Performance psychology

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Found a great article about this, which some of us might find helpful:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/jul/26/sports-psychology-choking

Some quotes:
.....The sequence of events typically goes like this: when people get nervous about performing, they become self-conscious. They start to fixate on themselves, trying to make sure that they don't make any mistakes. This can be lethal for a performer. The bowler concentrates too much on his action and loses control of the ball. The footballer misses the penalty by a mile. In each instance, the natural fluidity of performance is lost; the grace of talent disappears.

.....This is what happens when people "choke". The part of their brain that monitors their behaviour starts to interfere with actions that are normally made without thinking. Performers begin second guessing skills that they have honed through years of practice.

......The second interesting result was that there was a way to ward off choking. When the expert golfers contemplated a holistic cue word [like "smooth" or "balanced"], their performance was no longer affected by anxiety. Because the positive adjectives were vague and generic, they didn't cause the athletes to lose the flow of expert performance or overrule their automatic brain.​
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
It's funny, I'm definitely a 'choker' when it comes to playing. The minute I start thinking about what I'm playing and trying to focus is when I make a mistake.

The best way I found to get over it was to make a complete pig's ear of a performance. When I was a new drummer (about ten years ago) I played in a school assembly and it was an absolute bloodbath, sticks flying everywhere, beats missed - etc. I came out of it shaking and feeling like an absolute fool.

Since then, I've played to more people (there were about 300 there that time) and never been nervous. I've had bad days since then too (the last concert I played at University didn't go to well - not my fault, I add) but other than a ten minute feeling of irritation or anger, it goes away.

Nowadays I just play and don't bother thinking. Playing is natural and easy enough to not worry and I start focussing on the 'musical' moments - e.g. dynamics and tone rather than just the mechanics. Working on my mechanics is actually quite difficult because I don't think about them enough.

As for the 'cue words', that's a good tip. I've got some huge gigs coming up (not the crowd, industry people coming to watch) so that might be a time to bring out the generic holistic cue-words!
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
I like the "cue word" idea. I think it really helps to think of things like flow or some word that carries you along rather than give you a fixation point.

I've been playing so many shuffles lately that simple 4 on the floors were starting to suffer. What helped was envisioning the entire bar as a circle. And then I started moving my ride hand in a circle to help with the visualization.

Then I remembered watching Toss Panos, and how he moves around. I don't know if he's consciously does this, or is after a similar visualization, but he certainly grooves while he's waving his arms in circles.

http://youtu.be/61jK5BjYBz4
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I heard this from a drummer at a clinic. If you get stage fright it only shows that you are thinking only of yourself and your own performance.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I don't know, but once a person can get over the hump, there really is a freedom in playing and just immersing yourself in the music and the rhythmic energy that drives it. That's when improvements in playing ability really accelerate.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
So long as I have reasonable confidence in my bandmates, I've never had an issue. Quite the reverse actually. I can't wait to get on that stage after sound check, & once I'm there, I don't want to leave!

I experienced some fairly big gigs at a young age, & those didn't phase me, in fact, the bigger the better. Put it down to youthful blase, or the de-personalising tendency of a big crowd, not so sure. I then spent years giving frequent large scale presentations. No nerves there either.

Against this background however - drum clinic? No way, I'd rather slam my gentleman's vegetables repeatedly in a revolving door than step into that arena. When I step on stage, I'm in entertainment mode. My only concern is how the band sounds & how it's received. I don't really give a crap about my personal performance, so long as I'm enjoying it, & the audience are responding. There's no way I could take the micro examination of a clinic. The audience is there to pick holes in the performance or to be "impressed". That's not a gig for me, even if I did have the ability.

I was speaking to a well known player I know quite well a few months ago. Straight after the clinic, he said, "once you accept that half the audience are better than you, & the half that aren't - think they are, you're good to go". Got to be a message in there somewhere ;)
 

NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
I heard this from a drummer at a clinic. If you get stage fright it only shows that you are thinking only of yourself and your own performance.
that i like - and can relate to. i never get SF or anxiety anymore. to me live drumming is like the sea. i can't wiat to just get in a surf.

i no longer think of the audience as judging my performance but more like going along with it. at age 37 you also have a bedrock of confidence when it comes to other people and what you percieve they may or may not think of you.

i've always had a super hero mentality to drumming. my alterego is the guy typing this message - they guy about to go to work and be a normal citizen. but ... put me behind a kit and a crowd and i turn into another person. i found a long time ago that that helps. the idea that in drumming mode you can leave all your preconceptions of what you are behind and invent a new you - it is and has been quite liberating.
j
 

MLdrum

Senior Member
Nice and interesting article. I'll have to try the holistic cue word approach next time I play some classical percussion in front of an audience. Strangely, I get way more nervous when I play classical as opposed to drum kit stuff..
 

WHiZZi

Junior Member
I heard this from a drummer at a clinic. If you get stage fright it only shows that you are thinking only of yourself and your own performance.
I like this.. it's true.

