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finn
08-17-2011, 05:06 PM
Hey there!I come from a musical family,everyone seems to either sing or play some sort of instrument.My brother does gigs almost every weekend,either as backup or headliner in the local pubs,and always produces his uke for a couple songs.Ive been playing for almost ayear and would love to do a few tunes with him...but I get stage fright so bad that I could forget the words to happy birthday if there was more than two people watching.Any suggestions,aside from expensive therapy or"suck it up,Sally"?

ukeeku
08-17-2011, 05:30 PM
When I play at home I play to my dog. When I am on stage I just look down and play to my dog, but she is not there. Other than that, you just have to get up and do it. the more times you get up and play the easier it is.

Shastastan
08-17-2011, 05:50 PM
It's called performance anxiety. Most of us have had it at some time in our lives. When I started playing (trumpet) in public, I was really scared. My stomach would do flip flops and I couldn't concentrate on the music. I was oh so worried about making a mistake. Things improved some when I played with others. Big band (110 members) was no problem because the stage lights are so bright you can't even see the audience. Smaller band still no problem because the music isn't very difficult and I'm not playing by myself. Brass quartet is a little more scary because I'm the only one playing my part. My biggest scare was solos and duets. The one single thing that has helped me the most was when I told myself, "You're going to make a mistake." And I do make some. However, I really practice my music before I perform so that I know it quite well. Next, I really concentrate on the music. If I play from a chart, I watch it very carefully and count everything. My biggest danger is day dreaming. You would think that would never happen playing before an audience, but it can. Also if you look all around while you're playing you can easily get distracted. Finally, remember that you are the live performer. You are most probably better and more talented that those in the audience;Don't be so hard on yourself either.

One thing my wife and I do is play duets with backups that I make with Band in a Box. We play to retirement homes and hospitals. We also play and do demos and play at schools. Those audiences are all very friendly and really appreciate musicians coming to entertain them. Make some contacts and do some gigs for them. It will be nice for them and help to build your confidence in front of an audience. Good Luck!

chiefnoda
08-17-2011, 06:08 PM
My brother does gigs almost every weekend,either as backup or headliner in the local pubs

Hi Finn

An easy way to get on stage is to blend into a crowd. When your brother backs someone up on stage, can you ask to join your brother. Maybe keep your ukulele unplugged and open mouth but no voice? The more people you have on stage and the less contribution you make to the sound, you will feel less pressure but you still gain valuable experience. And then, the next time, maybe you strum a little louder or you stand more towards the center,..... Break yourself in more slowly.

Hope that helps.
Chief

Ukulele JJ
08-18-2011, 01:58 AM
Agree with all of the above. Confidence helps a lot, and that comes from practicing.

It's also easier when you know the focus of attention isn't on you, which it sounds like it won't be if you're just "backing up" someone.

But more than anything, you just need experience doing it. It gets easier every time, but that means there has to be a first time. :-) So yes, I guess it does come down to "suck it up, Sally."

For me, I found that eventually a lot of the things I was afraid of happening wound up happening... and it wasn't that bad. I survived. No one really cared or remembered. Now I'm not worried about them because I know if they happen I can handle it (paradoxically, that makes them less likely to happen!)

Mistakes happen... to everyone. The pros just know how to deal with them better. And they got that way by making them.

JJ

dhoenisch
08-18-2011, 05:27 AM
I can still remember how I felt the first time I got up on stage. It was at church in front of like 50 people or so, and I was playing "Amazing Grace" bluegrass style on my banjo along with a guitar player and fiddle player, and we all had two solos. Before getting up on stage, I totally forgot how to even start the song, and by the time we were actually up there and had all those eyes staring up at us, I forgot what song we were even playing. Well, my sister, who has played for audiences for ever before that time, started the song off. Suddenly, my solo came up, and once I got into the music, I forgot that the crowd was even there and went for it. Yes, I made a couple of mistakes, but the crowd didn't seem to notice.

Every time after that, the nerves calmed down and I started enjoying it more and more. Now, I love playing in front of a crowd and can't wait for gigs to come up.

I guess the best key is to know the songs like the back of your hand to keep your confidence level up, then just go for it. Gig often, and you'll probably learn to love it.

Dan

Harold O.
08-18-2011, 06:24 AM
I guess the best key is to know the songs like the back of your hand to keep your confidence level up, then just go for it. Gig often, and you'll probably learn to love it.

As they say, you will play like you practice. So always play a song through to completion during practice sessions. You will soon learn where all the holes are and how to recover.

If you are going to perform, say, four songs in front of a crowd, practice all four songs in a row. Do it with a simple recorder then listen to yourself afterward and you'll hear where you need a bit of work. This way, you can also time yourself and be able to tell the guys in charge how long to allow for your set.

Avoid being critical of yourself during practice. Just keep working toward the goal. This is worth doing, it will take some effort.

