Controlling Your Nerves Part 2

I have written earlier on the subject of nervousness while performing and most of my material dealt with the preparation for your performance. My suggestions were directed at learning your material to the point of perfection and once this has been achieved, most nervous anxieties will be lessened. There are occasions when even the most dedicated preparation is not enough and for that condition I have written Part 2 on the nervous conditions for musicians.
Before I approach a controversial subject such as this, I would like to say that for the majority of musicians reading this post, my suggestions in Part 1 should first be used. For the few performers who have followed my suggestions and still are faced with the fears of performing in public, the following might be helpful.
As long as I can remember, I have always been faced with nervous conditions before, during and after a performance on my trumpet. My start as a trumpet soloist began earlier than most for my trumpet career began in fifth or sixth grade as the cornet soloist for the Moline Boys Choir in Moline, Illinois. In addition to vocal performances, the director made it a practice to feature instrument performing members also. I was featured on two trumpet pieces- Let the Bright Seraphim and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Each number had its own pearls but the high C at the end of the Battle Hymn was the most nerve wracking at that time in my life. I approached that piece with the same anticipation as when I entered the dentist’s office for my monthly drilling. Although I learned to cope with my nervousness, there were times when I could have benefited from some added assistance. The added assistance most common to musicians today is a product called Beta Blocker.
Better Playing Through Chemistry

Published: October 17, 2004

I strongly recommend that you read this article in it’s entirety for it addresses many issues which will benefit you if you are interested in pursuing this possible avenue for the control of your stage anxieties. I have read this information and believe that the best way to become more comfortable with your performances is to follow my instructions in my first post. If you are still faced with stage fright and are requiring additional assistance, read this article carefully.
Because of the fact that I chose to post an article dealing with the use of Beta Blockers, I decided to test their results on my own playing. This past Sunday, my trumpet group, the Branson Trumpet Ensemble performed two services at a local church. During each service, I performed a solo and because of this laboratory situation, I decided to play the first service without the use of a Beta Blocker and the second service after taking the medication. I explained my experiment to the other trumpet players and at the end of our morning, no one could tell any difference. The only difference I recognized was a slight headache shortly after taking the pill. I did not feel any more relaxed with the pill as I had felt without the blocker. The amount of concern before playing was enough to keep me sharp and focused for a good performance and any additional relaxation might have diminished the concentration on my playing. Even though this was only one attempt at testing the effects of a Beta Blocker, it was enough for me to decide that careful preparation of my music was a far better way to lower my stage anxieties than through the use of chemicals.
Disclaimer: I am in no way endorsing the purchase, use or promotion of any artificial chemical to enhance musical performances. For those interested in learning more about the use, affects and dangers of the use of Beta Blockers, I offer the above information.
In closing, I would like to share the last statement made in this article- “Performance anxiety tends to push musicians to rehearse more and to confront their anxieties about their work; beta blockers mask these musical and emotional obstacles.”