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Thread: First time playing for an audience - help!

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    Default First time playing for an audience - help!

    Ok so my band has been together for about 5 months now and we practice weekly. We have written 6 original songs and have a couple covers down pat. Our practice session recordings sound pretty good to me, pretty tight, very few mistakes. I always have a great time at practice, and our band gets on pretty well together (two guitars, bass and me on drums). At our last practice we decided to invite a few friends to listen. The guys were pretty excited but I was terrified. I pretty much fell apart, I was playing fast and all over the place. I think I made us sound terrible. The band tried to reassure me that everything was cool but I just was not feeling the pocket at all and I think it threw everyone off. Our friends response was luke warm at best which rattled my confidence even more. After they left we jammed some more and I calmed down and we were right back in the pocket. I don't know what to do because the guys really want to try for some live gigs but I am terrified that I am going to fall apart again. I never realized how much the drummer really is the bands "glue" and I am having a hard time "keeping it together" Any advice for a greenhorn performer? Stories and advice are welcome!
    Last edited by codym444; 06-05-2012 at 12:34 AM.
    Cody

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by codym444 View Post
    Ok so my band has been together for about 5 months now and we practice weekly. We have written 6 original songs and have a couple covers down pat. Our practice session recordings sound pretty good to me, pretty tight, very few mistakes. I always have a great time at practice, and our band gets on pretty well together (two guitars, bass and me on drums). At our last practice we decided to invite a few friends to listen. The guys were pretty excited but I was terrified. I pretty much fell apart, I was playing fast and all over the place. I think I made us sound terrible. The band tried to reassure me that everything was cool but I just was not feeling the pocket at all and I think it threw everyone off. Our friends response was luke warm at best which rattled my confidence even more. After they left we jammed some more and I calmed down and we were right back in the pocket. I don't know what to do because the guys really want to try for some live gigs but I am terrified that I am going to fall apart again. I never realized how much the drummer really is the bands "glue" and I am having a hard time "keeping it together" Any advice for a greenhorn performer? Stories and advice are welcome!


    This goes with the confidence post.

    There are no easy fixes for these kinds of things. I met a guitar player years ago who was one of the best guitarists I've ever seen. He never played in a band because he had terminal stage fright.

    I also worked with a guy who was a wreck before every show, but once we started, he was fine.

    I think almost everybody has a certain amount of nervousness at the start. Most get over it, some find another line of work.

    I wish I could give some magic words to help you, but, there aren't any.

  3. #3

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    You just gotta get back on the throne and play on. Which is way easier said than done. And calm down. Don't do no drugs to calm down. If you have no confidence, there is a time honored and trusted solution to this problem. FAKE IT!!!!!! Remember, YOU PUT IN THE TIME!!! YOU PUT IN THE EFFORT!!!!! YOU HAVE HAULED YOUR CRAP TO AND FROM!!!! That's your stage. YOU HAVE EARNED IT!!!!!.
    You probably won't see the the audience anyway when on stage. So you can just pretend they are not there :D
    For the record, when we'd go on stage, first song was usually a little shaky.
    Also try inviting more people to your practices. Get used to the audience.
    Last edited by Kazaamski; 06-05-2012 at 01:07 AM.
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    No magic answer for you here. Just got to keep doing it. This is an area where nothing replaces experience. If you keep playing before a live audience and it doesn't get fixed, then you have a big problem if your goal is to play out.

  5. #5

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    I agree, there is no "fix"or "cure-all"

    Become one with the bass player like normal and dont pay attention to the audience no matter if there are 2 people or 200. Just relax and have fun because thats really what youre there for......everything else will fall in to place, you will be spot on and the crowd will enjoy the music.
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  6. #6

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    This is normal.

    It is easy to get distracted but you need to have your head in the game every second..........you are the piston that drives this engine.

    Chill down.

    Invite more friends to rehearsals until you get a level of comfort.

    You and your mates choose a fairly simple but catchy first song so that everyone will gain confidence from the start.............all four of you need to know that song very well..........every guy needs to know everybody else's part............no excuses.

    It will usually take at least 40 tunes to make a typical gig.

    In the studio, the pressure gets worse; the drummer is always the first guy that has to get it exactly correct..........once that foundation is set, the rest of the band can stack their tracks.

