What drugs can overcome Stage Fright?


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>>Speaking of which, I have a question for those of you advocating against perscribed medicine: what am I supposed to do when the banana/meditation/anything on this planet doesn't work for me? Should I just give up my dreams and quit? Hmmm? Do you want me to just stop performing?>>

No I don't want you to stop performing

I want to you to tell me what pressures we the grand violner's of the world put upon you so that you have a schedule that is probably not possible.

Tell us about your day.... your school -- your music -- your homework your exercise your diet....

Tell us about your goals -- why does music intrigue you if it does....

Tell us how you practice -- tell us if the world doesn't give the true musical student the room to manoeuvre....

Tell us what you feel makes it necessary to take something to perform.

Pam

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I don't understand what all the drugs are for ?

I choose music as a mind enhancing and theraputic form of relaxation, NOT MIND ALTERING !

Is this the same argument that world class atheletes use, "TO DOPE OR NOT TOO DOPE" (steriods)?

I have my nervous spells and tension like everyone else, but if I suck as a musician because I don't use drugs, I can accept that. I'm happy to be the best I can be: O'natural.

I read a few things that I found to work in this post- Practice, proper sleep , and proper diet. But then again, the drug addicts are everywhere and we seem to justify and somehow promote their existance. Maybe if we band together, we can get the drugs off of the street corners and onto the stage.(thats sarcasm for those who are medicated)

Seriously, I'll try my best without artificial courage, and when I'm done, Point me to the beer cooler. Not before, not during, but only after.

mike

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Who me? I don't complain about my schedule, it's fairly mellow. I practice on an aver. of 1.5-2 hours per day, maybe more on the weekends, but doubtful.

I'm not aspiring to be some grandeur violinist. In fact, I don't even want to become a performance major! My true goal is to get a teaching degree in music, but to achieve this I still need to practice performing (especially since I've got those blasted college auditions coming up!). That's the mental reason for performing, but in my heart I know that I do it to allow others to hear my music, to enjoy it.

However, that's a little difficult to do when you're standing up there and shaking your arms off.

It's not stress, it's just stage anxiety. People get it, there's not much you can do about it. I'm trying to get over it by playing in front of small audiences (one at a time), but it's not getting any better. It's just something that I have to live with, and I hate it when people, especially those who don't really suffer it, just say that you can get by it with a little banana.

--Mazas

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Well you answered what I wanted to know

Your 16 I am 40 something I practice 3 hrs per day to get where I want.....

I have been playing for 2 years.....

In one week we will perform the first movement of Beethoven's 1st symphony -- is that possible -- to me no -- yet still I will do it and almost make it -- but the violin world seems bent in that pace direction.

Do I have performance anxiety -- you bet - up to the ying yang -- ask me about my solo in three weeks- watch my bow shake -- I just gave up on that -- its a fait accompli !! do I take anything for it -- nope....

Pam

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chill out ! Ok breathe.....

I once had a bad experience when I played in front of an audience for the first time... my hand was sweating and shaking really bad, memory slips, you name it!

The banana trick works (no jitters), but it might help if you drink some herb tea like chamomile too- its helped me calm down before.

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This problem is different for everyone. Much of it is simply physiological (adrenaline) and differs radically from one person to the next. Psychoanalysis may work (if you've got the time and the money). Bananas may work. Inderal may work.

Just be sure that what you do is safe and, ideally, legal.

Do not stand in judgment upon others who do not have your physiology, your strength of character, your security blanket, your imagination, or your technique.

Recognize that this problem afflicts many professionals as well as amateurs, and that time on stage does not necessarily subdue the fear response. Many, MANY people use prescription drugs to treat this: beta blockers like inderal are neither illegal nor unsafe in the doses prescribed by physicians to treat physical effects of stage fright; they do not alter one's mind; rather, they block one's adrenal response. They do NOT enhance performance--make one's playing faster, sweeter, or more perfectly in tune--beyond one's natural capabilities. If anything, they may interfere with one's "adrenal high" that can boost a performance above one's typical level of performance.

I like to play, & I like to perform at my level of capability. I am paid to play, so I had better get the job done. I am not competing with anyone anymore--so I'm not "cheating" when I play well. I still get nervous, and I deal with it. I have what is probably an extreme form of performance anxiety: I once developed shingles prior to a performance, and I have other uncontrollable physical reactions to nerves. I produce a whole HEAP of adrenaline. (Curiously, I can speak improvisationally before a huge and distinguished crowd and feel nothing but a performance rush

--yet I have great sympathy for those with a fear of public speaking).

