Stage anxiety

Edited: September 26, 2019, 11:05 AM · Some time ago i followed a thread about natural remedies that would calm down a person before a performance.
Most people suggested some form of beta blockers, which are drugs that treat a completely different set of ailments. So - my humble belief is - bbs are neither natural nor safe long term solution.

I have recently talked to friend a friend, who worked in the pharma industry about such things and he pointed me towards a possible more natural remedy.

Trypsin activated casein peptides.

I do not know the name of a specific product, but apparently milk casein contains a peptide that - when activated by this enzyme - acts as a calming agent, sedative, blood pressure controll and most importantly - anxiety suppressor.

Apparently babies are able to produce this enzyme, while adults loose this ability. It helps break down milk casein for them, and calms them down. This means babies sleep after breastfeeding not only because they are fed, but, because they are slightly sedated.

Anyone willing - give this a try. I’d love to hear about results.

Replies (67)

Edited: September 26, 2019, 6:24 AM · https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1107/casein-peptides

Why should WE try it? Why don't YOU try it?

September 26, 2019, 7:36 AM · Doh Paul.

It's me. I am constantly being accused of being a prick on this forum, do you feel left out?

Some people on this forum swear by all sorts of chemistry. I stumble upon something natural and get it shoved back into my cavity? WTF?

I don't need this because I apparently do not play in big or important enough venues to give me stage fright.

Is there a forum moderator? Can you delete this thread as it's apparently too offensive to bigshots like Paul.

Edited: September 26, 2019, 7:42 AM · I think you'd be getting a less harsh reaction if it was something that appeared to be backed by any scientific evidence whatsoever, or if it was something where you had some personal experience.

And if you were less judgy of the people who take beta blockers, which are backed by significant scientific evidence as well as many professional musicians' experiences, even if they are a regulated synthesized pharmaceutical, and not a "natural" substance stuffed into capsules by what are quite possibly unregulated quacks.

September 26, 2019, 8:04 AM · I do not judge people for using a shovel instead of a hammer. But I do admit it's extremely convenient to find me offensive and continue to suggest that young violinists should hook up to BBs at a tender age 'because they work' and 'are safe'. The fact is, humans are devouring insane amounts of drugs, and it's not wrong to point out, that medically non-indicated use of them might not be optimal. And it's not offensive.

Having an opinion other than someone else's does not equal being offensive. Or at least it didn't until recent decomposition of human interaction by the millenials.

Scientific? I do not have access to scientific journals where these findings are peer reviewed and published. But that does not mean I invited people to poison themselves for my amusement - which is what Paul blatantly suggested.

http://letmegooglethat.com/?q=Trypsin+activated+peptides

September 26, 2019, 9:11 AM · I'm aware that I'm stepping into a minefield here...

Tony - would be great if you tried this experiment, and reported your results. Would be even better if you also tried it and was able to compare it to a beta blocker experience - but the problem with these kinds of experiments is that it is nearly impossible to create a controlled situation! There are so many factors at play with performance anxiety, and for the professionals out there whose livelihoods (or students whose auditions for their future schooling) depend on as-close-to-perfection-as-possible, the risk of trying something not proven to work by other professionals is not acceptable. It could be the difference between landing the orchestra seat or not, and frankly, if I were in that position, I'm not sure I'd be messing around with experimental things either. (In my status as an amateur, I'm willing to give alternative things a go because a performance not going well is not going to impact my ability to pay the bills! And, I have no problem with taking medication when it means that I can function at my best when it is most important.)

All this said, it would be amazing if you could get a couple of other people to participate so at least you'd have more than one person's experiential evidence re: your friend's recommendation. I think that is what you are trying to do here, but I don't want to assume...

There are a couple of studies, that are free to access, on milk caseins and how they seem to affect the body: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3205927/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4992109/

One in particular is how milk/casein possibly impacts opioid receptors, which I find particularly fascinating even as a not-scientist: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9216246 (click through to get the pdf).

Paul and Lydia - what do you make of these studies from an objective point of view? Where are the holes in them? What do the studies have going for them?

Edited: September 26, 2019, 9:53 AM · It is kind of a new one. I have a miracle cure for something, but I haven't tried it, but some googling reveals it to be a miracle (which it doesn't).

No one is getting their hands on my supply of breastmilk!

Tony, there doesn't seem to be any research on any of this relating to violin performance, anxiety or really anything relevant.

Pamela, one of the papers you cite talks about the effect of casein proteins on certain immune cells but not others (pretty far away from anything having to do with any pathways of adrenaline production), and the other claims that certain fragments of milk proteins have some affinity for opioid receptors. So, besides the paper not getting very specific on what is exactly going on, and positing some effect on the opioid system, the paper is also not summarizing an experiment, where there would be a control group. Surely, there are a number of foods and proteins that can interact with opioid receptors in the boy, since the body has opioid receptors everywhere.

