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dj_ando
10-22-2005, 10:44 PM
Hey guys. Many drummers, musicians, actors and anyone in the performing arts industry suffer from nerves before a performance. In fact, if someone has never felt nervous before a gig or something, then I don't think they're really passionate enough about what they do to be doing it. But anyway, I too used to suffer from pretty bad nerves before a big show, and it is something that can affect your performance. There's a great bell curve graph that I'd attach if I could find it anywhere, but basically there are two distinct levels of nervousness. Up to a point, your nerves and anxiety will most likely improve your performance. It gives you enough adrenaline to really allow you to let loose, and it gets you excited. Then, there's a certain point where, as your anxiety increases, your performance will drop further and further. This is when you're at the point where you may be shaking, sweatting badly, breathing too quickly.. This will have a negative affect on your performance, which obviously nobody wants.
Edit: here's a good one
http://www.merck.com/media/mmhe2/figures/fg100_1.gif

I've been looking into this for quite a while now, and I'd like to share with you guys the techniques I find are the best at combatting nerves. Not getting rid of them completely, but keeping them under control so they will assist your performance, not hamper it. I urge all of you who suffer from the same problems to at least try these, and if you think it's stupid then feel free to ignore it. It may seem a bit strange to some, but have an open mind!

1. Breathing
From now on, whenever you're in a situation where you're feeling nervous, I want you to take notice of your breathing. At first, don't alter it. Just see what it feels like and keep that feeling locked in your mind. Usually, if you're nervous, you'll be taking shorter, more shallow, breaths and you'll be taking them more often. Once you've acknowledged this feeling, then adjust your breathing. Take deep, slow breaths. Focus on controlling it and slowing down your heart beat. Do this same thing every time you're nervous. You will learn to take notice every time your breathing becomes short and shallow, and you'll be able to fix it before it is allowed to make your nerves even worse.

2. Progressive Relaxation
Ok, this one is a bit harder to explain. Some of you may be familiar with prog. relaxation, others won't. It's an exercise not all that different from meditation, which focusses on putting your body into a state of total relaxation.

Firstly, find a quiet and comfortable place, where you won't be distracted. For the first time this may take up to 20 minutes (if you're doing it properly), though it may be less. It depends on how well you pick it up. In the interest of keeping this post to a readable size, go here (http://users.bigpond.net.au/dj_4nd0/relax.html). Those are all the body parts you should focus on, in that particular order (you can condense it after the first few goes). I start with my index finger because it's nice and small, so it's easy to focus on just that. Basically, you want to go through each of those parts of your body and focus entirely on each part, one at a time. Feel that part and nothing else. Then, when you're focussed, let go of all the tension in that area. Feel the weight of it, let it be totally relaxed. Only move on to the next body part when you feel it's totally relaxed. It's a good indication that you've done it if, say your finger, feels a lot heavier and tingles a little bit.
Note: you can come up with different orders - whatever you're more comfortable with

Be very patient with this exercise, as it's something you must do properly if you want to benefit from it. Practice it often, and you will get better at doing it. You should find that you can feel even more relaxed, and you can do it faster. Then, when you're nervous at a performance, you can do a quick check through your body and release all the tension you have built up. It's like a mini version of the above exercise. The more you practice the real thing, the more efficient you'll be at relaxing before a gig. When your body is relaxed, you'll have a lot more control over it, and in turn you should get rid of some of the nerves as well. I find it's a great help when I'm really about to shit myself before playing!

3. Visualisation
This needs to be used in conjunction with progressive relaxation, or there's no point to doing it. This is particularly useful if you've got a really big gig coming up, or an audition, or something that you're really freaking out about - however, it is time consuming. For this, you really should know the place you'll be performing, otherwise it's very difficult to get it to work. Basically, this is about visualising yourself going to this gig or audition or whatever, and everything running smoothly, you playing great, and all the while you're feeling relaxed. So here's how it's done:

Firstly, you need to do this right after doing progressive relaxation. Your body must be totally tension free. Once you're confident that this is the case, begin to picture yourself on the day of the gig. Probably start from when you're about to leave your home to go there. There are two things you need to be focussed on at all times: your visualisation, and your body. If at any stage you feel tension creep into your body somewhere, you need to stop the visualisation, bring yourself back to a state of total relaxation, and start again. Picture yourself loading your gear into the car, hopping in, driving there.. whatever it is you'll be doing. You get to your gig, you set everything up, it all goes fine, and most important of all you're feeling RELAXED! Remember, if at any point you're not relaxed, you've gotta take it back a while. Not necessarily right back to the start, but a significant step back from the point at which you felt tense. Continue on running your visualisation through your mind, right through until your performance. In your head, see yourself playing well, everything going fine, and most of all your nerves are under control and are boosting your performance.

