Can a bad gig…be good?
Go back in time for a moment, and think to yourself of a performance that…didn’t go quite so well.
Perhaps you lost the form.
Or played some notes that raised a few eyebrows and grimaces from the audience.
Inevitably, that little voice appears from inside your head.
“See? I was right – you’ll NEVER be good at this! Here you go again, screwing up on this tune yet another time…”
What happens next…
The feeling like you just want to run away from the bandstand.
I’ll be honest with you…
I’ve been in this situation many times myself.
In fact, it nearly crippled my career.
Upon getting advice about performance anxiety, the general consensus was: “Just keep doing it – you just need more experience! It will get easier…”
But it didn’t get easier.
In fact, every gig that passed by resulted in me getting more and more self-conscious, and I started to second-guess my abilities.
Here’s the thing:
I’m not the only one that this happens to.
A lot of people end their professional musical careers or leave music entirely because of the crippling effects of performance anxiety.
The worst part?
Performance nerves suck out the enjoyment and passion that drew you to music in the first place.
It doesn’t need to be this way.
After training in meditation and mindfulness, I realized something.
The way we view a situation tends to reflect itself back at us in what we experience.
The attitude and philosophy you have towards performing, and the results of performance, is critical to how you experience it, and the results you end up getting.
So, here’s my philosophy:
When it comes to performing, there are no failures – only feedback.
There are only two types of performances really:
Either your performance was 1) a great performance or 2) excellent feedback in order to prepare yourself for your next great performance.
Sometimes the gigs where you flake out are the ones where you learn the most. These experiences are actually the stepping stones you need in order for you to get better.
If you happen to have a bad gig at some point, sometime afterward (over a calming cup of coffee), pause and reflect.
Ask yourself questions like:
- Were there any triggers that made me nervous?
- Was there something that was distracting me?
- If I couldn’t remember the form or had a blank slate when it came to improvising, are there any aspects of my practice technique that needs improvement?
- How was my attitude on the day of the gig before getting on the bandstand?
Questions like this can be the genesis of you becoming a better player. And these questions can only arise when you’re faced with challenging gigs.
So in the end, it’s our attitude that can either turn towards negative performance experiences into failures, OR the seeds of successes.
So what’s the result of adopting this philosophy towards performing?
I don’t tend to get performance anxiety very much anymore, and if I do, I can manage it effectively without it negatively impacting my performance.
So, give it a try.
Next time you do a gig that doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped, sit back and reflect afterward – it may be the best guitar lesson you’ll ever have.
Over to you…
What are YOUR top tips for keeping your cool on the bandstand and recovering from mistakes?
I would love to hear from you, leave a comment below to share your thoughts…
Keep on jazzin’,
World Leader in Online Jazz Guitar Education