If you want to prove you have something that helps with stage fright, you design an experiment where you are testing the effects of some treatment condition on stage fright, and you include a control group that gets some sham treatment. There is so much of the kind of papers cited here across the net, and good luck finding a useful way of staying healthy based on basic research into microbiology. I was actually trying to stay agnostic, until I did google, and after that, Tony's pity party looked pretty pathetic.

BTW, Tony, what are you even talking about? Tryptin is an antidepressant. Do you mean Trypsin? Because there's nothing there either, except the folk medicine your friend of a friend of a friend who once sat on a ski lift next to one of the Sacklers practices.

Edited: September 26, 2019, 5:01 PM · In 1977 I attended a round-table discussion of "stage fright" by professional musicians, actors and other performers in 1977. It was there I first learned about using beta blockers as the result of a question from a professional musician in the audience, following the main discussion, and reluctantly answered by the leader of the discussion, a physician/violinist. I think most of the professional musicians in San Diego attended the session, as well as all the musicians associated with the workshop that sponsored it.

I later got an Inderal (a beta blocker) Rx from my internist and my subsequent trial of it resulted in the first non-treacherous bow arm during a solo performance in 25 years (since I was 17). I subsequently experimented with reducing the dosage, which worked very well - I seem to do fine with only 2.5 mg.

What I have learned is that you cannot test a SF suppressor without actually being in the "threatening" situation. All you can test for is whether you can tolerate it - but that's not "nothing." If you can tolerate it the next step is to actually test it in a real situation. That will probably feel more threatening than any previous performance. But what other choice do you have?

For me the first test was a performance of Beethoven's Op. 50 Romance in front of orchestra. Backstage, before stepping out front, what went through my mind was "What the H... am I doing, these people have probably heard Perlman play this." And then I went out and played it with every emotive device I had developed and practiced since first getting the music at least 15 years earlier. I was totally pleased with the result and delighted in taking upbows all the way to the frog with not a shake or tremor. (Shakes and tremors being the only thing I ever feared since their first intrusion, 25 years earlier.)

I had found my savior!

September 26, 2019, 10:55 AM · Christian - I posted links to papers that discussed what caseins might be doing in the body, I didn't say that the papers had anything to do with adrenaline production.

I also figured Tony had a typo and was saying Trypsin not Tryptin, but I could be wrong?

This topic is neither here nor there for me, my livelihood does not depend on auditions and performances that are stellar.

Edited: September 26, 2019, 11:04 AM · Pamela, the basis for stage fright is in the body overproducing adrenaline in response to a stressor. Beta blockers (or beta adrenergic antagonists, if you prefer) inhibit the release of adrenaline and similar looking molecules, so that, for example, a stressful situation like performing won't result in a big adrenaline dump and a bunch of shaking and sweating.

The fact that you didn't post any papers that have anything to do with adrenaline is a good indicator (although reductive (but it's not my place to provide evidence against someone's extraordinary medical claims)) that the connection to mitigating stage fright is a number of leaps of logic away.

The science is just not there.

Edited: September 26, 2019, 11:20 AM · Correcting tryptin to tripsyn.
Apparently I let the phone correct this.

Thank everyone who managed to star this debate into a proper direction.

I am not sure I have many opportunities where I will feel enough pressure. I play 3 times weekly approx, but not in a classical concert setting. I have 1 upcoming event at a major concert hall in Slovenia where I might play a short solo part. Not enough to make an informed statement on the effectiveness.

September 26, 2019, 11:43 AM · "I am constantly being accused of being a prick on this forum, do you feel left out?"

Tony, I'm a little mystified here. For one thing, you weren't called what you said you were called. Not even close. I'm not sure why a forum moderator is needed.

I think Paul had an excellent point: when discussing drugs or chemicals, especially ones unknown to the average person, why should THEY be the guinea pigs? If you wish to put something in YOUR body, fine. Let us know what happens. But I don't think it reasonable to tell others to do it. And then be offended when someone points that out.

September 26, 2019, 11:45 AM · @christian My friend of a friend who knows someone who once sat near someone in a skilift....

Phenomenal attitude. I would not presume to talk like this to a stranger in Real Life, but I guess you being a fine gentleman you seem to be can insult me and my frends anytime.

Here is the anecdotal and non existent food suplement is which apparently won a non existent innovation in some made up country called Europe.

https://www.carso.si/dominor

September 26, 2019, 11:53 AM · Christian - that's the thing. There's just not a lot of research out there on caseins **in general** let alone with specific uses such as performance anxiety and the adrenaline cascade.