    Drummers are unique; you have to be the man they all rely upon.........when they screw up and stop, YOU DON'T..............EVER !
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  7. #7

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    One more bit of advice: warm up before you begin to play to get your focus and burn off extra, nervous energy with simple rudiments. Maybe even rehearse the opening song in the warm up routine.
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  8. #8

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    I'm with Rick. There is no easy cure for stage fright. I never had much trouble in that department, because I'm a bit of a show-off by nature. From early on, I was good at public speaking etc...
    Believe it or not, humour can be used in music as well. I used to laugh off mistakes while playing, the same way Johnny Carson would blow off a bombed joke. I look at it this way...You are only playing music, not performing brain surgery where one wrong stroke of the scapel and someone is dead!

    all the best...

  9. #9

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    I got pretty lucky with my first gig (and only so far), at my technical school's talent show.

    I was semi-nervous for the few hours leading up to it, then I was flipping out nervous right before hitting the stage, but the second I started the song my mind went completely into the song; I actually only remember a couple seconds of actually playing.

    Instead of the typical advice of practicing infront of people more often, I have a weird suggestion of going to your gig a bit tired, not exhausted, but mellow. It will negate the initial freak-out of emotions you get right before you start playing. Another tip that worked for me is wearing sunglasses, they make you look cooler and raise your confidence level. haha

  10. #10

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    Cody, think of it this way: the bad has already happened. Now, it's going to get better from here. You'll start getting used to playing in front of people, and you just played in front of friends, so having a bad day was no big deal, because they're still friends. Don't dwell on it too much. It might be possible that in a practice environment, the friends were pretty close to the band, where in a live performance, you'll have a little more separation from the audience. Remember, too, everyone has a bad day - everyone. The next time the friends hear you play, you'll blow 'em away.

    Remember, too, that you're growing as a drummer. This is just part of the deal, so put aside any thoughts that you can't overcome this, and plant the thought that it will get better with some time and experience.
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  11. #11

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    I will be playing my first gig in over 30 years in 10 days, and I'm not sure what to expect as far as nerves. With my last band we played so much that it got to be second nature to me and I was never nervous after the first few gigs. My advice is to practice as much as possible before the gig so you're confident in your preparation, then the when the gig comes, relax and don't sweat any mistakes you may make. Concentrate on keeping the band in time. Believe me no one is going to notice any mistakes you make (short of stopping the song altogether, of course). It will get better after the first gig.


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  12. #12

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    Just do it. They can't shoot you, cook you, or eat you. So don't sweat the small *$&#.

    My very first gig, I was taking a drum solo and hit the sticks together and one went flying out on the dance floor. I grabbed another stick, went back to the solo, and, after that, I never dropped another stick (on stage) or was nervous again.

    You WILL survive this.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by rickthedrummer View Post
    Just do it. They can't shoot you, cook you, or eat you. So don't sweat the small *$&#.
    hehehe....I love it! excellent advice
    Take care and seeya!

    Jim

  14. #14

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    dude, just think of it this way ,,, chances are that YOU are the best drummer in the room . if your not the best drummer in the room , then you are the best drummer on the stage . half the people in the room cant tell if your speeding up or slowing down . dont sweat it , you'll get better at it , but you have to do it to get better at it , its just like learning how to ride a bike , you can get on the bike and start peddling, ya might fall off a few times , but you will learn how to do it . or you could sit there and worry about it , and never get better. your choice .. good luck
    Tamaholic

  15. #15

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    There's a lot of sound advice being given here.
    My band had it's first gig yesterday. We played at a Jubilee Festival. Sure I made some mistakes, but so did the other band members, as did the other bands.
    Did the audience care? Not a bit. They were too busy having a good time. Many people came up to us afterwards to tell us how much they enjoyed it, so all was good in the end.
    I'll probably make mistakes at the next gig too, but hey, that's live music for you.
    I've seen good bands make mistakes. Hell, even Coldplay stopped mid-song & started again when headlining at Glastonbury a couple of years ago.
    It happens. Don't worry.
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    Xanax !!!
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  17. #17

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    We (or should I keep this in the "I")have a tendency to be my own worst critic. I notice EVERYTHING that happens with my playing. Most of the time people, weather they are musicians or not, won't notice a thing unless there is a blatant mistake (stopping, completely off time, etc..). I used to get nervous years back when I first started but soon after the first song or two and after about 3 or 4 months the nervous energy turned into excitement and an adrenaline rush. I just kept going and now, 31 years later, playing in front of people is second nature. Just keep at it. There is no one piece of advise or words that can fix how you feel or think. You like playing? Then just keep playing. Here's the other thing. Your band didn't ask you to step out or let you go did they? So, keep going.
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  18. #18

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    I still play differently around people I'm not comfortable with.

