks, and it was taking her three years? I thought that she had a beautiful voice. He agreed that she had a beautiful voice, but he said that she was trying to sing like someone else.


As a children's entertainer, usually with as many adults than kids watching I'll echo one thing and add another.
Play right through your mistakes - as if it didn't happen and if you see that someone noticed just keep smiling.
This is so right. Nothing is worse than someone who keeps stopping to apologise or pointing out errors (that noone else noticed!).
My addition - have an "out". If you completely screw up, smile and say something humourous and just move on. Dont dwell on it. Start something else. I appreciate this has gone slightly off your original question but hope it adds to other points being raised.


My wife broke me of the constant apologizing. That is a big thing with her. She would always ask me what I was trying to accomplish by telling everyone that I wasn't very good at everything. So when I started playing the ukulele I started doing it again, and she nipped it in the bud. Frankly, I think it is obnoxious, especially when someone says they aren't very good, then they are. It is insulting actually. As far as making mistakes during a performance, you just got to let it go. If you dwell on it for even a moment, you're lost.

Wow! There is so much good information and inspiration in the previous posts that I saw fit to repeat them
Thank you all so much

RichM
03-01-2017, 04:58 AM
Here's a good example: my acoustic music jam group met this weekend. We go around the circle and each person leads a song. This week, I picked a song that I love dearly, but chose a key that was slightly out of my range. I ended up croaking out the too-low song from beginning to end. I suppose I could have stopped, apologized, and said "I never should have chosen this song in this key, it's obviously too low for me." But I kept it going, had a lot of fun, and so did others. Nobody complained about my singing. Just keep playing and singing until the end (and, learn to test the key before you bring it in front of a group!).

bunnyf
03-01-2017, 05:27 AM
Here's a good example: my acoustic music jam group met this weekend. We go around the circle and each person leads a song. This week, I picked a song that I love dearly, but chose a key that was slightly out of my range. I ended up croaking out the too-low song from beginning to end. I suppose I could have stopped, apologized, and said "I never should have chosen this song in this key, it's obviously too low for me." But I kept it going, had a lot of fun, and so did others. Nobody complained about my singing. Just keep playing and singing until the end (and, learn to test the key before you bring it in front of a group!).

You know a weird thing is that sometimes your voice won't cooperate and sing in a key that was previously good for a particular song. Your range can vary with lots of factor throughout the day, but it's a good thing to have a quick run through on any song you are going to present and you can general get in the right ballpark.

I'm not a huge fan of capos on ukes (they can get in the way of making some chord shapes comfortably) but I find them handy for groups who often use a lot of music in C (like "The Daily Ukulele") bot don't have someone who can lead a song in that key. I'm surprised more groups don't suggest that folks bring a capo. We could all throw on a capo and play some great tunes that otherwise we would have to struggle through. They are a must-have for guitar jams, as it's not unusual at all for folks to capo up when a tune feels a little low. In fact, folks will just stop after a bar or two (without much embarrassment or ado) and say "whoa, that's a little low, let's try capo 2" or such. I know of only one uke group (S.Tampa, beg.grouo) that asks that everyone come with a capo.

Kahua
03-06-2017, 01:27 AM
That's an interesting question JeLeh. Stage fright affects just about every performer. I remember the very first time I stood up on a stage. The anxiety before hand was huge. I played in a small rock 'n' roll band many years ago. You might say we were a Ventures tribute band, so to speak. I remember standing on the stage with the band behind the curtain. I thought I was going to have a panic attack. So many things went through my mind, "I hope I don't forget the chords to some of the songs," I hope I don't drop my guitar pick." Things of that nature. Then the curtain opened, and all of a sudden I felt fine. The clapping, yes, we clapped our hands back then. We didn't scream like like people do today. That relaxed me, and not to mention the fact that i couldn't see the audience because of the stage lighting. When it was over it was like, "wow!!" It was like a rush. After the show, we all sat in the dressing room laughing and joking. My dear, you will be fine, and I'm sure by the time you read this you would have already experienced it. Like I said, it affects pretty well all performers, even seasoned pros. Have you heard of Red Skelton? He was a well known comedian/actor many years ago. Before every performance, he would throw up in the dressing room. That's how much it affected him, and he was at it for decades.

Best of luck.

TCK
03-08-2017, 08:25 PM
I guess there is very little to add here, except that I was invited to play at an Ukulele festival this year and I was wound up so tight that I thought I would explode before hand. I was given a 30 minute set so I planned 22 songs for that time period and practiced them for weeks. I was sweating when I saw how many of my friends actually showed up...and then my dad, the one guy whose opinion I care about the most when I play a song, walked in. One of my students unexpectedly was in the front row (and they now all know what I do when I go home each night)...I was certain I would die.
Then I played the first note and just went with it. How? 670 videos all played for the Seasons of the Ukulele. I have spent five years finding a song in a weeks time, practicing and playing it for strangers, laughing at mistakes and trying with everything I have to drag them in with my delivery...and all that worked live as well.
Play us a few. It will become second nature- I promise.

rdominelli
03-16-2017, 03:44 AM
What has helped me both play more confidently and honestly finally start getting a handle on singing and playing was playing with my local uke club. I am by far the most junior member as far as length of time playing (all of 3 months compared to 10-20 years for most) but everyone sings and passes around music. No Judging, just a good time singing with 5 or 6 complete strangers.