Thanks for the explanation of what happens in performance anxiety, I already know this stuff but perhaps other readers do not.

September 26, 2019, 12:12 PM · Milk proteins are as used by veterinary behaviourists as part of regimes for therapy of anxious dogs.
It is considered a safe alternative or adjunct to anti-anxiety meds
Edited: September 26, 2019, 12:56 PM · I guess Pamela, what I'm getting at, and this is specifically because there was a time that I was really into trying to read into journal papers and find out what vitamins or supplements or this and that I should be taking, and found that there are many interesting papers out there for all kinds of new supplements that just don't even get close to panning out. There is a big industry of scrappy independent charlatans trying to peddle snake oil that they back up with some tenuous science, but ultimately always have a personal interest in to sell. If people want something natural, meditation is free, getting good sleep is free, and performing more can be free. If people find that eating bananas works for them, then more power to them, and I'm okay with people's anecdotes, but when they try and sneak science into their anecdotes, they are being disingenuous.

Tony, we aren't in the real world, and if some nut came up to me and started talking to me about the anxiety-relieving effects of drinking milk proteins, and then went on to say that they themselves had never tried it and that they heard it from someone, since they heard I play violin, I would politely file it away in my mental "oh what a nice person I never want to talk to again" file, but since this is the internet, and presumably, you don't go around in real life giving advice you haven't tried yourself with no evidential basis that you are able to provide, then I'm going to put the onus back on you to start making sense instead of getting all sassy that people aren't taking your medical advice seriously.

Ah Europe, country of my heart...to think of all the carbohydrate-based dishes I supped on on the riviera, whichever riviera that was.

Sure Rosemary, but how well do those dogs play violin?

Edited: September 26, 2019, 1:00 PM · Taking chemicals to suppress your nerves is just putting a bandaid on the issue.

Overcoming stage fright is difficult and painful but entirely possible with reflection and intelligent practise.

Edited: September 26, 2019, 1:02 PM · There are supplements such as magnesium that are recommended for anxiety. Of course they wont be as effective as psychoactive drugs...and these latter take their toll.

Edited: Cotton, your post clearly shows you don't understand anxiety (which stage fright is a form of).

September 26, 2019, 3:02 PM · "Taking chemicals to suppress your nerves is just putting a bandaid on the issue."

There's nothing wrong with bandaids. Sometimes they're exactly what you need. I carry some in my car.

"Overcoming stage fright is difficult and painful but entirely possible with reflection and intelligent practise."

I don't think anyone has the right to make this statement. It's like when Madonna said "if I was able to be this successful anyone can." It's simply not true. Not everyone can have a pop career, or pitch in the major leagues, or play Paganini. And not everyone can defeat stagefright. It's a fairy tale for many people, and unfair because many people, using every possible psychobabble method (or even drugs), won't defeat it--and then of course it's they're fault because they didn't try hard enough. This is the problem with the self-help movement: If you're not perfect or successful, it's because you had a weak character or didn't follow my protocol.

Unfortunately, in classical music, far too many people with incurable stage fright make it through the cracks. They need to screen themselves out earlier so that they won't be miserable.

September 26, 2019, 3:17 PM · There are many different ways of dealing with stage fright. For example, one might find that they could take BBs in order to have a few decent experiences with performing, to de-condition the multiple bad ones they may have had in the past. Then they could gradually use less in each subsequent performance until they are using none at all, or perhaps so little that it's basically just a placebo.

Or, some people might find it useful to just perform more. This is the "wholesome" option. Like, busking, small recitals, etc... Just performing more in low pressure situations to de-condition the fear before graduating into higher pressure situations. I do feel that being strong in performing is a lot like being a conditioned athlete, in the sense that if you don't "exercise" for a while and then come back to it, you'll have much more trouble than if you'd stayed on it as often as possible.


There are so many other factors at play too, such as being comfortable with the other musicians. I have found that one of the biggest things that plays into how nervous I am in a group is if I know they'd forgive me for making mistakes. If they're very picky, I'll be more nervous.


Recording yourself is another great way of reducing the nervous effect of being watched. One big thing that can happen in performances is we become hyper-aware of all the mistakes we've been making, and then we think "I've never made this mistake before, so why is it happening now??" But you see, it HAD been happening. We just do a good job in practice of having "blind spots" where we don't notice our sticky points, until the day of the performance. Then we freak out. Recording often will allow you to spot your blind spots and address them far before the performance date. It also imitates the feeling of being watched.