Start doing this early - say, a few weeks before the gig - and do it often. The more you do it, the more you will benefit from it. The idea is that if you can go through the whole visualisation without letting any tension creep into your body, and you do that over and over, that feeling will be locked in your brain. Come the day of the gig or audition or whatever, you'll feel relaxed and you'll be able to manage and control your nerves. I've done it for several big gigs, auditions and exams. I'd usually be so nervous that I would shake like a rattlesnake, but I've been able to control my nerves, and everything has been great!

Perhaps all that stuff isn't for you, but I thought I'd just share with you guys the things that work best for me and other drummers I've spoken to about nerves. What tips and tricks do you guys have up your sleeves when it comes to anxiety control?

aznriceball
10-22-2005, 10:49 PM
I, for one, think that this post was very considerate!

Mr. Grill
10-22-2005, 10:50 PM
The way I find helps me relax is to be prepared before a gig. And when I say prepared, I mean to have a nice long bath before leaving your house. Next, have a quick band practice so you're sure the songs are in everyone's mind. Next, have something light to eat, drink lots of water, and just hcill out. Thinking about how nervous you think you're going to be is just going to wreck your nerves.

When you arrive at the gig, make sure everything is set up the way you'll feel comfterble playing it. Then make sure again. When this is done, you may do a soundcheck, and maybe a quick runthrough on one or two songs. Just chill and relax until the show. Regardless, you're going to feel nervous and anxious, but hopefully this will have made you comfterble beforehand.

dj_ando
10-22-2005, 10:54 PM
well, i know how much it sucks to suffer from really bad nerves, and how it can just make you feel terrible when you fuck everything up at a gig because you're freaking out too much.. we're all here to share the music we have inside ourselves to everybody who wants to listen, and i don't think it's fair that any of us should have to be screwed over by some silly feeling of fear or whatever it is that makes us feel nervous! sorry i wasn't very concise :p

RichHunt
10-22-2005, 10:56 PM
The best thing to help nerves is to just have experience. Nothing is better than playing infront of more and more people. The more you play, the more used you get to it.

dj_ando
10-22-2005, 11:03 PM
The best thing to help nerves is to just have experience. Nothing is better than playing infront of more and more people. The more you play, the more used you get to it.

not for everyone. my teacher is jim piesse, a fantastic drummer who's been around for aaages. he studied with joe morello amongst others, and is probably australia's master of technique. he does workshops all the time, teaches a lot, plays with everybody.. but he always tells me about how there are still situations for him where he'll totally freak out if he's doing a gig with some really big names who he hasn't played with before, or he's doing a workshop for pro's, these techniques help him control his anxiety. some people were born performers, others will never feel totally comfortable on stage in front of a big crowd. i'm just suggesting ways to help the second category of people :)

DruMMeR_BoY14
10-22-2005, 11:13 PM
The best thing to help nerves is to just have experience. Nothing is better than playing infront of more and more people. The more you play, the more used you get to it.

I agree totally. I've been performing infront of crowds since i was in year 5 and I hardly get any nerves whatsoever now before I go onstage.

Chippy569
10-22-2005, 11:19 PM
guess i can start practicing this now, i'm playing the Quest in MSP on nov 26th.... main stage!

my biggest concert prior was 150 people, there should be damn well near 600 at this show, minimum!

RichHunt
10-23-2005, 12:29 AM
not for everyone. my teacher is jim piesse, a fantastic drummer who's been around for aaages. he studied with joe morello amongst others, and is probably australia's master of technique. he does workshops all the time, teaches a lot, plays with everybody.. but he always tells me about how there are still situations for him where he'll totally freak out if he's doing a gig with some really big names who he hasn't played with before, or he's doing a workshop for pro's, these techniques help him control his anxiety. some people were born performers, others will never feel totally comfortable on stage in front of a big crowd. i'm just suggesting ways to help the second category of people :)

I used to freak out heaps when getting ready to perform, like for instance having to rush off to the toilet before I play several times. But that's part of the excitement and the more you play the more you get used to it. I'm not saying you can cure yourself of nerves, in fact, you shouldn't because nerves are part of the game.