Everyone had a story to share about the song they wanted to play (who knew Pete Seger played Can't help falling in love with you at the berlin wall) and no one was anything but supportive. Honestly played for 90 minutes, occasionally struggling with strums and chord changes but had a great time. The next day I discovered that playing and singing at the same time did not seem hard anymore.

Quick shout out to the Electric City Uke club. Thanks for being supportive.

Rllink
03-16-2017, 04:25 AM
There is a part of the fortifications built in the 1500s and 1600s just a few blocks from my home. I go there in the afternoons several times a week to sit on the wall and play while people walk by. I was thinking about this thread yesterday when I went out there. Every single time, I have to force myself to start singing. Yesterday I started the first song off key. I found the key about half way through the song, and then it all went fine for the rest of the time that I was out there. If anyone noticed that first minute and a half of struggling, they certainly didn't show it. But I was thinking that I go out there and play several times a week, and it is still hard to get up the nerve to belt out those first notes. I think it is just human nature.

Bones43x
03-16-2017, 04:19 PM
I'm probably weird, but in the moment I get more nervous playing than I do singing. I play guitar in front of about 1000 people every week at church, and I don't think twice about it because there's the rest of the band and singers.

I've also sang a few times on Sundays, but I don't get as nervous as when I have a guitar solo. I have to really try to relax leading up to the solo so I don't tense up and choke. All the practice in the world doesn't help me overcome that. I just take a few deep breathes or close my eyes for a moment...whatever it takes.

Now, I do get way more nervous the hours before I sing...the anticipation. I used to lead worship with 100-200 teenagers...just me and my acoustic. Getting up on stage was more nerve wracking...I hate public speaking, but once I start singing it's more natural or sub-conscious for me.

JeLeh
03-21-2017, 04:32 PM
Thanks to everyone for all the tips, tricks, and advice! You’ve gone above and beyond my initial request for help for my group members and me to become more comfortable playing in a group, and given tips for actual performances! There has been a lot of helpful information in all of your posts. I was really surprised at the number of responses!

We’ve had one group meeting since this post, and I did feel a little more comfortable playing then. I think it was mostly because more people in the group have gained a little proficiency and are able to play along now. I also thoroughly practiced everything I was going to present so I felt prepared. We also kept it very light with lots of laughter.

I haven’t recorded myself yet, but intend to do it. I also tried playing within earshot of family members who don’t normally hear me at other times, so I think that’s helping me too. I’ve just been pretty secluded with my playing up until now so it’s taking awhile to get used to people hearing me. I have no intention at this point of ever actually performing, but it’s good to have all of your advice should I decide to pursue that. I’ll have to look into the Seasons sessions and learn more about it, but it does seem like a great way to help with all of this.

After some thought, I came up with some additional practices I’ve found helpful for me personally that come from more of a mindfulness focus. I thought I’d share them too in case they may be helpful to anyone else.
- Visualization - Mentally picture a prior good performance, group experience, or practice session (or anything positive) to give confidence going into the new one.
- Get comfortable - Maintain a relaxed, open posture through the shoulders and torso, with feet flat on the floor to ground yourself to the experience, and remember to breathe.
- Really allow yourself to fully be present in the experience of playing and enjoying your uke. Take a moment to disconnect from whatever was happening immediately before you arrived to the performance/group practice session. Commit to starting with a blank slate emotionally as much as possible.
- Mindfully tune and warm-up - Focus on the vibrations of the notes through the uke and into your body as tune, and then focus on the notes within a few chords strummed slowly.

Thanks again for the help!

Benjolele
03-27-2017, 12:06 AM
I have three suggestions.

The first (which is something I just overheard a good friend telling his partner before she went onstage) is to try to channel that nervous energy into excitement. Don't think "ohmuhgawd, I have to do this!" Instead think, "wow, I get to do this! This is special. This is something most people don't get to do in their lives and I do!"
(This one came to my attention a little late in life to really try for myself, but I really like the idea.)

Second, and I know this sounds bad, but,,, drink. I don't suggest or condone alcohol as a crutch, however once in a while, especially when getting the hang of it, a drink or two can really help calm the nerves. I took a ten year hiatus from performing, and when I got back to it, I definitely had a couple whiskeys before stepping onto that stage. Of course don't overdo it, there's a difference between loose and sloppy.

Third, and the biggest one for me personally, be okay with making mistakes. People's biggest hang up with performing is the fear of making mistakes. If you make a mistake, it's okay. Nobody is going to get up and punch you because of it. Just move on to the next. Once you realize mistakes happen and they're nothing to be afraid of, those jitters are a lot less intense.

Mivo
03-27-2017, 02:19 AM
If you are resorting to drugs, there are better choices than alcohol! ;) (I'd look into relaxation and breathing exercises instead, though.)

Rllink
03-27-2017, 04:39 AM
Second, and I know this sounds bad, but,,, drink. I don't suggest or condone alcohol as a crutch, however once in a while, especially when getting the hang of it, a drink or two can really help calm the nerves. I took a ten year hiatus from performing, and when I got back to it, I definitely had a couple whiskeys before stepping onto that stage. Of course don't overdo it, there's a difference between loose and sloppy.

I don't think that I drink to find the nerve to get up in front of people and perform, but playing my uke in public and performing is a social thing for me, and I enjoy that aspect of it as much as anything. I can get along just fine without alcohol, but if it is part of the experience, I sure won't abstain from it. And if I'm invited to someone's house to participate in an informal jam, I always show up with a bottle of wine or a six pack of beer to share.