About 10 yrs ago I played in a jump blues band. We done a lot gigs of various sizes & a few tours etc….I just started playing again ( as I stopped gigging since then) I now get really nervous & sometimes it stays with me the whole gig! Anyone got any ideas or tips to keep this in check…?
I always get a little bit nervous sometimes more then others. I think it adds to the fun if you don’t get some pre gigs nerves I would take it as sign to not be doing it. I try to harness my nervous energy and let it come out it in my playing. The energy at least not the nerves. I also feel its important to keep your confidence and play with courage ( thats how I think of it in my head ) more or less don’t be tentative with what you play. If you start hesitating on your thoughts of what your going to play your in for a bad gig. I would much rather go for whatever pops into my head and if I flub it so be it.
I tend to scrutinize my performances ALOT! because it makes me get better faster. I wack the voice recorder on my iphone and record out whole set so I can listen back to what I played what I did right and more importantly wrong. I really recommend doing that. With I guess you would call it the adrenaline of being on stage its hard to remember much of what the hell happened by the end of it.
A wile back I read about some research a university did with musicians and they basically concluded that If a musician was to operate the best his brain would allow he would still be at 80% efficiency. So if you have your best night ever your still 20% off perfect. On your average night you could be at 40%! . I found that very interesting and I like to remember it as it reminds me we are all human and making some mistakes are most always going to happen so dont get down about making them.
Im interested to hear others thoughts and opinions on this topic.
Thanks Dan, some very interesting points.I definitely over think EVERYTHING which doesn’t help. I’m a very honest guitar player. Put 5 guys up there on a jam night & I’ll tell you where I’d fit. The problem is worse when other guitar players turn up…!! I have an irrational fear of other guitar players! I get more nervous when they turn up, because I want to play well & feel because of my nerves I’m not doing my playing justice & therefore don’t do my playing justice. I as mentioned earlier, once you start thinking about things…..You’re definitely right on playing with confidence though. I’d just like to be more relaxed when playing.
How many guitar players does it take to change a lightbulb…..?
20, 1 to change the bulb & the other 19 to tell they could’ve done it better…!
Haha I think the other guitar player one is quite common and natural feeling to get.
I don’t think I have ever walked out of a gig and thought man I really played to my full ability it’s always more like man I can play better then that when I’m alone in my room. The fact is as soon as there is a set of eyes on you be it one or 500 sets everything changes. The best way to combat that I think is just experience.
The thing is with doing anything artistic be it guitar, painting what ever we always have very strong influences which means your always holding people well above your self and it’s easy to think man I suck compared to these guys I love so much. I can guarantee your heros had the same thoughts with their influences. Every now and again it’s good to just reflect on how far you have come.
Something I have found with playing with casual musicians is they can walk out of a gig perfectly fine with knowing their performance was sub par and reason being I think is because they don’t have any real influences. Nothing wrong with that of course.
Another important thing is to not dwell on mistakes. Whenever you catch a great player make a noticeable mistake man they don’t even bat an eye lid. Just keep on keepin on !
Forgot prob the most important one for me is preparation. If I’ve done everything I can to prepare then I can accept the mistakes I make during the night.
That’s alot of good insight. I tell you what, I get jumpy for all sorts of reasons. If I’m a sideman backing a harp player, I feel pretty comfortable. I can navigate those gigs with little effort. However if I play with James it’s a little different. He really makes it comfortable for me to play. His phrasing and dynamics in both his singin and playing are awesome. With that being said he is still my hero and I look over at him and say WOW! I’m playing with James I really don’t want to screw this up. I get the most nervous in smaller band settings where the singer is one of my drummers and I’m standing out front. I don’t feel insulated like I do when I have a singer up front. I worry more about how i’m being percieved by the audience, and if what I’m laying down is sounding good. Like Dan said it’s experience. I’m really embracing that part of my development, and hopefully the nerves settle down and I get more comfortable laying my ass out front. I can’t imagine being a singer that would really scare the crap out of me.
When you say that Tommy singing is probably what gets in my head the most. I don’t get nervous about the singing in front of a bunch of people part but forgetting words! I seem to be really good at that haha. One good thing though is you have no time to over think your guitar playing.
It’s good to know you get some nerves too tommy. Proof everyone feels it at least a little bit.
Thanks for the replies guys. Pleased to know I’m not the only one who thinks about this. I’m about to embark on a new project where I’ll be singing which is slightly out of my comfort zone as I’ve only done the odd number. When ever I play with a singer I don’t want a set list as I find I’m playing one song, looking down the set list & then worry about bits in songs coming up! This time round it’s all about me. However….I’m going into this with real positive attitude. I’ve recorded a rehearsal, which I’m happy with ( well as much as I’ll ever be!) as Dan pointed out earlier I’m slightly more worried about the singing which may make me not so worried about my guitar playing. First gig this Thursday….bring it on…! As for the other guitar players turning up….I’m not sure why this concerns me so much. Where I live I’m surrounded by guitar players who want to be ‘ Joe Bonamassa & ‘ John Mayer’ playing Blues Rock….when I wanna be ‘Junior Watson’ & ‘Tommy’..!! I’m lucky if they’ve even heard of ‘Kid Ramos’ & ‘Duke Robillard’ let alone ‘ Bill Jennings’..!! But I think you nailed it Dan when you said about the inspiration for this stuff…I sit at home playing all these jump blues licks etc…. But when I play out I nervous so I tend to back off & don’t commit to the lick or I get half way through my bill Jennings lick & pull out of it as I think I’m not doing it right. When I should be thinking… These licks are fucking tricky & I’m playing em’…( sort of ) whereas a few weeks ago I couldn’t..!