Shastastan
08-18-2011, 09:24 AM
I forgot to mention one thing. One time I played a solo in church. I know that I made a couple of tiny bloopers. A couple of horn players I know were in the congregation and commented about how well I did. This surprised me and I asked them what about my bloopers. Turns out they didn't even notice them. Most "mistakes" are not even notice by the audience so the bottom line is don't worry about them.

uke4ia
08-18-2011, 09:39 AM
It took about a year of doing regular open mike nights to start getting over stage fright. It helps to remember that you really don't have anything to lose. Odds are you don't have a major musical career that is going to be destroyed if you fluff a couple of notes, or forget a line. I played in a show a few years ago where Jim Beloff played. At one point, he couldn't remember the start of a song and it took him four tries to get the song going. If that didn't distress him, why should people like you or me who don't have reputations to protect get worried?

Harold's advice is good. When you practice at home, don't just mumble the words quietly to yourself, sing them out loud like you're singing to an audience. It takes a lot of practice to remember the words, remember the music, and develop your coordination so you can sing and play simultaneously.

finn
08-18-2011, 04:20 PM
thanks folks...I'll try growin a pair and get on with it!

OldePhart
08-19-2011, 01:31 PM
Walk on stage the first time buck nekkid - after that the rest of your gigs will seem easy by comparison. LOL

chindog
08-19-2011, 01:39 PM
Once I was forced into taking a Dale Carnegie course. One of the things I learned was that you never acknowledge any mistake you might make while in front of the audience. Most people (maybe everyone) won't notice it, and pointing it out is just shooting yourself in the foot. Of course, I don't have that problem, since I have total stage fright, and refuse to perform in front of anyone.

hedgehogsontoast
08-21-2011, 10:43 AM
all of the above really but i find that if you really feel the music your playing and concentrate on that then generally you do fine.

Good Luck!!

(Also someone once told me that bananas help with that as well - never tried that!)

bornagainjeeper
08-21-2011, 01:48 PM
at first i thought this post was about a stage fight, which woulda be pretty exciting, little flying ukuleles and friction peg wounds...BUT since its not....Having played some of my own shows and open mics pretty regularly, i'm happy to say, it gets better. In my experience, no matter how relaxed i am, i tend to play about 20% worse than i do in my home, which is fine, people still love hearing me (i think)....that being said...PREPARE YOURSELF! the better you know the songs, the better you will sound. Not reading from a chord and lyrics sheet i find to be actually helpful. I know memorizing the lyrics and chords of a tune is very hard for most people (myself included) But the pay off is big. First you look kinda goofy with a big ol' book on stage, but much more importantly Having to read worry about where you are on the page, how far away the music stand is...trying not to spill the stuff everywhere, ect...is a real added frustration. When you know the songs well, they just come out...like a musical kinda of late night beer sick (you've never been to my parties?) I find i often nearly black out while i perform, only waking up to applause. The song just came out like it needed to all by itself, without remembering needing to remember anything. A few other hints and tips i can think of, Eye contact realy does connect the audience to you, that being said...you don't actually need to look at anyone...pick a picture on the wall or a drink on a table to sing to, you look sincere not terrified and everyone will wish you were singing to them...Also if you screw up, which you will....and forget words, you can make it seem at least a little intentional, If you know what the song is about, odds are you can make up a part that fits on the fly...sky, die, tie, pie it really isn't that hard to rhyme. IF ALL ELSE FAILS.....picture your self naked...or something like that....

wolfybau
08-25-2011, 09:08 AM
I come from the other end of the spectrum in that I was a good performer for a long time playing in a metal band, stage fright wasnt realy an issue , I was playing in front of a lot of people and other musicians and 'cuttin' heads'. I had a career , future and income, ridign on my abilities.

I've only gotten a sence of stage fright recently since my health has made it so hard to perform anything. My memory is shot so Im always forgeting lyrics , and my hands cramp in the middle of songs so I can't go on. And most people don't know or care that it is from disability and just asume I am inxeperienced as a musician and no good. It has realy distroyed my confidence and given me 'performance anxiety' knowing I can't play without making many mistakes or worse. It realy reared its ugly head when things got so bad I couldnt teach and couldnt even demonstrate to my students how to play things I was trying to teach them :(

so now I have the cringing apprehension to play for people or have them hear me playing, so I realy just play for myself and prefer to play by myself but if others are around to hear it that is their problem, they just have to suffer! lol
but luckily the uke is easy enough for me to play (at least basic stuff for short periods of time) to where I've gotten some of my confidence and enjoyment back playing music again. :)

I guess as soem say it comes down to a persons confidence in their abilities and how well they know the material. but a huge part is how you see yourself and how tied to your ego and sence of self worth (and survival if it is your career) your identity as a musician is. In most cases its not so much about how others are judging you as how you are judging yourself.

still the world is full of critics and people can be very cruel, just read some of the comments bandied about on youtube, some of it shocks me how awful and hurtful people can be to others. that alone is enough to give anyone performance anxiety! Luckily in a live situation you dont usualy get people screaming out in the audience what a #$%$%^*#%^ you are but I have seen bands at concerts get booed off the stage.

I agree with the idea of doing charity shows and playing for seniors, and hospitials, for people who are appreciative and you are helping in turn. If you are bringing something good into someones life, there is nothign to fear.

