Dealing with Music Performance Issues

There has been a lot written on "Stage Fright" and how to deal with it. Some say that you can imagine the people naked or close your eyes so you don't have to see the audience. I suggest smiling. Just the act of smiling helps to release chemicals in the brain that will make it easier to perform in any situation. I do work where I am the only player. Solo Sax. No tracks. Just me and my thoughts.

My main concern is not being able to play physically. I worry that the reed is going to freak out, warp, squeak or split. I worry that a pad will leak in the left hand that keeps the rest of the horn from working. I worry that I won't remember the song once I have started. When I start to feel the anxiety, I smile and look for someone to share my smile with. If I can get one smile back, it eases me into a comfortable state of mind and the anxiety just fades away.

The magic of a smile is that it not only helps you, it helps the music. By being more relaxed from the endorphins released in the brain, you will be able to focus on what you are about to do. The song you are about to play will feel better because you feel better. Physically and emotionally.

Other detractors that I've run across in various situations are:

-The unhappy and unpleasant party planner.

-The Event location staff that don't care about you or your equipment.

-The "Sub" who could care less about your gig. He just wants a paycheck.

-The "Extra" people added to a gig because the client wants a bigger show. They sometimes don't care and complain about not having anything to do when the band is playing the "Rocker" songs.

-The band member who is having troubles at work or at home and can't leave it there.

-The last minute changes when you adjusted everything in your day to accommodate the original itinerary of events.

Any or all of these can happen in one performance and you must be able to find that peaceful place in your heart and mind to do your best, regardless of the situation. It’s called "Playing" music for a reason, you should be having fun, enjoying this time and playing with your fellow musicians. I will usually find a space (even the bathroom will work in this situation) where I can just take a moment to breathe and think about my peace.

If you can't find a place indoors, step out for a short spell where you can do the following stress relievers:

1. With your head down, eyes closed, shake your arms loose for a count of ten.

2. With your head down, eyes closed, reach behind your back and join your hands. Bending at the waist, with both hands, reach upward toward the sky slowly. Return slowly to your standing position.

3. Place your hands on your hips and twist from side to side.

4. With your hands still on your waist, bend over at the waist and twist from side to side.

5. With your feet flat on the ground and with your hands raised, alternate stretching your reach from right side to left side. Slowly lower your arms to your side.

Upon completion of the exercises, take a moment for some deep breathes and slow releases.

Now go enjoy your gig. Regardless of the others on stage with you it is up to you to enjoy your experience. Your joy is not dependent on others!

Have a great week and please share what you learn with others. Start with Musicians Unite on Facebook!!

If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below or message me on my Facebook page!!

-Frank Valdez - MU Columnist

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