Rituals help musicians through performance nerves

by SERGIO MADRID/Staff Writer

Musicians are a rare breed.

Every little thing they do is what fans think of as being “cool.” While they may seem to be cool, calm, and collected, more often than not these musicians are a mess, trying not to do anything embarrassing and hoping that they are liked.

Before every performance, most musicians have a routine they follow, almost like a ritual. Whether for luck or to calm the nerves, they throw back a shot or two, say a prayer, maybe even go to the back room and knock out a few push-ups. You may even find a musician isolated in the restroom washing his or her face a few times after a vomit session.

The reality is that if you do suffer from stage fright, you are not so much suffering as your body is prepping you for what lies ahead. You never do reach that point of readiness as far as nerves go. As you would jump right into cold waters to get your body used to the temperature change, you just take that first step on stage and get into it. If you practiced and put in the hours, that hard work will show in your preformance.

But, no matter how many hours you’ve put into your craft, nothing prepares you for all that you’re working toward, which is “The Show.” That one gig does not mean that if you mess it up, it’s over; just hang up your guitar now, put your sticks down, you’re done. That is unlikely. Instead, if you mess up, push through it and keep playing. Chances are if you do mess up, depending on how bad the mistake actually was, the audience probably didn’t even notice.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to get negative feedback. In fact, take the constructive criticism and learn from it. No matter how crudely it may come across, you gain something positive from it, especially when it comes from an older musician who has heard it all before. Most of the time an aged musician is more than happy to fill you in on his or her past experiences and pass down knowledge to help you on your way up.

If the goosebumps don’t seem to be fading and your anxiety dwells, keep in mind that every performer before you has suffered from the same sicknesses. From Eddie Van Halen to Adelle, who has openly admitted to throwing up before a show, the number of artists dealing with the same anxiety as you is nearly countless.

So remember that you’re not alone in your fear the next time you are walking the plank that leads from backstage to center stage. Get in your comfort zone as soon as possible by diving right into it.

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