I deal with this in the way that works most safely and effectively for me. That's that. I hope everyone here does the same. But please, recognize that this is a problem--a common problem, a BIG problem--and don't stand in judgment of those who are different than yourself. If one person wants to take a nip, & it works for him, COOL. If another eats five bananas and can still perform without diarrhea, more power to 'em. If Kreuzer does the trick, even better. If inderal works, grand. If chocolate does, that's lovely too. I like voodoo dolls, myself--great for pre-performance jitters.

J.

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Gosh, Violinfairy--Sorry about that long vent! I wasn't really responding to your post! So sorry. It's just a general commentary on this thread. . .

I wasn't going to step in--been down that road before, & got my share of grief for it. But it remains such a big issue for so many people--not just in music, but in all performance fields. I hear lots of judgment, lots of "you, bad!"--on this thread as on the previous one. So I just can't help myself!

J.

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Has anyone tried hypnotherapy?

This is a serious question. I know many athletes have used it to combat performance anxiety in their field, and am wondering if it would have a place in the musical arena.

I can't see why it wouldn't work...I haven't met any muso that has done it, though.

xan

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  • 2 years later...

I can't believe someone would go back two years to resurect this old thread instead of starting a new one.

If you have not been attacked by stage fright, you have no idea how debilitating it can be. I played all over the place with no problems until I was 17 and then, in the least threatening venue I'd ever had, playing the easiest music I'd ever performed, my bow started to shake. I had no idea what was happening. But after that it never went away - and it gradually got worse - so that a few years later it also attacked my cello playing. Once the bow arm goes bad, the left hand tends to tighten up too. (Alcohol dulls one's mind and muscle responses so that only works when you play for St. Paddy's Day parties.) It was't until 26 years later, at a chamber musidc workshop that I learned that beta blockers (Inderal, for example) suppress the adrenalin response that causes anxiety (fear) to lead to those shakes. It is not something I would ever mention to a person (student) below "legal age."

Of course stage fright is all in one's mind, and I know of people who have taken Inderal for a short time and realizing there is this absolute cure for stage fright symptoms no longer need it. I am not so courageous, and every time (since 1977) that I have publicly performed a solo or in a one-on-a-part ensemble I take about 5 mg of a beta blocker. It has never failed me, in fact, some times in solo performance I will purposely (and unecessarily_ take a slow upbow all the way to the frog just to prove to my memory of those awful earlier years that I can do it).

An adult can probably get an MD to prescribe it, I've had no trouble with that - and the stuff is very inexpensive. Other asthmatics might react badly to it (I don't). One should never drink alcohol when one is going to take a beta blocker - or after taking one. Even though the effect of the beta blocker is not long lasting, if you have performances on successive days there is a buildup that can be felt - even with tiny 5 mg doses.

OF course, people already on betablockers for medicinal purposes have had their stage fright cured as a side effect.

ADDED 1/15/2017: Propranolol is also prescribed to relieve essential tremor, a condition that might cause one to shake even in a stress-free environment when practicing alone. If this is a problem that causes bow shaking it might be helpful to find a more stable way to hold the bow - even a way one's teacher might totally disapprove of.

Andy

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Another Bach essence that is made just for this sort of thing is called "Courgae and Confidence" Bach remedies work for lots of people.

In the classical guitar there is a need for solo performances even for someone like me who has been playing for just 2 years. As such we have a lot of workshops designed to help us overcome our anxieties about this. My guitar teacher puts on quarterly performance workshops and he accepts violinists and other instruments in the workshop. If you look for performance workshops in your area you might find the same deal.

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Hi xania

Yes, hypnotherapy can help some people with things like stage fright, but not everyone. It's worth trying if a person is reasonably willing to give it a chance. I am a trained and experienced hypnotherapist and have used it successfully with athletes, musicians and dancers.

There was a British musician who put together a CD of self-hypnosis suggestions for musicians for performance anxiety. Wish I could remember his name. I did get a copy of it but found it was a bit restricted in its range whereas I prefer to tailor sessions more individually for particular clients and their issues. If anyone is thinking of trying hypnosis, I would recommend you find someone who has done formal training in it, not just someone who has taught themselves.

