Anxiety and Stress about Playing Live

ZootELoops

Senior Member
Does anyone have anxiety about playing with other people or a fear of embarrassment in social groups? Do you know someone that does?

I have a friend who I am trying to encourage to play some open mic nights with me or perhaps starting a band - but he is very hesitant because he has severe social phobia around people he doesnt know. He is a very good guitar player, but seems to lock up around people and doesnt play as well. If I can get a shot or two in him, he loosens up a bit in smaller circles of friends, but I think because he has only been playing a few years that he is still uncomfortable and unsure of himself and that may be compounding to the problem.

He is a good friend and a great person. I thought maybe he should consult a psychiatrist or get some anti-anxiety meds, but I dont want to make him feel uncomfortable either if he's not ready.

Any advice I could give him?
 
i know what you mean i used to be very anxious when it came to playing in front of people i would just choke and couldnt play anything. but gladly i got over it. i found that having a friend with me that i knew would boost my confidence but i mean if hes really afraid to meet people then i would get prof. help i think the medical term is he might have Social Anxiety idk good luck tho :)
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
It's crazy how something so psychological manifests itself in physical ways. I mean he's really good when it's just the two of us in the basement jamming, but get him in front of people and it's like he's never played a day in his life. I can tell he gets very uncomfortable even when we just go out to the movies or a bar, so I don't know if there's really anything I can say or do to help. It's a shame.
 

Mr. Serpent

Member
Though I don't seem to be nearly on the same level as your friend, I can relate in some way.

See, I'm very strange, at times I can be the most out-going person, at others I can be incredibly introverted. I typically distrust people and don't enjoy being with/around groups of people I don't know personally.
Saying that, if I get to know someone a little I don't feel so uncomfortable (doesn't mean they've gained my trust though).

I wouldn't recomend getiing him to see someone about it or get medicine unless you really believe the seriousness of it warrants that. It doesn't sound like there's much wrong with him, he just has some trouble relaxing around people.

This analysis may well be completely wrong, but it's merely what I think on the subject. Encourage him, reassure him, a lot, if need be, get him to drink some alcohLOL before playing to loosen up (clearly not enough to affect his play though).
I would think if he gets a positive vibe from his first live gig then he'll feel far better about doing it in future, it's mainly that first time.

Merely my opinion.
 

Baddstuff

Senior Member
I think most people go thru something like that at the beginning of their playing days, I know I did. What eventually helped me is that once I had been playing for a while and felt comfortable behind the kit I had no problem playing in front of people I didn't know. I was at a point where I knew I was not going to embarrass myself on the kit and that made a world of difference to me. Of course I considered myself a rock drummer and played in rock bands, had I tried to jam with a pure jazz band then yeah, I would have been nervous. I knew that playing rock I was going to be fine.

I even started going to blues jams (open mike) a few years back and would end up onstage with people I never even met but it didn't faze me. I would recommend that to anyone. Blues is pretty straight forward and it's fun to jam to a cookin' shuffle. Plus jams like that force you as the drummer to keep your eyes and ears open because sometimes the tune may have stops and you have to look for cues from whoever is leading that jam. I've also said that creating on the spot is a great way to gain confidence and learn about yourself as a drummer. I'm self taught and didn't have any formal training to lean on. I really had to develop my ears and I think I did OK for myself. But yeah, playing in front of strangers or a crowd can be intimidating for some people.
 

Billy Brown

Senior Member
He is a very good guitar player, but seems to lock up around people and doesnt play as well.

He is a good friend and a great person. I thought maybe he should consult a psychiatrist or get some anti-anxiety meds, but I dont want to make him feel uncomfortable either if he's not ready.
I can tell he gets very uncomfortable even when we just go out to the movies or a bar, so I don't know if there's really anything I can say or do to help. It's a shame.
Performance anticipation makes most people perform better, even among a large portion of people who get abnormally nervous (like puking, migraines, or panic attacks -- that stuff is scary but if people can get through it they can perform well). Being so nervous you clam up is pretty dysfunctional. If he really wants to play live, I recommend you talk to him about counseling. As it is, every time he tries to play in front of others and clams up (In his mind,"I've failed!!"), those anxiety pathways strengthen and he's further from improvement.

It sounds like this is more than a playing music in front of people issue. The main question for him is whether his anxiety is affecting his quality of life. That's the justification for therapy. You have a "disorder" if you want to improve some aspect of your life by working with very knowledgeable people and effective treatments.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
I think also it's something you can naturally grow out of. The older one gets, sometimes, the easier it is to do things in public or in front of people. It's called Life experiences, but for some it doesn't come easy or never comes at all. What your friend has, I had the same thing. I'd clam up in front of people I didn't know well, couldn't play worth a flip, and basically was worried sick about making myself look like a fool. I couldn't even talk to someone because I'd feel indimidated by them - either they were older than I, or they had more education, or had a much better job, etc. I basically doomed myself. I should have gone into therapy, but the way I was raised, that was a no no. People who went into counseling were crazy, or mentally ill. BS! A bit of therapy can go a long way. If I had done it much sooner, I would have felt a lot better.

Now I'm 47 and don't really give a shit about what other people think of me and I can walk into a room and feel at ease, or play in front of a large crowd and not feel uneasy or nervous. I just go out and do the best I can. If I feel I've done my best, I'm ok. If I feel for some reason I didn't do my best, then I get mad at myself, but I don't clam up or feel uneasy or nervous around others.

But definately get your friend some help because it will improve his life and outlook on life. No sense at all going around feeling inadequate or useless or "not good enough".
 

AlexMorris

Junior Member
It's kinda a different story for me cus I actually suffer from Anxiety in everyday life but i can sit behind my kit infront of tons of people (i already have) and i wont be stressed at all. I sort of just zone out and my limbs just move automatically and i dont think or pay attention to the crowd. It's weird but hey : ) (I'm actually taking pills for my everyday anxiety problems, dunno if any lighter medication could help anyone. Your'll probably just grow out of it with experience.

ZootELoops: it all depends on if your friend is only anxious when playing guitar or all the time. If all the time then help (medication and therepy, like rogue drummer says getting help can later aid him in life) might be necessary. otherwise if its only when hes playing guitar its not a big problem. Reassuring him can help and before a gig: cold water :D . Helps me anyways.
 
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