Free Download - 17 Essential Strum Patterns PDF
by Jamie Andreas
Here is a recent letter:
If I may call you that..how does one overcome
Stage Fright?..I can play very well (I don't mean to brag) and
I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm doing it and alone I can come
up with some real good licks but in public I freeze..please help
me if you can.
Now that is certainly the million-dollar question!
If I could give you the prescription for that one in a few sentences,
I think I could sell it for a million dollars! You see Larry,
your question is very deep, very fundamental. It strikes at the
very core of not only what being a performing musician is about,
it also has everything to do with what being a PERSON is all about.
Fortunately for you and for anyone else who reads
this, and is also suffering from the same thing (which I think
includes everybody) I have vast experience with this one. In my
many years of performing, I have suffered every degree of what
is called "stage fright". I have gone from someone who used to
look out on the stage before a concert, and feel like there was
a rope hanging out there, waiting for my neck, to someone who
could play before an audience feeling as comfortable as if I were
in my own living room all by myself. I have also dealt with, experimented
with, and thought about this subject from many different angles,
and believe I have come to certain truths concerning it.
Stage Fright Isn't
First, let me tell you some thoughts concerning
a lot of the ideas that are commonly tossed around when one hears
advice on this phenomenon from the many people who comment on
it (and I have read many). One of the most prevalent bits of wisdom
concerning stage fright is to regard it as some kind of potentially
helpful thing. I have heard people say things like "oh, it's really
a good thing. You should connect with that energy and use it in
Well, I always think whoever says that is definitely
not feeling the same thing I'm feeling when I feel that FEAR,
that "stage fright". Because for me, there is nothing useful,
pleasant or fun about it. The first thing I ever noticed about
it was that it did nothing but prevent me from playing well, or
even having any fun and enjoying myself. The second thing I noticed,
was that it robbed these same things from the audience as well,
most of whom are there (I assume) to hear what I sound like when
I AM having a good time, doing this thing called "playing" music.
I once heard a concert performer giving advice to
a young player on this subject, and his answer to the students
professed problem with stage fright was "that's because you care",
I guess he was implying "don't worry about it, it is a sign you
care about what you are doing." I doubt it helped this guy very
much. Probably left him feeling rather perplexed. Now he not only
had to feel his stage fright, he had to conclude that it was the
inevitable result of caring about what he was doing. I guess the
message is "to care hurts". Does that mean if you don't feel stage
fright you don't care about your performance? To me, that explanation
is absurd. True, I agree the "fright" has it's origin in a certain
kind of caring, but what I hope to make clear, is that it is caring
about all the WRONG THINGS!. In a nutshell, it is the result of
caring about how you, the player are appearing in other's eyes,
(or your own eyes, as we shall see) than you do about the music
you are making, or sharing it with anyone else.
No, stage fright is not your friend, at least it
has never been my friend. We all get to choose our friends, and
for me, a friend is someone I can have fun with. This guy's no
Before delving into the reasons for stage fright,
and what to do about it, let's bring into focus a few of the undeniable
effects of it. For the audience, it is nothing but robbing them
of their reason for being there. If I go out on stage to share
my music with an audience (and I am really sharing not only the
music, I am also sharing with them my whole relationship to music
and the guitar), the audience is not there to watch me display
my fear of them! They did not take a slice of their precious time
to come and watch me get caught in the grip of my psychological
problem about being up there in front of them, they came to hear
music! They came to hear someone play, not freak out! So if nothing
else, it is an extreme discourtesy to the audience members, and
I believe it is the responsibility of every performer to get his
or her head straight on this subject, (or at least try) and make
sure they can deliver the product they are supposed to be delivering.
For me, the performer, the effects of stage fright
are equally devastating. How ridiculous, how cruel, that I have
spent perhaps hundreds of hours practicing, studying, working
and sweating to learn these pieces and prepare this concert, and
I go out on stage and have a severe traumatic experience! If I
want to torture myself that badly, there are lots of easier ways
to do it that don't entail wasted practice time. I could race
down the highway in the wrong lane at 100 miles an hour if I want
to scare the be-jesus out of myself the way I have at times in
my life by doing the "stage fright" thing.
How disheartening to have worked for hours to discover
and shape the nuances of a particular passage, and not even be
able to get the notes out when it comes time to share with another
human being the fruits of my labor. It is truly nothing but its
own special form of "musical impotence". And it is all a completely
self-created and self-imposed experience. It is one of the many
ways human beings turn what could be beautiful into something
ugly in their lives.
not happening to you, you are doing it!
Having brought these points into focus, the next
thing to realize is this. Stage fright is not something that happens
to us, it is something we do. It is not something "coming over
us", it is something we are deliberately doing, from the inside,
deep within ourselves. We are just not aware that we are doing
it, because we never look that deep. So it appears to be out of
our control, it appears to be something that is "happening" to
us, not something we are doing.
I had a dramatic illustration of this truth one
time when I was a young player, just beginning to face some of
my fears about my own playing. I was just beginning to experiment
with recording myself. I was shocked as I turned on the tape recorder
and began to feel terribly afraid, and in fact experienced all
the same symptoms of stage fright I had before that time had the
displeasure of experiencing on an actual stage. There I was, sitting
alone in my bedroom, with my heart pounding as I began to play
for A TAPE RECORDER! What should we call that "Recorder Fright"?
This brings us to the crux of the matter. There
is no such thing as Stage Fright. People are not afraid of stages.
There is only People Fright. People are afraid of people. When
I was sitting there, unable to play for my tape recorder, I was
experiencing People Fright. The person I was afraid of was me!
Or more properly speaking, I was afraid of all the voices in my
head that I knew would start yelling at me when I listened back
and heard that my playing wasn't quite what all those voices demanded
The reason you, me, and everybody else does this
thing called stage fright, is because there is one thing that
all people fear the most, more even, then they fear death itself.
And that thing is OTHER PEOPLE!
I have read of studies where people are asked "what
is your greatest fear". Well, the winner is not fear of death,
or auto accident. It is fear of public speaking. That says a lot.
That is another way of saying "the thing I fear most is other
people, especially if they are looking at me, paying attention
just to me and what I am doing." Now isn't that an interesting
paradox. Psychiatrist's offices the world over are full of people
talking about how they didn't get enough love or attention growing
up. Nobody was interested in them or what they said, did, or thought.
They are full of people willing to pay a high hourly rate just
so SOMEONE will listen to them for an hour (make that fifty minutes).
And yet, put somebody up on stage, where they can get every iota
of everybody's attention, (no competition like having that pesky
brother or sister around) and they fall apart! Isn't that strange?
Life is full of little practical jokes like that. I guess it's
what they always say about too much of a good thing.......
here for Stage Fright part 2
Copyright 2000 by Jamie Andreas.
All Rights Reserved.
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Free Download - 17 Essential Strum Patterns PDF