Stage Fright… Fight or Flight?

I belong to a few online ukulele clubs and I have been blessed with meeting some crazy, likeminded ukers who have been enjoying, not only the musicality of the mini-instrument; the versatility of its “voice”; but also the camaraderie of the subculture that comes with strumming the stuffing out its tiny body in almost any season of life.  The joy it brings to so many from all walks of life seems unparalleled relative to just about any other community.  The bonding taking place is practically immediate with superhuman loyalty which becomes apparent when the slightest uke topic pops up and ukers from around the world swarm the discussion like a happy bunch of honeybees honoring the Queen post–buzz buzz buzz.

One of these sweet topics, a dear girlfriend brought up in the form of a question:  Do we have any tips for her in terms of live performance frights?  It started quite a buzz in the closed community and as per usual quite a few people pollinated the thread with their experiential tips, trained wisdom, and you-can-do it encouragement.

Now, I have only been playing ukulele for about a year, however, I have been performing most of my life–in varying degrees.  In school: plays, musicals, public debate groups, performance art, etc.  In life: public speaking, church, choir, solos, etc. And don’t get me started in counting all of the lectures I’ve given my kids… nark, nark, nark, nark.  The tiny instrument o’joy has allowed me to branch out on my own schedule to start actively seeking out live gigs but performance has typically been a part of whatever period of life I’ve been blessed to participate in.

Performance anxiety appears to be one of those human challenges which affects all walks of life no matter status, culture, background… it is an equal opportunity choke-holder and knee-buckler.  So, I thought I would put together a small list of ways people encourage themselves and fight through the nerves instead of taking flight, which can often be our first reaction.

My standard disclaimer:  Don’t be ‘bullied’ or ‘coerced’ into thinking that you HAVE to perform if you play an instrument. We are all built differently–each designed for specific tasks according to personality, character, temperament, etc.  Just because someone performs doesn’t necessarily mean they’re “braver” than someone who doesn’t.  Some of us are just designed for it and desire it.  If you find great joy and contentment in only strumming alone in your living room–then by all means revel in it!!  Many people would be so fortunate to have found such a wonderful hobby that helps release tension and gives such great satisfaction!  🙂

But for those who want to “Fight” through; here are some tips, advice, and encouragements I’ve picked up along the way, including my own experiences.

  1. “Fighting” through is often a mental game.  Find what helps you win that mental game and practice it.
  2. Try to find a supportive audience to practice in front of.
  3. Remind yourself you’re there to contribute something to the audience and they typically want to be there too.
  4. Practice.
  5. Be yourself.
  6. If you make a mistake; just move on. Practice playing through mistakes.
  7. Confess your nervousness to the audience.
  8. Try not to worry or think about  leading up beforehand. Keep yourself distracted while you wait. [author’s note: This is a great tip.  Unfortunately, I can’t overcome this.  If I’m not expecting my turn–I almost go into a full-on electric shock panic when my name is called.  My preference is to anticipate so I can be practicing the songs in my head and know when my turn is up.  Different strokes for different folks, Folks. Buzz!] 🙂
  9. Practice.
  10. When performing, pretend you’re somewhere else comfortable to you.
  11. Work on expressing yourself through your emotions instead of suppressing them.
  12. Practice somewhere comfortable and take that image and feeling with you into the performance.
  13. Remember to keep breathing!
  14. Try to get sleep, eat, exercise and hydrate.
  15. Perfection should not be your goal; performance should be. Try and concentrate on the latter goal instead of the former one.
  16. Performing with friends on stage, helps.
  17. Practice.
  18. Remind yourself that a bit of nerves are good because it helps you perform better.  In other words: accept your nerves–don’t fight them.
  19. Even Adele gets physically nervous!  🙂  🙂 So why shouldn’t we?
  20. Keep on keeping on!

# 20 reminds me of:

uke(courtesy of ukuleles.dreamwidth.org)

So there’s a short list of suggestions from some of my crazy likeminded ukulele cronies with my own tidbits here and there!  To say I haven’t gained a plethora of wisdom from being around a truckload of diverse people would be a mega understatement.  I hope you’ll feel free to comment and leave your own ways you stay and “Fight.”

Happy, Dappy Uke-ing and Buzz Buzz Buzz!! 🙂

~ UkeBaby Kim

2 thoughts

  1. Hiya Pete, Thank you for stopping by and commenting !! You’re always an inspiration wherever you go so I appreciate you hanging here!! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s