Accidental Fudge

Updates Thursdays

Tag: stage fright

Performance Anxiety

Monday night, I had a gig.

It was not my first gig. It wasn’t even my first gig at this particular venue. But I was really, really nervous.

Now, I have stage fright. It’s a thing, but I expect it, and I know it’ll usually be gone by about ten minutes after I get off the stage. Usually it doesn’t hit me all that hard or for all that long.

But Monday night was different. Maybe it was because I’ve been so damn anxious about everything else lately. Maybe it was because I was playing a set comprised entirely of brand new songs. I don’t know. But I was barely able to eat dinner, and I felt sick to my stomach, and I really had no idea how I was going to make it through all seven songs in my set.

Still, I got up on stage, and I did it. I got through everything. I rushed through almost all of it, but since no one else in the room had ever heard the songs before, no one was really the wiser. The last song in the set, I had to start over after a few measures when I realized I had started singing it up to high, but by that point I was determined to just get it done, so I didn’t let it bother me too much.

I stayed nervous through at least half of the next musician’s 25 minute set. I’m not sure if the anxiety faded on its own, or if it was aided by the Jack and Coke I was drinking, but thankfully, I was able to enjoy the rest of the evening’s performances.

People occasionally tell me they could never get up on stage and perform something they’d written. Now, I’m not a seasoned performer by any means, but I’ve played a fair number of class showcases and a handful of small gigs, which is apparently enough to impress people. The truth is, though, every time I’m going to get on stage, I wonder what the fuck I think I’m doing. I don’t do it because I really enjoy it. I write because I enjoy it, and I enjoy whatever positive feedback I might get after a set, but the actual process of performing is not a thing I find particularly fun. I do it because it makes me uncomfortable. I do it because writing songs just for myself sometimes feels unsatisfying, and while I’m terrified to put my soul out on display by performing what I’ve written, I like knowing I’m not creating in a vacuum.

So if you’re a creative person who’s been wondering if they should share their creativity with the world: the decision is ultimately up to you, but I recommend trying it at least once. It might not be a thing you enjoy doing, but you might find that you and I have something in common, that doing a thing that scares you precisely because it scares you can teach you a lot about yourself and the people you surround yourself with.

But enough of me rambling. How about some weird music? For the curious, if you follow the links to the SoundCloud pages for each song, I’ve posted the lyrics in the descriptions. Here’s the playlist of the whole set, which for whatever reason SoundCloud has ordered backwards:

Stage Fright

Between classes at the Old Town School of Folk Music and chasing our favorite musician friends around the Midwest, over the past couple of years, music has been an increasingly important part of my life.

Music has always been one of my favorite ways to center and ground myself. I played the piano as a kid, and when I was home alone I would pour my soul out into the keys. I got out of the habit (and I no longer play the piano as well as I used to), but I’m trying to pick up a guitar or mandolin more often than I have been, because there’s something unspeakably soothing about music.

I’m writing this Wednesday morning, feeling a bit nervous about starting a new songwriting class Wednesday evening, taught by a teacher I’ve never met (but who I’ve only heard good things about). I know the crowd in Steve Dawson‘s classes well enough that it’s rather less terrifying to step into them than it is to face a room full of unknown entities.

Even more than that, though, I’m getting increasingly nervous about next Monday.

Next Monday, I am getting up on a stage by myself and playing a full 25-minute set of original songs.

Up to this point, I have never played more than two songs at a stretch on stage, and that’s been limited exclusively to songwriting class recitals and open mics. This is seven songs, a whole new experience, and while I’m definitely exited, I’m also…well…pretty terrified.

I know that chances are once I get up there and start playing, I’ll be fine. And even if I’m not fine, I doubt anyone in attendance will be throwing produce at me. If I fumble my way through all seven songs, then at least I’ll have made it through all seven.

Getting up in front of people and singing and playing words and music that I wrote is not an easy thing for my introverted, socially anxious self. But it’s something I’ve wanted to try for a long time, and this particular sort of anxiety is one that I find I need to face and force myself through once in a while, or it becomes paralyzing. So, we’ll see how it goes.

© 2017 Accidental Fudge

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