Last time I got nervous was with rock 'n roll legend Sleepy La Beef. We litteraly heard 2 weeks in advance we had to play as his band at a show. On the day itself we rehearsed for the first time. He entered the stage, asked our guitar player to tune his guitar. His second question was to each of us "Do you know how to rock 'n roll?", so when we all confirmed that he just started to count and play. Not even a clue what he was doing or going to do, we just had to follow him.

He also managed to make a set-list after the rehearsal and at the actual show (later that evening) not using that set list. So, again, we didn't have a clue what the guy was doing.

But, like all times I just go with the flow and try to keep up with a steady base.

I think that's the key. Unless you are playing a solo as a drummer, you have to sound good as a band. As a drummer you have one task which is to make sure the rest of the musicians keep the tempo and know where they are in a song. Enjoy the audience (if any :p ) , enjoy the moment and enjoy the ability to perform as a group :)
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
No doubt if I begin to think too much, I get in my own way. Took me a long time to get to a point to trust myself.

Once I let go of any and all thoughts related to the aspects of drumming and only focus on the music, I can play comfortably.

I try to keep the "thinking" for the practice room.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
It's never a problem for me playing live, unless I really have no idea about the structure or parts of a song that gets called out of nowhere...

My problem is the record button. Hit the big red button for me to track some drums, and I do exactly what the clip above describes... I start over thinking everything. I worry so much about a mistake I perceived 2 sections back that I screw up the section I'm currently playing. Very hard for me to relax when I know what I'm playing is potentially permanent.
 
P

permutation

Guest
I heard this from a drummer at a clinic. If you get stage fright it only shows that you are thinking only of yourself and your own performance.
Stage fright might also be due to other factors such as, getting use to the sound of the band in a new venue, poor monitor mix or lack of monitors, not having a tune or set list down, drums not set up just right, audience yelling out drunk rude remarks between songs..... I know for me that causes some anxiety.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
This also goes way beyond stage fright. We might tighten up when trying to play challenging patterns.

Our playing standard fluctuates day to day and also, as with sportspeople, we go through periods when we are in form or out of form. At different times we are more in the zone than others. Theoretically, we should be able to increase the percentage of time we spend in the zone - it can be something to practice in itself rather than entirely leaving it in the lap of the gods.
 

drstrangefunk

Senior Member
It's never a problem for me playing live, unless I really have no idea about the structure or parts of a song that gets called out of nowhere...

My problem is the record button. Hit the big red button for me to track some drums, and I do exactly what the clip above describes... I start over thinking everything. I worry so much about a mistake I perceived 2 sections back that I screw up the section I'm currently playing. Very hard for me to relax when I know what I'm playing is potentially permanent.
stage fright / red light fever is not just a personal problem. it's infectious.

have you ever walked into a room where the tension is so thick you can cut it with a knife ?

it was like that before you got there.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
It's never a problem for me playing live, unless I really have no idea about the structure or parts of a song that gets called out of nowhere...

My problem is the record button. Hit the big red button for me to track some drums, and I do exactly what the clip above describes... I start over thinking everything. I worry so much about a mistake I perceived 2 sections back that I screw up the section I'm currently playing. Very hard for me to relax when I know what I'm playing is potentially permanent.
Same here. Live, it's like every moment is a chance to get it back. So I can just listen to the others and let myself go.

With the red light it's like "get it right, get it right, don't screw up, don't screw up, now groove dammit!". And when I listen back to it, it's tight and wobbles all over the place.

In this area, people are forever taking phone videos and posting them on YouTube, so when I hear myself there I think "why can't I play like that when I'm at home?". Even when I see them with the phones and camera and know it's being taped, it doesn't throw me. Just when I'm trying to make a serious recording at home.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
This also goes way beyond stage fright. We might tighten up when trying to play challenging patterns.

Our playing standard fluctuates day to day and also, as with sportspeople, we go through periods when we are in form or out of form. At different times we are more in the zone than others. Theoretically, we should be able to increase the percentage of time we spend in the zone - it can be something to practice in itself rather than entirely leaving it in the lap of the gods.
So very, very true. I've gone through weeks if not months where I've been out of form according to my own feelings. I've always managed to slug through it but no one knows is first, and no one knows it more than me that I'm in an out of form mode.
 

denisri

Silver Member
Good article! I also find if I leave lots of time for a causal equipment set up(vs a 10 minute set and playing). I have a much more relaxed attitude. Denis
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Same here. Live, it's like every moment is a chance to get it back. So I can just listen to the others and let myself go.

With the red light it's like "get it right, get it right, don't screw up, don't screw up, now groove dammit!". And when I listen back to it, it's tight and wobbles all over the place.
I love this. It captures the experience perfectly.
 

djmemjy

Member
This thread could not be more pertinent to the day I just had...

Our band trialled a new bassist. Before he came along, the other guys mentioned how much this guy had played, who he had played with and how good he was.

As soon as they talked him up, I started to overthink my playing and wondered if it was up to scratch. I was so worried about gelling with this guy and creating a good groove.

We recorded everything and I have listened back to it since. My playing has not felt so disjointed and lacking fluidity in a long time. I was even trying to use this thread as an example and concentrate on the word 'flow' to focus less on myself and more on what was happening around me. All to no avail.

Back to the practice room I go.
 
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