Audience Anxiety

I recently took part in a national competition for unsigned, original artists; Live & Unsigned. I was rather proud of my progress as I made it to the semi finals and won an award for Best Original Song.

Shiny!

I did however leave the competition extremely frustrated with myself and with the lyrics of Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ repeating themselves in my head.

“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready to drop bombs,
But he keeps on forgetting what he wrote down,
The whole crowd goes so loud
He opens his mouth, but the words won’t come out
He’s choking how, everybody’s joking now
The clock’s run out, time’s up oh
Snap back to reality, Oh there goes gravity
Oh, there goes Rabbit, he choked
He’s so mad, but he won’t give up that easy”

I have reasonable issues with nerves at gigs in the best of times but find that they can be motivating as opposed to a hindrance. When I stood on that stage however, with the silhouettes of the industry judges who were sat before me, my nerves went to pieces. Wobbly legs, light-headed and with sweaty palms, somehow I managed to make it from the beginning to the end, with a multitude of mistakes in between! You can view my audition here!

On returning home I wanted to find out ways to try and prevent that from happening again, so I did a little research and spoke to a few musician friends about nerves and stage fright to try and gather some tools. Here is what I came up with..

  • Move – Nerves and anxiety manifest as a physical energy so if you move your body you help to disperse this nervous energy.
  • Breathe – When nervous, subconsciously our breathing become lighter, this is what causes the light-headedness… so breathe slow, deep breaths, using your diaphragm. I learned a great breathing technique from JB Glossinger at MorningCoach.com that he calls ‘Four Corner Breathing’. Yes, it is what it sounds like.. look up and left, breath in, look up and right, breath out. Look down and right, breath in, then down and left out. Repeat 🙂
  • Herbal Remedies – Ironically I had a bottle of Bach Rescue Remedy with my at the audition but I forgot to take some, but these powerful little drops can help calm nerves, as can the scents of orange or lavender.. so perhaps chew some orange chewing gum before going on stage or wear lavender perfume. During my search for advice I also found out about a drink called bcalm, haven’t tried it yet, but will let you know if I do.
  • Creating a safe-space – I have seen Newton Faulkner performing with a rug onstage and until recently I had no idea that the purpose of it is to help with his own nerves. If feeling nervous, he can look down, see and feel this piece of home beneath his feet and mentally put himself in the comfort of his own home, in his safe space. What a nice idea 🙂

 

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