Mudcat Café message #3812836 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #160711   Message #3812836
Posted By: Will Fly
05-Oct-16 - 04:00 AM
Thread Name: 'I never want to perform again!'
Subject: RE: 'I never want to perform again!'
We've all been there. I'm old enough and hard-shelled enough to have played all sorts of music in all sorts of environments in over 50 years of playing - most of it in public and much of it paid. Here are some tips for getting by with confidence.

• Unless you actually dry up or hesitate completely, in many cases the audience will not know you've boobed - gone off key, forgotten a word, etc.

• If words elude you while singing, sing anything that fits the rhythm and the tune - mumble something that might make no sense but keeps the song going. None of this "I'll start again" nonsense, which draws attention to the problem.

• I don't make any differentiation between a session, singaround, club floor spot, paid guest spot, pub gig, ceilidh event, recording session, etc. - all of which I do regularly - in terms of "professionalism", practice, preparation. I try and perform as well as I can and as professionally as I can whatever the occasion.

• In practical terms, this means having a mindset which is geared to constant, continuing practice of the repertoire. So, wherever I am - in the bath, on the bog, doing the washing-up, waking in the middle of the night (!), with or without an instrument in hand - I'm running through what I perform. If I'm adding a new tune or song to the repertoire, I will play/sing it perhaps 100 times in a day (I'm now retired from the day job!) - practice it until it's second nature, until nothing can faze me. Even when a pub landlord's dog started to piss on my leg while I was guesting in a folk club, I didn't bat an eyelid, just kicked it gently away while continuing to perform.

Now, all of this can still make you fail - but you'll stand not to fail - or worry too much about what you do - if you harden up how you prepare for it. After all, you wouldn't go into a boxing bout without the right training. Nerves can kick in - and a little tightening of the stomach muscles before a performance is no bad thing - but they can be overcome by confidence through practice.

There's often a problem with one's perceptions of audience reactions - and that's often where the self-doubt can creep in. I've walked on stage on many occasions to huge, appreciative applause from the audience - which sets the blood tingling, gets the adrenalin going - and you're off. But I recall other occasions, mainly in places like working men's clubs, where we got stony faces if we weren't playing what they wanted! But - and here's an important but - we gave absolutely no indication that we were discouraged - just thanked them as usual at the end of every number as though we'd received lots of applause and carried on.

My weirdest experience was playing in a rock'n roll trio in a club in Guildford (a converted cinema). We played to just 5 blokes sitting impassively in the front row. At half time, we went over to them to ask what was wrong with our performance. To our surprise, they said, "Oh, we're from Sweden, and we usually applause right at the end. You're great!" So we invited them on stage with us for the 2nd half, and they boogied away while we played to them...

Anyway, enough of me rambling on - hope there's something here that can give you heart!