    It's a personal struggle of mine.

    When I have those show jitters I just really double down and focus in on what I need to be doing and pay very special mind to tempo or the groove.

    The adrenaline of playing for people tends to make me speed up if I'm not careful. Everyone has a different way of dealing with the jitters. Some focus down, some drink (I don't condone this, in my experience drinking makes for very sloppy playing), and others thrive on it and play better. The goal is to be as comfortable playing for people as possible.

    If you want to work on it before an official show, try inviting different people to come listen to your practices every time. If it's something you struggle with, your bandmates shouldn't mind the listeners if it's going to help you at a show. When you're writing, that's a whole different story, but when you're polishing up for live playing, it can't hurt.

    The only two constants I have are DW and Zildjian.

  19. #19

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    i hate it when people come to practices. I'm fine with it at clubs. Just remember you're not up there alone. How many people in your band? The one I'm in now is just a three piece and nobody stands in front of me. But when the show is going good I like to see people watching me.
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  20. #20

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    I'm only 18. However, I've been playing shows for a while now. My first one, i was SO nervous, but I just said "hey... to hell with it. I'm here to have fun, if i do horrible.. who cares, i did what i came to do." The show went decently well, but keep in mind FIRST BAND SHOWS ARE NEVER VERY GOOD!!!! My band is now becoming VERY popular locally, and it's only been a year!

    I know it sounds very conceited, but heres what you have to do... Be ****y. Tell yourself your good! Whether you are, or you arent. If you have reached your own personal standards that you set for your first show, then youre a monster behind that kit. Like me, I KNOW I'M FREAKIN AWESOME!!!! Doesn't mean I'm better than everyone else, but I know im good! That's all you need!

    Besides, its originals. NOBODY KNOWS IF YOU MESS UP

    Feel it man, it's easy. Eventually it goes away. However, note that you still get some sort of pre-show jitters every show. I still do, but really not bad. CAUSE I KNOW WE ROCK!!! :P

    HAVE FUN MAN, dont let anything get you down.
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  21. #21

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    Also, another thing I remembered (because of reading previous posts), If you're like me and you're NOT just a pocket drummer (which is not bad at all) And you like to do a lot of technical licks and fills. Try to slow it down for atleast the first show. Just keep it "in the pocket", where you just play a long and keep the tempo steady. Nothing sounds worse than an off time band. Trust me man, I'm 110% sure you can do it. Stay calm, and work with your band to melt faces
    Specs

    Drums: Gretsch Catalina Maple (Dark Cherry Burst) 8,10,12,14,16 toms 14 snare 22 bass
    Heads: Remo Pinstripes over Ambassadors on toms
    Bass: Stock Grestch stock reso and Evans EC2 batter
    Snare: Ambassador over Ambassador reso, PureSound Snares
    Cymbals: Zildjian A MasterSound HiHats 14"
    Sabian Xs20 Crashes 16"/18"
    Zildjian 20th Anniversary A Custom ride 21"
    Wuhan Splashes 8"/10"
    Wuhan China 16"


    http://www.facebook.com/AWorkInProgressBand

    ^^^Like my band!!^^^

  22. #22

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    ^IMHO, that is dangerous advise. Not saying you don't need confidence in yourself, but, telling yourself you're good "whether you are or aren't" will only lead to disaster. I've seen plenty of musicians and bands that think this way. Leads to a crash landing and jobs dry up quickly and reputations (which are very hard to repair) are tarnished. I love guys that boast about how good they are or how good their band is and then they post a vid or sound clip and you're thinking to yourself WTF was THAT! Not saying this is you Fraz, but, this is not good advise. Just sayin'. Being dillusionsal or in denial about your own capabilities is not the way to go. Hard work, getting better and experience with playing out is the only answer to this mess. The rest of it is BS, IMHO.