Who needs therapy when you got ‘Tommy Harkenriders’ forum!
I have always been a perfectionist. Most of that comes from being a college athlete, because you are always having to put your best foot forward. Mistakes in sports cannot be hidden, and mistakes are black and white. A dropped pass is a dropped pass, a bobbled ground is a missed play. This is going to make a musical point, and give ideas to hopefully help in stage fright. So these ideas n sports are what developed my fear of mistakes, but they are also what caused them to go away when I started playing music. First is you have a lot of stuff to hide behind in music. Not all eyes are on you playing music in a band, like the man tracking down a fly ball for the 3rd out. So for this reason mistakes go unnoticed 95% of the time in music, plus you can always blame the bass player for the off note LOL. The second point is mistakes in music are not black and white. So one example is, most of the times when we make a mistake it is because we heard something else in our head first and that is not exactly what came out. So we think “ah man, I screwed up,” but that doesn’t mean it sounded bad. It will still sound good to others because they do not have the preconception of what it should have been. I can’t tell you how many times I think I screw up a line, then right after that someone asks me to show them what I just played because it sounded hip. Which brings me to another point. There is really no such thing as a bad note in music, it is how it is played that makes it sound bad. Yeah music theory tells us this note does not fit in that key, Blah Blah. In reality, all of these guys we study, like Jennings and Barnes, played a lot of wrong notes in the theory sense but that is what makes us want to study them. That is what gives them the character that makes us want to study them. All notes are game, it is where you start and where end that makes it. When you know this, and teach your ear to resolve tones, mistakes become every easy to correct and make hip. A great player once told me “All players make mistakes. The difference between the pros and the novice, is the pros know how to handle them and fix them. Where the novice freezes up, and then goes home to spend hours trying to learn a line by Tiny Grimes that more than likely was a mistake.” It is true. So much of the music we studied is not exactly what was intended because so much of it is improvised, and there was no such thing as take after take to get it right. They recorded and took the best they could get. So in long this is all of the ideas the helped my fear of mistakes in music.
To the point of players making me nervous, or comparing your self to players, I believe there is no need in it. Music is art and it is all subjective, so what one person likes someone else will not. I’ll use Junior Watson and Tommy Harkenrider for example. I met Tommy at a show he was playing with Junior. I found out about it because my friend loves Junior and wanted someone to make the trek with him. I decided to go when I found out Tommy would be there, because I heard somethings of him already on Youtube and dug what he did. I know 98% of California, and 100% of this forum is going to disagree with me. To make the point it is all subjective, I do not see what the big deal in Junior is and why you guys flip your lid so much over him (and to the topic of fear of making mistakes, that man is the master of just plowing though.) Don’t get me wrong I think he is good, and understand why he has his followers, but to me Tommy is the player I would rather listen too. I went out to see Tommy play and not Junior, and I will argue Tommy is the better player. So to the point, as a player you just have to let go because people will either like you or not, and it has nothing to do with your talent. What made the greats to me, is they studied until it was internalized and when they played it just came out as them. When you read interviews on them, they all talk about how they wish they could sound like this guy, or what not. It is easier said than done, but just go out and be you and don’t worry about screwing up, or more importantly not sounding like Tiny. Tiny, and Bill have already been done so give us something new.
Great stuff gretschman59. You make some very interesting points. You guys have definitely given me stuff to take on board.
Cool! Thanks Stevie73. I am glad you were able to get something from all of that. It is something we all go through. I wish I could say it goes away, but I am not sure that is ever the case. Especially if you are passionate because you are always striving for more. I don’t know if I get less nervous, I just know I deal with it better and I have become more comfortable in myself and what I have to offer.
That’s it ‘ what I have to offer’ this is me & my style like it or not..! I get that as a band. You may not all be amazing players but when you come together you create something that people enjoy…or not. It’s a shame you didn’t enjoy but lots of others do! But…. When it comes down to playing I accept the same attitude but it’s harder as it’s more about MY/YOUR personal playing. Like you said though it’s just a persons perspective. How many times have you played a solo ( which was just ok to you ) & someone says “great solo” & you think..not my best but thanks. Next solo you ‘Nail it’ YOU think now that was a great solo & nothing from anyone..!! All I want to do is be happy with my playing. I know whEn I’ve played well or not. I know I’m goiNg to be as good as I am at home, I just like to do myself justice. When people tell me after gigs what great guitar playing… It goes in one ear & out the other, especially if I feel I’ve not played to great!! I just need to stop over thinking this, chill & play my guitar, 🙂
Sorry typo…that’s supposed to read ‘ I’m NOT going to be as good as I am at home..!!’
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