September 15, 2007 at 6:54 AMI'm coming down with a nasty cold, and just made a run to the store to stock up on various remedies.
But dealing with a cold before a concert or recital is one thing, dealing with a nasty case of the nerves is another. Which brings us to this week's poll:
If you answered 'yes', please tell us what and why. And if you answered 'no,' tell us why not.
Also, there are times for us gals that a nice strong dose of ibuprofen comes in handy.
I never have taken beta blockers. I haven't taken an orchestra audition in a long time, but if I had to again, I would consider taking the pills. Auditions for me, were just torture. Bleh.
Taking medications whether for performance problems that are out of control or for health reasons that get in the way of performing your best is a personal issue and between you and your doctor and teacher.
There are just so many variables involved that no one knows but you and those people what the best decision would be for your case.
Then again....this topic is a surefire way to get a debate going ... :). Always a hot topic and one that can offend those who need medications very quickly...
As for taking cold medications, it depends on how sensitive you are to the ingredient that makes it "non-drowsy" or the opposite.
My dollar's worth (due to inflation).
I do take my ADD meds every morning, whether I'm performing or not. And I think that they help me practice better, and thereby feel more confident and prepared, and so also perform better, but that's more of a side benefit.
Nerve-racking experience is part of the experience that I’m asking for in life, if I want to do anything meaningful to me: be it performance, public speaking (including talking to the media, judges, politicians, group of experts, etc.), be it under pressure and feeling under-prepared, and be it speaking and arguing in a foreign tongue. If I put myself through the ordeal on my own volition in the first place, why would I need substance to deal with the nervous effect that will obviously come along with the whole package? I would not feel good about my performance if the good result is brought with by using substance or aids.
My mother (a pianist) has used medication before her performances to get over nerves back in the 1970s prior to her debut with Lenny Bernstein. Since then, she has occasionally used medication but complain about stomach cramps as one side effect. (She prefers to perform on an empty stomach but the drug insists that it is taken with food).
I remember reading an article in Reader's Digest about 5 years ago talking about Barbara Streisand using medication to control her nerves as well.
So I guess cases like this exist.
A new priest at his first mass was so nervous he could hardly speak.
After mass he asked the monsignor how he had done.
The monsignor replied, " When I am worried about getting nervous on the pulpit, I put a glass of vodka next to the water glass. If I start to get nervous, I take a sip."
So next Sunday he took the monsignor's advice.
At the beginning of the sermon, he got nervous and took a drink.
He proceeded to talk up a storm.
Upon his return to his office after the mass, he found the following note on the door:
1) Sip the vodka, don't gulp.
2) There are 10 commandments, not 12.
3) There are 12 disciples, not 10.
4) Jesus was consecrated, not constipated.
5) Jacob wagered his donkey, he did not bet his ass
6) We do not refer to Jesus Christ as the late J.C.
7) The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not referred to as Daddy, Junior and the spook.
8) David slew Goliath, he did not kick the $$=+ out of him.
9) When David was hit by a rock and was knocked off his donkey, don't say he was stoned off his ass.
10)We do not refer to the cross as the "Big T."
11)The recommended grace before a meal is not: Rub-A-Dub-Dub thanks for the grub, Yeah God.
12)Next Sunday there will be a taffy pulling contest at St.Peter's not a peter pulling contest at St. Taffy's
On the other hand I heard that my solos (accidental) sounded pretty good.
Moral: I would be careful what you take and try it out first.
Charles, where's your data? I wouldn't make such a definitive statement without looking at the data first. Perhaps in your experience, but you can't make such a conclusion based on that. And you're also making a recommendation for a drug that carries a high risk of dependency (especially for people who have to use it often), while beta blockers don't carry this risk.
Some people suffer from nerves that are to an extent that it IS A MEDICAL PROBLEM. And Inderal doesn't affect anything but the heartrate. It is a blood pressure medication. Regulates the beat, so also for tachachardia.