Motleyguy
10-23-2005, 02:00 AM
When I started drumming, it was on my own on the snare, in solo competitions for my pipe band drumming. So I found playing with a band, behind the kit, not being judged or having people looking for mistakes helped me relax immensely on it's own. otherwise I would just chill out and relax in the backstage area or bandroom if there was one, do some rudiments and keep my hands going.

Iodus
10-23-2005, 02:08 AM
i wish i'd been told that before
My first show was in front of 1200 people, i didn't screw up and i don't get nerves anymore, sometimes it's just best to get thrown in the deep end

my biggest concert prior was 150 people, there should be damn well near 600 at this show, minimum!
man, 600 people would've been nice! -good luck

Corkofski
10-23-2005, 02:17 AM
my mum has shoved me on stages since the age of 5, so i have no problem with nerves.

first drumming show i played was 200 people, biggest ive ever played was 3500 people

Skin Beater
10-23-2005, 02:19 AM
i wish i'd been told that before
My first show was in front of 1200 people, i didn't screw up and i don't get nerves anymore, sometimes it's just best to get thrown in the deep end

man, 600 people would've been nice! -good luck

How the hell is your first gig in front of 1200 people?

Permanent Solution
10-23-2005, 02:20 AM
I find that once I'm into the gig I'm much more relaxed, it's always that first song I feel like puking when I start, but by the end I'm like "Hey, I know this stuff, piece of cake." and I'm all set.

Iodus
10-23-2005, 02:24 AM
How the hell is your first gig in front of 1200 people?

...eh
was scary as hell, but now gigs are easy:thumb:

Double Bass Jim
10-23-2005, 03:00 AM
Good post.

Even the best still get nervous... It's all apart of the thrill and enjoyment of playing live.

dj_ando
10-23-2005, 03:30 AM
well, i hope this helps at least a few people.. took me a fair while :p

as i've said, and you guys have said too, a bit of anxiety helps your playing. this is mainly for people who sometimes suffer from nerves to the point where it negatively affects their playing. for example, i'm doing these exercises to prepare for my audition at the sydney conservatorium in december, just to make sure i don't flip on the day.

the way i see it, controlling your nerves is something that, if you're not too good with it, needs to be practiced just like all other aspects of drumming. after all, you can have great chops, great grooves, great everything but if you're totally shitting yourself on a gig, your playing isn't gonna be nearly as good as it could be. i for one never want to let that happen, so it's something i keep handy along with other practice exercises.

larsROCKS
10-23-2005, 04:06 AM
When i started doing music as school we had to perform every week. the first week i shat myself. i thought id b fine but when i got up there i froze. but now about 6 perforances later i can do it quite confidently. just believe in what your playing and know u hav put in the time to learn it and u'l b fine

thats just my 2 cents worth

Ill Mitch
10-23-2005, 03:01 PM
I always get really nervous before a show, but once I get playing I feel fine.

daveplaysdrums
10-23-2005, 04:24 PM
I think I must be lucky that i don't get nervous before playing a show anymore. These days I jsut turn up and play. There's a real thrill in performing, but without the anxiety, it feels even better. The worst thing is that I have the most kit out of all the band, so afterwards, I'm still packing up while they're drinking with the audience... that sucks...

FockerTheLopper
10-23-2005, 06:24 PM
I don't get nervous before shows and I'm passionate about what I do. I just know my stuff and know I won't mess up. Accually I take back the first line because always about 5 minutes before we go on I get a little nervous but when I start playing drums for the PA guy it goes away

Damo
10-23-2005, 06:25 PM
I think it has a lot to do with self-confidence, perhaps more than anything else.

If I go out onstage and screw up a few things, its no major drama for me because I am confident enough to know that i CAN play the stuff Im doing and also have the experience behind me to realize that little mistakes arent the end of the world (and in fact, should be EXPECTED at a show)

TTTSNB
10-23-2005, 06:34 PM
Great post thread starter, very helpful. I'll definitely take all that into consideration next time I play a gig(which should be soon)

spike9908
10-23-2005, 06:42 PM
Good post.

Even the best still get nervous... It's all apart of the thrill and enjoyment of playing live.

very true, i remember hearing something about even buddy rich got nervous before every show.

like damo said, shit happens. its part of life and gigs are no exceptions. its no biggie unless you completely throw off the song/rest of the band.

Starship
10-23-2005, 07:05 PM
Great thread, thank you!

Det_Nosnip
10-23-2005, 07:38 PM
Awesome thread. :cool:

GooseFilms.net
10-23-2005, 07:38 PM
Bah, I hate nerves. Especially shaking. I've tried to play it off as trumpet vibrato, but that doesn't work whatsoever.
I'm thinking a positive mindset is really vital, along with overwhelming confidence that you're going to tear up whatever you're playing. If you're not confident infront of the crowd, you're just gonna tear yourself apart.

