Performance jitters

A musician across the proverbial pond recently sent me a message about performance. The questions she raised were perfect fodder for a dialogue, and

I was honored by her words and her willingness to be vulnerable and reach out.

For me, becoming comfortable with performance has been a long, bumpy ride, and even today there are potholes and uneven surfaces. How I am feeling about myself can be transferred into the energy and confidence I bring to the stage—be it sidewalk, webcam, or theater.

Her questions also stirred memories from my lifelong relationship with music and performance, which I will be reflecting on in a series of posts.

Here are her questions:

I’d like to ask you, how you go about remembering your lyrics? The reason is I know my songs inside and out, but when placed in front of an audience of any size, my brain goes ‘whoa there’ and suddenly I can’t remember.

So how do you do it? Do you have any special techniques to remember your lyrics when you are busking and performing at an open mic?

I invite you to share your own experiences with performance—the good, bad, and the ugly! What methods have you devised for overcoming stage fright, the mind blank, extreme blushing, etc.

And here’s my two cents for this post on performance:

The dark and the light are a part of each of us, and we learn by putting ourselves out there time and again. I have been encouraged to stand tall and be confident, but somehow that inner critic almost always sneaks in a word or two or three.

One of my demons is my tendency to share disclaimers in self-deprecating utterances before and after each song that I perform. I am also terrible at accepting compliments.

Be confident! Speak with assurance without sounding arrogant. Be humble, but be bold.

AND if someone gives you a compliment, try to say “Thank you!” If you roll your eyes or say “really?” over and again, they may think you are questioning their judgment and taste in music.

More to come soon…

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