Valium, on the other hand, is a controlled substance that DOES affect your performance. Inderal can affect your performance I suppose in one way or another if you want to get specific about it. But so does how much you have slept etc. etc.
Some people would like to experience the good and exciting and rewarding things in life, but come on. If you are shaking so badly that you can't hold your bow, then what kind of performance are you going to be able to give. And how good are you going to feel about it.
And the rejection notice that comes in the mail a week later. It isn't fair to work just as hard as the person next to youand then to have this happen. Especially when it is totally avoidable.
I have never heard of anyone becoming dependant on Inderal. And you work with a doctor, like I said in my first post, and the doctor can give you better advice than anyone on this website who thinks they understand nerves and then say to just live through it or do pre-performance mental work. That is helpful for some. But not helpful for others.
There was a recent article in the New York Times about a disorder that causes tremors and trembling hands which is exacerbated by being conscious of it and nervous about it and then trying to overcome it. It just gets worse. It is a neurological thing. It is hereditary. It is real. Some people can't eat in public because they shake, or eat sandwhiches. Spill their coffee or drinks because they can't make it connect with their lips. Treatment?
One of them is Inderal. THere are varying levels of degree with this medical problem just like any other. If you have trouble signing checks in public... just think what trying to do a recital would be like.
Don't knock a medication or the person that takes it until you know all the facts. Which you can't. Because you are you, not the other person.
I am greatful for my career and ability to do what I have done and am doing in music on the violin and viola. I couldn't have done it without Inderal. My first semester in college was disasterous until I went to the doctor and discovered this. It is cheap,too. 10 dollars for a bottle that lasts forever.
I also take valium. I have NEVER taken a valium before performing. Or even within 5 hours of a performance on that day of performing. No matter how nervous I am. So I don't think I am "weak". Nor do I think any of these other folks writing on this topic are, either.
K. No more getting upset about this.
:) smiling and eating dinner and getting ready to watch a mindless television series.
And seeing as several beta-blockers don't even enter the brain, I still don't see what dependency has to do with the fact that it works for many people. In this situation, taking a beta-blocker makes you no more dependent than choosing to treat tendonitis with ibuprofen.
Also, Jennifer, I don't understand all of this stigma attached to beta blockers. No professional musician I know decries the use of these pills. (Come to think of it, the amateurs don't have an issue either.) But professional musicians tend to be pragmatic...
I had a nice "Girls Night Out" on Saturday, and one of the gals was recovering from her BRAIN TUMOR surgery. Her hair hid the four inch incision on her skull very well. We took her shopping with her child, and had a marvelous time watching her try on makeup at the cosmetics store. I had beta blockers on my mind this weekend, trying to understand the rationale of people that disapprove of taking them, and trying to respect their views. But hanging out with BRAIN TUMOR gal put it all in perspective for me...if you are sick, hope that your MD is good, your health insurance is adequate, and take it from there. I don't think BRAIN TUMOR gal has to listen to finger-pointing people telling her that her brain surgery was a big mistake.
Excuse the rambling. Everybody have a healthy week! Or a healthy life, for that matter!
But my experience as a student was that there were a lot of performance-type of situations that I was put in that weren't voluntary. I had to do them if I wanted to participate at all: I had to audition for the orchestra, for the teacher, etc. If I didn't audition I couldn't play. There really wasn't much voluntary about it. And those were the situations where the performance anxiety was the worst and most debilitating. I saw my daughter going through it too a couple of years ago: her teacher wanted her to perform and she got really anxious about practicing and her attitude about playing went downhill.
In adulthood, I seem to have grown out of some of the worst of the performance anxiety I experienced as a youth, and don't find myself feeling the need to revisit inderal (to see if the dosage I tried before wasn't right or whatever). I've finally had the experience of learning something constructive from my anxiety. But here in adulthood I'm also choosing when and where and what to perform. I'm playing for fun, for known friendly audiences. It's voluntary, and it's a blast.
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