SailingUke
08-25-2011, 11:52 AM
Go out and play with some groups. There are local ukulele clubs popping up all over, it is not only fun and social, but it will help you get comfortable playing in front of people.
Take your uke to a park or beach and just sit and play, you will soon have an audience.

buddhuu
08-28-2011, 09:46 AM
It does kind of come down to biting the bullet. The enjoyment and sense of achievement makes it worthwhile.

I'm not a natural solo performer: by choice I like to be part of a band or session. I'm not a great player, and my singing is pretty rough. That said, a couple of times a week I do solo stuff at a pub session I run - mostly because we're so short of singers!

Make it easy on yourself at the start. Pick a friendly venue/audience. Don't force yourself to play/sing from memory - If you want to use lyric/chord sheets your first few times then do so.

I also find that a baseball cap pulled down low makes for a nice security zone!

It's an ordeal if the confidence doesn't come naturally, but it gets easier. And when you do it you'll get a real "YAY!" moment.

Oh, and mistakes... They're only a big deal if you make them into one. Most people barely notice a minor mess up. And even if you totally screw it up, people tend not to be too bothered if you stop and say, "Now, hang on... That's not right is it? Let me try that again!". Say it with a big smile and people will smile right back while you try it again. It is possible to make light of your mistakes while doing the best you can.

Good luck. You'll be fine. :)

IvySyl
08-28-2011, 03:47 PM
Once I was forced into taking a Dale Carnegie course. One of the things I learned was that you never acknowledge any mistake you might make while in front of the audience. Most people (maybe everyone) won't notice it, and pointing it out is just shooting yourself in the foot. Of course, I don't have that problem, since I have total stage fright, and refuse to perform in front of anyone.

I'm the same way chindog. It started when I was singing..... my normally clear voice turns into an opera sound. Then I get more embarrased... and it gets worse. I'm so bad I hardly play with my spouse in the house.


So... here is some good advise one of my guitar instructors gave me. (I never did it but it might help you)
1. Learn the hard part of the song first. Get that down solid... then learn the easy part.
2. Video record yourself. For most of us that camera is just as bad as a live audience.
3. If you make a mistake, ignore it and soldier on.
4. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Good luck.

chindog
08-28-2011, 03:53 PM
I'm the same way chindog. It started when I was singing..... my normally clear voice turns into an opera sound. Then I get more embarrased... and it gets worse. I'm so bad I hardly play with my spouse in the house.


So... here is some good advise one of my guitar instructors gave me. (I never did it but it might help you)
1. Learn the hard part of the song first. Get that down solid... then learn the easy part.
2. Video record yourself. For most of us that camera is just as bad as a live audience.
3. If you make a mistake, ignore it and soldier on.
4. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Good luck.

That is most excellent advise, IvySyl.

I'm going to do just that. As soon as I get that new HD video cam. That's the only thing holding me back now.

wolfybau
08-28-2011, 05:16 PM
Oh, and mistakes... They're only a big deal if you make them into one. Most people barely notice a minor mess up. And even if you totally screw it up, people tend not to be too bothered if you stop and say, "Now, hang on... That's not right is it? Let me try that again!". Say it with a big smile and people will smile right back while you try it again. It is possible to make light of your mistakes while doing the best you can.

Good luck. You'll be fine. :)

thats good advice, and ive noticed too, especialy with my students , if you make a single big goof up at first , it can tends to break the ice and that shared human element , allows you conenct with people better sometimes than a flawless performance.

Shastastan
08-29-2011, 09:15 AM
I come from the other end of the spectrum in that I was a good performer ...snip.....

I agree with the idea of doing charity shows and playing for seniors, and hospitials, for people who are appreciative and you are helping in turn. If you are bringing something good into someones life, there is nothign to fear.

Thank you, wolfybau, for sharing your talent with others. I can imagine how difficult it must be to recognize your decline in physical abilities. I have some also. Getting old isn't for the weak. I'm actually learning the uke because I know that I won't be able to play the trumpet forever. I've also considered the piano but doing it on a keyboard since it's much easier to play than an acoustic piano. Music is a hobby for my wife and I and we are able to play in a number of different and varied groups. We use Band IN A Box for some gigs and it has given us many more opportunities. Hang in there!

wolfybau
08-30-2011, 02:53 AM
Thank you, wolfybau, for sharing your talent with others. I can imagine how difficult it must be to recognize your decline in physical abilities. I have some also. Getting old isn't for the weak. I'm actually learning the uke because I know that I won't be able to play the trumpet forever. I've also considered the piano but doing it on a keyboard since it's much easier to play than an acoustic piano. Music is a hobby for my wife and I and we are able to play in a number of different and varied groups. We use Band IN A Box for some gigs and it has given us many more opportunities. Hang in there!


sorry to hear you are stuggling with physical challenges too. thats realy great that you and your wife have such a nice shared hobby :) and are finding ways to work with your limitations too. many blessings
And bless our lil friend the ukulele!
And the staff here at UU for this resource, and facilitating this great gathering place on the web, where no one need feel stage fright, just the ohana vibe :)