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View Full Version : Bohemian Rhapsody and Stage Fright...HELP



SmallWonder
03-30-2017, 06:40 AM
Hey guys! I have a performance on Saturday coming up at my school's benefit concert, and I'm one of the opening acts, and I decided to play Jake Shimabukuro's rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody on a uke. I know the music like the back of my hand, but I have every musician's nightmare. Freezing like a deer in headlights due to stage fright. I go blank on stage. It"s happened before, but my school crowd tends to be kinda judgemental, and I've never been more nervous to perform a solo act. To make matters worse, no one believes that the ukulele can play the song and my teachers scoffed at the idea, adding to the pressure. Does anyone have any tips on conquering my fears and nailing my performance of this Jake classic?

Choirguy
03-30-2017, 07:18 AM
If you can play it--that should be all that it takes. I can't touch that level of independent playing at this point, but for me the ukulele is more of an accompaniment to my voice.

So--if you know you can play it, focus on that...and you will simply shock your audience into acceptance.

SmallWonder
03-30-2017, 07:25 AM
If you can play it--that should be all that it takes. I can't touch that level of independent playing at this point, but for me the ukulele is more of an accompaniment to my voice.

So--if you know you can play it, focus on that...and you will simply shock your audience into acceptance.

Thanks! I'll do my best to focus on simply putting on a good performance haha

70sSanO
03-30-2017, 08:12 AM
I'll have the same issue, sometimes on an even lower scale. My advice, and it might be a little too late, is to play out somewhere. Find an open mic night, go play on some street corner, find some crowd somewhere and just play. Put yourself in a uncomfortable situation and get used to performing. The more you put yourself out there, the easier it becomes.

And don't stop... Missed that pull off or botched that riff, keep going. Start strong and finish strong and the middle will take care of itself. Remember the people you at playing for can't even comprehend how to play that song. Your mindset has to be that you are simply so far above the audience's abilities to do this that their opinion is of no value.

You can do this.

John

Edit added: On more thing. Don't look at the audience. Even for small groups, I will just block them out. Make it just you and your ukulele, just like all the times before.

lfoo6952
03-30-2017, 09:03 AM
The advice that John gave is spot on. One bit of advice that my uke teacher gave me that was extremely helpful: focus only on your playing. Don't get distracted by the audience or anything else that might be going on, otherwise you will get off-track. Don't let your thoughts wander while playing. Focus!

And practice the song until you can play it in your sleep.

PTOEguy
03-30-2017, 09:16 AM
Here's what works for me - your mileage may vary.

First, recognize that you're going to have a lot of adrenaline going on. It's not going to feel the same as practice - you get a lot of adrenaline and you're reactions and perceptions are a little different (usually quicker and stronger) - you're set up for fight or flight. The key is to know it is coming and choose your response (I know that this isn't always possible - but I find that preparing for the key moment when the adrenaline kicks in gives me a pretty good chance). If you can channel your adrenaline into sharpening your performance (fight instead of flight), amazing things can happen. I've done vocal solos where I could only hit the high note occasionally in practice - my voice teacher told that it wouldn't be a problem in performance, and he was right.

Its an incredible rush - you're waiting to play and you think "here it comes - I'm going to be faster, stronger and sharper than I'm used to - I'm going to use this and play better than I ever have".

For me, its all about being aware that perceptions and reactions are going to be a little different - and that I have input - I get to choose whether it helps or hurts me.

Debussychopin
03-30-2017, 09:52 AM
Really prepare. Play through slowly and play through at tempo. Play from different spots in the music. Repeat. Overly prepare so that if you're mind is preoccupied w the surroundings or blanking out, your body/fingers will keep still going. With piano and me, at a recital, I will be very anxious and on nerve with a lot of adrenaline. But being really prepared has pulled me through.

Croaky Keith
03-30-2017, 10:15 AM
You know the tune, so wear a peaked cap to block out the audience, look at your uke, take a deep breath, & start playing.

