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  #1  
Old 02-25-2020, 06:45 AM
capefisherman capefisherman is online now
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Default They WANT you to succeed (and forgive you if you don't)

Over the last few months I've invited a few of my students to sit in with me at a local cafe where I've been doing an every-week gig for over eight years (which I love and sincerely appreciate; if you are coming to Cape Cod for vacation it's worth a visit; send me a PM and I'll give you the details). So far three of them have and I anticipate more will in the future.

What I've noticed - not surprisingly - is that in spite of being good players and rehearsing with them the three or four tunes we'll be playing - they get very nervous, at least for the first song. Part of how I try to minimize their nervousness is to help them understand that the overwhelming majority of the people in the small audiences are ON THEIR SIDE! They are pulling for you and are very forgiving of any mistakes. When my students think about this and accept it they dive in and all is well. By the end of their three or four songs, they wish they could play more!

I think that this is true to a great extent for all of us, regardless of the skill level. Buying in to the concept of audience support goes a long way toward giving our best. It's a small thing, I know, and won't eliminate nervousness (and neither should it - a bit of nervousness always results in a better performance, for me anyway) but it can certainly help.

Gene

capecodacoustics.com
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Old 02-25-2020, 03:07 PM
funkapus funkapus is offline
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One of the problems I have is, if I imagine they're on my side, I still feel horribly anxious. It's just for a different reason.

Instead of being scared that people are going to think horrible thoughts about me if I play poorly, I have feelings and thoughts that friends are out there wishing the best for me and I'm letting them down. They're having good thoughts towards me and I'm disappointing them.

I think I'm just nuts.
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Old 02-26-2020, 05:55 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Good post! I know the syndrome well.

Audiences are never critical - unless they've paid good money to see someone professional who doesn't deliver. At this kind of free venue, where players are clearly amateurs, they all want you to succeed, and will forgive (even expect) a few mistakes or nervousness.

The thing to avoid is to keep starting a piece again if it goes wrong in the middle. A small mistake will probably not be noticed at all, as long as you keep playing. If it's a serious mistake - something that forces you stop because you forgot the next bit, or it's a fundamental screw-up that everyone notices - starting again once is OK, at least if it goes wrong near the beginning. Otherwise, just abandon it, with a rueful laugh.

Similarly with apology. Audiences are easily embarrassed (they tend to feel your own embarrassment). You can apologise if you have to start again, but if you manage to get to the end of the tune, even if there are a lot of mistakes on the way, never apologise. Just be genuine with your thanks.
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Old 02-26-2020, 07:25 AM
rmp rmp is offline
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the more you do it, the less anxious ya get.

People are not hanging on every note we sing or play, unless they are musicians as well, and the ones worth their salt, will be supportive and kind anyway.
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Old 02-26-2020, 05:46 PM
capefisherman capefisherman is online now
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Well said, Jon. I always stress with my students that the link they share with the audience is rhythm. Pretty much anyone can tap their feet and when a player stops that link is broken.....but pretty much nobody knows how to play an F Major chord, so if you blow that one, forge ahead. And never, ever apologize. Make a joke about really obvious mistakes if you want. But for the love of God, keep going!!!! ;~)
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Old 02-27-2020, 06:42 AM
capefisherman capefisherman is online now
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Of course the proviso in all this is if there are guitar players in the audience. I can always tell if there are by their focus on my hands and often a slight smirk on their face. I don't let it bother me, and neither should you. The old joke always comes to mind:

How many guitar players does it take to change a light bulb?

Five.

One to change the bulb and the other four to say - I could do that!


;~)
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Old 02-27-2020, 07:13 AM
Meursault Meursault is offline
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I was probably off topic.
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Last edited by Meursault; 02-27-2020 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 02-27-2020, 05:28 PM
Deliberate1 Deliberate1 is online now
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You have taught your students an invaluable lesson. One that will shape how they approach the experience of performing throughout their lives. Good for you.

Hopefully, some of you are familiar with Gordon Bok, a Maine folklorist and musician who is revered here in Maine for his original work and as a champion and conservator of nautical lyrical story-telling.

Last year, I saw him in concert in the historic Stonington Opera House, which dates back to the 19th century. Just him, his guitar and signature bass-baritone voice. Now, I regard this repertoire as the most difficult - often involving long, complex narratives set to music. In the course of his 90 minute concert, this nearly 81 year old consummate professional often stumbled with lost lyrics and musical missteps. He would stop, collect himself, and then move on. His voice, regarded as the vocal equivalent of maple syrup, often lacked that liquid, sonorous quality that marked his prime.
And none of it mattered. Well, it did, making him an even more endearing performer. We embraced his humanity, fallibility and willingness to persevere in his craft, in public, even as his faculties betrayed him. That is, in my judgment, the definition of an artist. One who makes it all about the art no matter the personal struggle.
David
Please listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU1FUgcv1Lc

Last edited by Deliberate1; 02-27-2020 at 05:33 PM.
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