Stage Fright~help

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

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    brenda-lee on #161893

    Help! I got roped into playing my harp at a small church function in a few days.

    Rachel on #161894

    Hi Brenda, it’s a harp, they’ll love it, even if you forget half the notes.

    Audrey Nickel on #161895

    What you’re describing is perfectly natural…and I think we all go through it. All of Rachel’s advice is golden.

    Audrey Nickel on #161896

    Just to give you an idea of how much people love the harp (no matter what you do on it):

    I was noodling around on a harp this summer between classes.

    unknown-user on #161897

    When in doubt, play the melody line, right hand only. When you throw in a left hand note or two, it will sound as though it was meant to be the way you’re playing it.

    jennifer-buehler on #161898


    lisa-green on #161899

    These are all such helpful, supportive tips — thanks, everyone. And aren’t we lucky to play an instrument that almost universally captivates people no matter how it’s played!


    unknown-user on #161900

    I’ll add my two cents – treat it like when you have to make a business presentation at work, or have to talk to a customer. Think about what you know (the music), and focus on that. Practice exactly how you’ll play it, and keep in mind that unexpected changes may occur, so mix things up, too.

    one of two things will happen – 1) everyone will love it, and you’ll be proud of yourself or 2) everyone will love it, but you’ll be convinced it went badly. If you end up with #2, have a good laugh with yourself when they ask you to come back and play again some time, and remember to charge them this time!!!


    carl-swanson on #161901

    When I wrote that article for the Harp Column, I showed a copy to my own doctor. I had consulted with a doctor in the writing of that article, but it was another doctor, one married to a harpist friend of mine.

    My own doctor called me as soon as she had read the article and asked me if she could keep that copy of the magazine that I had given her. She also asked me if she could make copies of the article. She told me that she had many patients who had terrible problems with public speaking-herself included-and she wanted to be able to give them a copy of my article. She mentioned one patient, an architect, who regularly had to give presentations and who was paralyzed by nerves each time.

    The point here is, a lot of people have problems, severe problems, with performance anxiety. And when they do, it usually doesn’t get better with practice, but in fact usually gets worse. If that happens, medical intervention is really the only way out. Not everybody needs beta blockers. But for those who do, it’s good to know they are there.

    brenda-lee on #161902

    Thank you, everyone, for your input on the stage fright.

    Audrey Nickel on #161903

    Will do!

    Just remember that even pros suffer from stage nerves.

    brenda-lee on #161904

    Thank you, Audry.

    unknown-user on #161905

    I had a voice teacher who once told me that the more you practice being on-stage…like practicing anything else…the more comfortable you become.

    carl-swanson on #161906

    I don’t agree with that at all. If you have incapacitating anxiety, as some people do, then it’s only going to get worse as time goes on, because you are building on bad performances. In my article, A PRESCRIPTION FOR SUCCESS, I mention Vladimir Horowitz and Lawrence Olivier as to very famous, very talented performers who were so undone by nerves that they both retired from live performances for years. I just read that Derek Jacobi, the great English actor, did exactly the same thing after years of stage acting. In preparing that article I talked to many many people who gave up a career in performance because they could not control the nerves.

    Everybody gets nervous performing, and everybody thinks their case of nerves is really bad. But people get nervous to different degrees and with different symptoms. If you can get through a performance, no matter how nervous you feel, with minimal loss of control and lowering of performance quality, then trust me, you don’t get all that nervous. But if your performance really suffers quality-wise because of the nerves, or if people who really know you and your ability tell you that you sounded nervous, then you have a serious problem with nerves that no amount of performance experience is going to help.

    Audrey Nickel on #161907

    That may be the case, Carl, but it’s also the case that MOST stage nerves are not of that variety, and MOST people do learn to handle them without resorting to medication.

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