PandaDrummer
10-23-2005, 08:30 PM
when I get ready for a Gig on my way to the venue I get in my truck and crank the Dream theater till muh ears bleed. ok not really that lound :lol: but my guitarist and I watch one of thier dvd's and cause that gets us pumped up, then we go get a bite to eat and chill
btw. Mike Portnoy is the reason I started to play drums

LittlePound
10-23-2005, 08:33 PM
/\/\/\/ very awesome and very in depth...i might try that instead of just thinking about hte song.....That's what i did when i was nervous, just a constant "ok, this is this part of the song and this goes next", as long as i could keep my mind off the people it was great, kinda hard when they called out my name (Friends) though.

GooseFilms.net
10-23-2005, 08:39 PM
Oh yeah, and focus. When you're not focusing, you do stupid shit. You forget to count rests, you drop sticks, you miss entrances, stupid mistakes youve never made before.

foreshadowSRX
10-23-2005, 08:51 PM
ive always noticed when im on stage that the audience dissappears after the first note is played, whether it be me counting us off or another guy n my group starting, all the anxiety for me is released as soon as i hear the music, its just like we are just jammin in our practice place except the the last thing we hear before leavin the stage, either applaus or boos, we normally dont hear either of those at our practice place

dj_ando
10-23-2005, 10:29 PM
glad some of you guys thought this thread was helpful :)

of course there are any number of things you should be doing in the way of mental preparation if you want to play your best - being confident, having a positive attitude etc. but i think if you're able to really control your anxiety, and be able to bring it to just the right point where your performance will be at its peak, then you've got a very useful tool with you. these techniques will automatically assist to ridding of a negative mindset, and your anxiety will come from excitement, not fear.

relaxation when playing will immediately help you focus on the music, and you'll be in a much better playing state than you would be if you were filled with tension and angst

Double Bass Jim
10-23-2005, 10:55 PM
Once you get those first couple a notes outs everythings breeze.

iplaybass9340
10-23-2005, 11:23 PM
Thanks for all the help. I tried the progessive relaxation real quick and I felt all the tension go away. I'm definitly gonna do those exercises before my bands next show.

dj_ando
10-23-2005, 11:27 PM
:) good to hear! as i said, practice them at home at first. the more practice you do, the faster you'll be able to release your tension, and the more efficient you will be. it's a cool feeling, huh? :p

RockStar34C
10-25-2005, 12:12 AM
I cant believe nobody has mentioned it yet....


BOOZE!!!

A nice soothing beer or four always does the trick!!!

Bryan Blakey
10-25-2005, 12:33 AM
Hmm, you must be saying I'm not passionate about jazz music or playing it, because I don't ever get nervous before gigs.




PS I am more passionate about playing jazz than anything in my life. :p

Win A Rabbit
10-25-2005, 12:47 AM
i used to get nervous before gigs. to calm myself down, i'd make sure that i had practiced everything to the best of my ability, and a few minutes before i'd go on stage, i'd go sit in the corner for a little bit, and just re-assure myself that nothing can go wrong, sing a song in my head, etc. anything to take my mind off of whatever it was that i was scared about.

dj_ando
10-25-2005, 02:32 AM
Hmm, you must be saying I'm not passionate about jazz music or playing it, because I don't ever get nervous before gigs.




PS I am more passionate about playing jazz than anything in my life. :p

nah, not saying you're not passionate. there are just some people who suffer terribly from nerves no matter what they try to think, whilst others seem to have plenty of confidence and never worry about a thing. it's just a personal matter, doesn't have much to do with how much you love music :)

AndyEdwardsMusic.com
10-25-2005, 07:35 AM
Great post: Interesting topic.

I have my three rules...

1) Dont' try and play everthing you can do. If you are good you won't be able to do all your licks in one gig

2) Don't play drums, play music

3) Always play at 50%

Before I go onstage I keep telling myself this, it's like a stratergy. If I feel a bit nervous onstage I just go through those three things and try and focus on them, eliminating anything in my playing that does not fit in with these three ideas...

dj_ando
10-25-2005, 11:48 PM
3 very good rules to abide by :) you're a very sensible drummer.