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frazzetto View Post
    I'm only 18. However, I've been playing shows for a while now. My first one, i was SO nervous, but I just said "hey... to hell with it. I'm here to have fun, if i do horrible.. who cares, i did what i came to do." The show went decently well, but keep in mind FIRST BAND SHOWS ARE NEVER VERY GOOD!!!! My band is now becoming VERY popular locally, and it's only been a year!

    I know it sounds very conceited, but heres what you have to do... Be ****y. Tell yourself your good! Whether you are, or you arent. If you have reached your own personal standards that you set for your first show, then youre a monster behind that kit. Like me, I KNOW I'M FREAKIN AWESOME!!!! Doesn't mean I'm better than everyone else, but I know im good! That's all you need!

    Besides, its originals. NOBODY KNOWS IF YOU MESS UP

    Feel it man, it's easy. Eventually it goes away. However, note that you still get some sort of pre-show jitters every show. I still do, but really not bad. CAUSE I KNOW WE ROCK!!! :P

    HAVE FUN MAN, dont let anything get you down.
    Quote Originally Posted by Frazzetto View Post
    Also, another thing I remembered (because of reading previous posts), If you're like me and you're NOT just a pocket drummer (which is not bad at all) And you like to do a lot of technical licks and fills. Try to slow it down for atleast the first show. Just keep it "in the pocket", where you just play a long and keep the tempo steady. Nothing sounds worse than an off time band. Trust me man, I'm 110% sure you can do it. Stay calm, and work with your band to melt faces
    Quote Originally Posted by inthpktplayer View Post
    ^IMHO, that is dangerous advise. Not saying you don't need confidence in yourself, but, telling yourself you're good "whether you are or aren't" will only lead to disaster. I've seen plenty of musicians and bands that think this way. Leads to a crash landing and jobs dry up quickly and reputations (which are very hard to repair) are tarnished. I love guys that boast about how good they are or how good their band is and then they post a vid or sound clip and you're thinking to yourself WTF was THAT! Not saying this is you Fraz, but, this is not good advise. Just sayin'. Being dillusionsal or in denial about your own capabilities is not the way to go. Hard work, getting better and experience with playing out is the only answer to this mess. The rest of it is BS, IMHO.
    +1. There is a fine line between having ****y and arrogant confidence and having a humble and healthy confidence. Those attitudes and that pride can mean the difference between taking constructive criticism and being open to suggestions to improve or not.
    TAMA- '99 Starclassic, '86 Granstar, '88 Granstar,
    '93 Rockstar
    Gretsch- late 50's Round Badge
    Zildjian K & K Custom (with a couple A's and a Wuhan China)
    Evans
    Remo
    Vic Firth
    Speed Cobra double pedal
    Starcast mounting system (including floor toms and snare)
    Hardware- TAMA and Gibraltar
    Snare Drums- various TAMA, Gretsch, Ludwig, Leedy, Wurlitzer

    "How can you impress the chicks if the chicks can do it themselves?!!" ~ from: kay-gee

  24. #24

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    I played a gig a couple of weeks ago and our new bass player had stage fright. He had forgotten at least four of the songs into the first set and I knew exactly what was happening to him. He was nervous and lacked confidence. He confessed later that he thought there was a giant beacon of light shinning down upon him that said "noob" until I threw a drum stick at him on stage and nailed him in the back during a number.

    That flying stick scared heck out of the guy but it woke him up and we laughed outloud on stage after the drum stick hit him. He looked back at me and "winked" and he was fine the rest of the day.

    Even if you're a nervous wreck, force a smile on your face and glare at another member until he or she notices you smiling, then before you know it, everybody's smiling and looking like they're having fun. Works like a charm.

    Remember one important thing, the drummer will always be the easiest to watch on stage from the audience's perspective. Look around the crowd as you play and make 'eye contact' and smile. Smiling with automatically ease your dynamics because you're showing that you're having fun and the smile on your face will transend down to your hands and feet as you play.

  25. #25

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    Thanks for all the great advice guys. We had another practice session today and some more people came to watch. I employed some of the advice from this board and it really made a difference, I was still very nervous at first but I tried plastering a smile on my face and eventually I felt much more confident. Then we nailed a few of the songs we worked up. It was fun. Now we are playing at a talent show which will be my very first time playing in front of a bunch of strangers, hopefully i can just remember how i felt during my most recent practice and use it to boost my confidence.
    Cody

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