(Just my thoughts. :) )

WestyShane
03-30-2017, 10:22 AM
I've never played in front of people other than those who happen to walk by my house while I'm playing on my porch, but I do give the occasional presentation at public meetings and conferences for my work. Something I always remind myself of is this;

Everyone in that audience is there because they WANT to hear what I have to say to them and NO ONE in that audience knows more about the subject matter than I do (even if I mess up a little, they'll never know the difference as long as I sound confident).

If you can play Bohemian Rhapsody you're in the same boat and will blow them away!

redpaul1
03-31-2017, 03:23 AM
Here's what works for me - your mileage may vary.

First, recognize that you're going to have a lot of adrenaline going on. It's not going to feel the same as practice - you get a lot of adrenaline and you're reactions and perceptions are a little different (usually quicker and stronger) - you're set up for fight or flight. The key is to know it is coming and choose your response (I know that this isn't always possible - but I find that preparing for the key moment when the adrenaline kicks in gives me a pretty good chance). If you can channel your adrenaline into sharpening your performance (fight instead of flight), amazing things can happen. I've done vocal solos where I could only hit the high note occasionally in practice - my voice teacher told that it wouldn't be a problem in performance, and he was right.

Its an incredible rush - you're waiting to play and you think "here it comes - I'm going to be faster, stronger and sharper than I'm used to - I'm going to use this and play better than I ever have".

For me, it's all about being aware that perceptions and reactions are going to be a little different - and that I have input - I get to choose whether it helps or hurts me.
:agree:


Really prepare. Play through slowly and play through at tempo. Play from different spots in the music. Repeat. Overly prepare so that if you're mind is preoccupied w the surroundings or blanking out, your body/fingers will keep still going. With piano and me, at a recital, I will be very anxious and on nerve with a lot of adrenaline. But being really prepared has pulled me through.
This. :agree: Just finished reading Bruce Springsteen's autobiography, where he says pretty much the same thing in the passage on his first London concert (Hammersmith 75), where he'd allowed himself to get distracted by all the hype generated by his record company...

You can see all of this [all the distractions] on the E Street Band's Hammersmith Odeon, London '75 film..., except you won't. You will not see anything except the band perform a tough but excellent set. You will see us... pump out a Jersey stew of rock & roll... At the time, I found the evening so disconcerting that I never viewed the concert film until 2004. When I did, I found out... [m]ost of what I'd experienced that night was a movie playing exclusively in my own head. My body & heart knew what to do and went ahead and did it anyway. I'd trained well... enough to have prepared ourselves.

Everyone in that audience is there because they WANT to hear what I have to say to them and NO ONE in that audience knows more about the subject matter than I do (even if I mess up a little, they'll never know the difference as long as I sound confident).

If you can play Bohemian Rhapsody, you're in the same boat [as me!] and will blow them away!
:agree:

Here's my 2

1) It's not an audition. It's a school benefit concert. How often do you get to show off what you can do in front of anyone who's actually interested enough in what you can do that they've come out to watch? Not often, is my experience. Like WestyShane says (https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?p=1954809#post1954809), think of it is an opportunity to show what you can do, not as an ordeal to be got through.
At any rate, that was the advice given me before my Ph.D defence (an event with the potential to be far more stressful, prima facie, than a school concert :) ) and it's advice that stood me in good stead then, and in good stead ever since, whenever I've had put to in a performance in whatever field of activity.

2) It's not an audition. It's a school benefit concert. The audience will know they're in a school auditorium, not at Carnegie Hall. Yes, they have come out to enjoy the performances - but that means, again like WestyShane says (https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?p=1954809#post1954809), they want to be on your side. They want to help you perform to your best ability. If you're out there feeling nervous, tell them so. Let them help you relax.
I don't go along with the "don't look at the audience" school of thought. Don't know about you, but when I'm in an audience, I want to have some sense of interaction with the performer(s); a sense that he/she/they have come along to play for me. Nothing worse than a 'shoegazing' performance IMO - might as well have stayed at home and put on a record. In any case, if there's any stage lighting, you won't see anyone in the audience beyond the first couple of rows. Focus on one or two people you can see, and show them a good time.