Kristian
10-26-2005, 09:16 AM
I know a lot about how to cotrol my nerves and so on, becuase I need it in shooting competitions where I have to keep still at all times. :P

My tips for nervousness on stage is to let loose. Don't take it that serious, don't care if you play something wrong, because you're there to have fun. (atleast I am. who would do it if it was boring)

Tip number two is to get to know the audience, maybe have a short speech, ask if you can introduce the band or something. Share a laugh with the audience is always relaxing. :thumb:

oliv_da_skinmasher
10-26-2005, 10:08 AM
All i do is: take a nice shower, eat somthing simple, drink loads of water sound check, toilet, bit more water, make sure that all my stuff is ready by my kit.
doin all this helps to calm me down then warm up n go on stage

dedard9fx
10-27-2005, 01:58 PM
Awesome thread. :cool:
Yep!

Japan3gro
10-27-2005, 04:50 PM
I think if you go out in front of people with the idea "I can't wait until this thing is over with" you have already defeated yourself. Staying positive would be my main thing. Also playing in front of more and more people as RichHunt mentioned.

Drum Phil
10-27-2005, 05:05 PM
A stiff shot of vodka and a smoke works for me :)

LoneStarDrummer
10-27-2005, 05:10 PM
Once you get those first couple a notes outs everythings breeze.

i agree. getting started and being confident before you start is the hardest part. eventually it'll all fall in place in you'll be in the right state of mind. things just seem to click once you get over the initial nervouseness.

still, this i a really well done thread. :thumb:

dj_ando
10-27-2005, 08:52 PM
thank you guys :)

if it's on a gig, i find my nerves disappear after the first number, and usually everything's cool. another situation however would be in a competition where you've got one song to play - i can get pretty nervous for things like that, and these techniques have worked a treat for big events.

sam'drummerboi'ellis
11-26-2005, 05:53 AM
This is a great thread. Im already gettin nervous for my next auditions
ive never giged before and if we get through then it will be to 1000 people at my school. I know a lot of them too!

entwistlewasgreatest
11-26-2005, 07:40 AM
I dunno about anyone else but before a gig I like to calm my nerves with a beer or two...

PdoubleE
11-26-2005, 08:39 AM
booze seems to take you coordination away if you suffer from really bad nerves witch i do i have managed to cope with without drugs try out xanax or ativan at low doses they will not effect your performance but if they do there are also drugs that are not quite as strong such as buspar and a couple drugs for bi-polor disorder- seraquel zyprexa imo the latter drugs are better

ToneDef™
11-26-2005, 11:10 AM
This thread is spot on.

I've always suffered from bad anxiety and to me there is no worse feeling that before I'm about to play in front of people. I have that gagging feeling in my throat, sweats, dizziness, bad stomach.. Everything. It's an absolute nightmare but you just gotta learn to deal with it I guess. I've noticed that once you start to play it goes away, and once it's over you wonder why you were ever nervous.

It's always the usual culprits though. Dropping sticks, forgetting the song, missing cymbals. If you breeze through the first song then you're pretty much ok for the set. I've had some bad first songs though and I just feel like I'm in a situation where I don't wanna be there at all and that it was such a waste of time lugging my stuff to the venue just to make a fool of myself.

Out of the choice of playing live and not playing live, gimme my garage any day.

Shoot2thrill
11-26-2005, 11:52 AM
The thing that helps me most before playing a show is to just kinda sit down close my eyes and run through all the songs in my head. I like to visualize myself playing and the crowd's reaction to it because I mean behind the kit it's kinda hard to see that stuff. That usually puts me in the right state of mind to go out and just flip out while playing and get the crowd going.

derryk
11-26-2005, 11:58 AM
instead of beer, you could use one of those super caffeinated drinks? but that probably has bad reprecussions.. at any rate, this is a great thread:thumb: well thought-out, well explained, you couldn't improve on this.

[UEAK]Clowd
11-26-2005, 03:02 PM
I used to get nervous before shows... but that's when I looked at shows as like, a competition with the other bands... but then I realized it's not a competition, and everyone there is going to be respectful... and if anyone isn't, then they can **** off.

There's still a bit of nerves right before you start playing.. but, that's unavoidable.

edit: If I make a really obvious mess up during a song, like missing a cymbal or dropping a stick, I usually just laugh about it... it's not really embarassing anymore.

Jezen
11-26-2005, 07:18 PM
Very, very good thread. It was really helpful as I just played in front of 200 people, and next Sunday i'm playing in front of 1000.
Good job man :thumb:

gastery6
11-26-2005, 07:47 PM
I find when I'm about to go on I am nervous, but then after like 5 mins I am starting to clam down. This happends alot because I have drama class so I perform about every 2 weeks