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If you want to try it, Inderol (Propranolol is the generic name) can be very useful when nervousness inhibits your performance. You may still have nervous thoughts, but your physical reaction to them will be inhibited. Most times I've used it, all I've noticed is that my playing isn't a nervous disaster, when it otherwise might be--no real noticeable side effects. It seems important to use the drug in moderation, if you decide to try it--It's hard to describe, but it can even have too powerful an effect, and at times I think I've sounded weak when on it.

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Try practicing outside in a quasi-public environment, passerbys can listen and such. If your lucky someone might throw change in your case. Work on meditational practice and sort of getting inside your music as you play - when I talk about something that reallly interests me I lose the sense of anyone else around, when I play something I really love it just flows. All in all though just play and I hope your ind something that works!

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I think the best cure for stage fright is being prepared to the ultimate degree, but that is not always possible.

In all this talk about drugs, I am surprised that no one has yet issued a "Caution" about beta blockers. I know there are certain musical situations where they are being literally passed around like breath-mints, but please don't take them unless they've been prescribed by a doc who has actually examined you and taken your blood pressure!

I survived studenthood without any stagefright, but it reared its ugly head in a huge way at an audition early in my professional life. (Since then, auditions are a bugaboo for me, but performing in most situations is okay.)

Once when I was in my 20s, I was at a summer festival that only lasted a couple weeks, and ended with performances of what we'd done in those weeks (sonata, concerto and/or small chamber works). It was a situation where everybody felt they could/should have been more prepared than we were, and not surprisingly, it was also a situation where beta blockers were being shared like breath mints backstage! It was then that I took one (actually half of a very small pill) for the first and only time. True, my bow did not shake as I feared it would, but on hearing the tape of my playing afterward, I had to admit that as a performance it was lackluster and boring. More significantly, I felt tired and groggy afterward, and went straight back to my room and to bed. (Mind you, this is from a person who normally stays up till the wee hours, and after performances always takes a long time to "wind down"!)

At that age, I probably didn't even know what blood pressure was, but one of the effects of the beta blockers, I've since learned, is that they lower it. Now I'm in my 50s, and I know from actually measuring it that my "normal" BP is already 'way on the low side of normal, so I would never dream of putting that stuff in my body again.

As to the other suggestions, I find that the Bach Rescue Remedy is good, as are a few homeopathics I can't remember the names of. But solid, complete preparation, knowing the music backwards and forwards, tested by playing what I've prepared in front of critical colleagues at least once, is the best remedy I've found yet.

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I think it's an individual thing. Some people find it helpful to make a connection with the audience and in some cases they find it helps to think that they're playing for a particular person in the audience. Other players find the audience a distraction and are happier playing with their mind in their own world. For some of these people if they think about the audience they start thinking about what the audience is thinking of them and that can lead to negative thought patterns which interfere with playing.

I always preferred not to focus on the audience until I started playing more folk and dance music where you just can't switch off from the audience. Fortunately this sort of playing is usually more fun than concentration so interacting with the audience can be quite fun to do.

Oh yes, another thing with not interacting with the audience is that sometimes the lighting makes it impossible to see anything out there much anyway. If you do look out there all you see is a sort of darkened blur - if you want to see an individual you end up squinting into the darkness - not a good look!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I played under the influence of all kinds of things and drugs will surely calm you down... but sometimes too much.

I auditioned for the local youth symphony after packing and smoking at least four bowls all by my little self... made second chair, but I'm sure everyone could tell I was high as a kite.

I've played many concerts drunk... my violin has some battle scars to proove it.

I've practiced Bach on acid... that wasn't fun.

But everything I've done... I don't think it helped. Made things a little more fun maybe, but didn't help my playing. But that was a long time ago... the only thing I do these days is have a glass of whiskey or a few beers and wail away on my guitar.

Go at it with nothing. You need a little stage fright... the adrenaline rush will get you through it.

Ben

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  • 11 years later...
17 hours ago, Yucca said:

Two word response to an old thread. Practice and preparation, both mental and physical.

If it were this simple, why would so many professional musicians (including many top soloists) experience and seek treatment for crippling stage fright?

http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/312920-musicians-use-beta-blockers-relieve-stage-fright/

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1 hour ago, crazy jane said:

If it were this simple, why would so many professional musicians (including many top soloists) experience and seek treatment for crippling stage fright?

http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/312920-musicians-use-beta-blockers-relieve-stage-fright/

A question would be how many pros are or were pill poppers and such before seeking treatment.  

My best advice when one goes out on stage about to be scared/nervous -  just gimme what's mine and I''ll see you when I'm through.  It helps to practice your craft cleanly and also to be thrown into the spotlight at a young age. 

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