3) It's not The Gong Show. It's a school benefit concert. If you fluff a note, and the audience don't notice, who cares? Do not be waiting for that fluff to come along - and do not allow it to put you off when it does (if it does - and it's far more likely to come along if you are expecting it to come along!). It's how you're prepared to cope with the unexpected that's going to be key (i.e.,what PTOEguy says (https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?p=1954781#post1954781), basically). If it's a big fluff, laugh it off, and carry on. That's what we do in the pUKEs (thepukes.co.uk) - and we've built up a pretty substantial live following, despite our fluffs. The audience are on your side.

4) Familiarize yourself with the venue and the stage (if you're not already). In particular, familiarize yourself with playing under lights, and playing while mic'ed up. Make sure you get there in time to get a proper soundcheck, in other words. I know none of this advice you're getting is going to make you any less nervous (so be prepared to cope with it, as the others have said), and the last thing you need is some nasty surprise just before you're about to take the stage.
While you're up there in soundcheck getting used to the idea of being on stage under lights, visualise the place full of people, all bursting with appreciation and ready to bring the house down when you take your bow.

jer
03-31-2017, 06:39 AM
I'm not a public performer right now, but I've seen and been to plenty performances...That said, I do have some thoughts that I hope help you with your mindset going into this at least...

Just remember that no matter how great you play, there are still going to be people who don't get it or even criticize the performance. More often than not the people who are criticizing couldn't play what you're playing. Jealousy comes into play, or just simply big egos. Those people are NOT your audience, so forget about them and what they say. Play for the people there who will enjoy and appreciate it. I'm sure there will be plenty of those. I'm sure you'll also get a lot of smiles and laughs. That seems to happen with the uke no matter how proficient your performance is. It's not a bad thing. I think most people want to be entertained, and if given the choice they'd probably rather hear it on uke than guitar, just because it's different and for the entertainment value. The general public always seems to be more forgiving and have a much better time than the stuck up, self proclaimed great musicians. Have fun with it. Even if you mess up some, the general public isn't going to care that much so long as they are entertained. It's not like they're paying to see you play.
"Haters gonna hate." Do kids still say that? ha..

Ziret
03-31-2017, 06:54 AM
You've gotten some very good advice. Mostly this fear goes away or greatly diminishes with experience, so every time you perform, it gets a little easier. Now you'll be one step closer to ease. But also, if when you come on, you say something to the audience that makes them laugh, they'll be more disposed to like you, you'll feel that, and you'll relax a little and play better. They'll want you to succeed. So don't necessarily script it, but try to think of something funny particularly about your ukulele. You're playing Bohemian Rhapsody on the ukulele. That's pretty funny already. Mention it.

redpaul1
04-01-2017, 08:36 AM
So - how did it go? :-)

etudes
04-01-2017, 09:22 AM
So - how did it go? :-)

I think his performance is tonight.

redpaul1
04-01-2017, 02:37 PM
I think his performance is tonight.

Oh yeah. Time zones, eh? ;-)

Nickie
04-01-2017, 05:03 PM
I just know the OP did well, he had a good mindset, and great advice and support from y'all. Bohemian Rhapsody? Hell, I scared myself outta doing a solo that I'm pretty good at tonight. And it was nothing, compared to BR, it's just a solo part for Bye Bye Blues, that I know really well, I just don't practice it every day. I don't have as much anxiety as I used to, I just get really embarrassed if I forget a song.
I really cured my P.A. (performance anxiety) by forming a group that is now a quintet of people at about my skill level, or maybe a little better than I. I'm perfectly fearless onstage with my buddies now. Soloing? Not so much....