Everyone has to address their stage fright differently. It's like therapy, in the sense that some people need strong anti-depressants in addition to regular therapy, whereas some others just need to start exercising. And of course, the ones that only needed to exercise are going to tell everyone "oh, you don't need chemicals, just take a nice walk in the forest!" But of course that false belief stems from their own experiences and their self-relation, which is a major blind spot.


As a side-note to this topic: as teachers, we are largely responsible for the development of stage fright in students. Obviously, parents play a major role, too. I personally don't hold recitals because I feel they play a major role in developing stage fright. I think students should perform when they eventually want to perform, instead of being coerced into it. As a result of this strategy, almost all of the students that started with me while young have decided of their own volition to perform (at talent shows, busking, etc...). None of them seem to have stage fright (although typical slight nervousness happens). I also feel that taking significant time in lessons to just talk with students about performing is crucial. It takes away a lot of the mystery. I try to talk them through as many potential nerve-land-mines as possible, so they're over-prepared in that sense. For example, which side will your music stand be on? Will you be open to the audience or hiding behind the stand? What will the room sound like? Will you be wearing different shoes? These are all things that we normally take for granted, but will suddenly notice when we're standing in front of an audience. Of course, the amount of advice has to be adjusted based on the student, because some kids might get overwhelmed by too much info, and others might just not need the talk (usually I can tell pretty quick who will be prone to stage fright, just based on personality).

Edited: September 26, 2019, 3:42 PM · Very good points, Eric. I wonder if stage fright is the same with introverts as it is with extroverts? Are extroverts less likely to experience stage fright?
September 26, 2019, 4:30 PM · As usual, the people saying beta blockers are unsafe/impractical/XYZ is not basing it on anything but their own prejudice. You can always tell by the use of phrases like "big pharma", "bandaid", "crutch" etc.
September 26, 2019, 4:50 PM · Teachers are not responsible for the development of stage fright in students although a thoughtless teacher can certainly exacerbate it.

Being a human being is the biggest risk factor for developing stage fright.

The best non-pharmaceutical I know of for performance anxiety is the book "The Inner Game of Music." I recommend it to all my students.

For myself, most of the time I am fine but for extraordinary circumstances with potential significant impact (major solos, auditions, etc) I take a beta blocker. They are very effective, far more so for me than eating a banana.

September 26, 2019, 7:20 PM · General anxiety is not some insurmountable wall as we like to imagine it. A person can move past their anxiety, with the correct guidance and persistence. I don't pretend to know the secret to curing everyone's stage fright, but I do know what worked for me: frequent performance and sharing my work on social media for all to see.


I am cautious to add ayahuasca to that list.

Edited: September 27, 2019, 5:58 AM · I didn't shove anything back into anyone's cavity. I don't think the vulgar imagery was justified.

All I did was link a reputable web page that gives even-handed, objective information about the product, since you said you didn't know what it was specifically called, etc.

Pamela wrote, "Paul and Lydia - what do you make of these studies from an objective point of view?" I don't have time to read them, and they're beyond my expertise anyway.

I don't have ANY opinion on milk casein as a sedative or as an aid for performance anxiety, in spite of what Tony seems to think. His post is the first I'd heard of it. The only part of his post that seemed weird to me was asking us to try it instead of him trying it himself.

September 26, 2019, 11:36 PM · I am enjoying greatly the mild irony that I had already settled into my evening with some popcorn and a glass of wine when I began to read this thread. Please keep it going!
September 27, 2019, 1:37 AM · Cotton, you said you shared your work on social media for all to see: where can I find it?
September 27, 2019, 6:47 AM · I suspect most of the people here who have frequent contact with professional musicians know plenty of professionals who have never, despite performing multiple times each week, and being thoroughly trained and prepared, overcome their stage fright. I actually think it's more common amongst wind/brass players than string players, since the ones with orchestra jobs play high-stakes solos night after night, whereas most string players can somewhat disappear into their sections.

There is also the cold fact that our bodies don't always do what our heads want. I can feel completely calm mentally and still find that my hands shake, and that no amount of the anti-stage-fright conditioning techniques that I've taught will reduce the amount of adrenaline or its effects. I've learned to modify my technique somewhat to lessen the impact of shakes if they occur, but that's really suboptimal to not having tremors. I'd certainly take beta blockers for big performances if I were able to do so medically. (I am on other blood pressure drugs, so can't safely add a beta blocker.) And it seems to be unpredictably random when or if it happens. (It happens randomly to me in the public speaking I do for my job, too.)

The mental calming techniques work for me just fine, but note: I can be mentally nervous because I feel underprepared, yet NOT have a physical reaction. The two seem uncorrelated.

No natural remedies have been proven to counteract the effect of adrenaline.

September 27, 2019, 11:39 AM · Tony what solo part will you play? Just curious! Good luck with it!
Edited: September 27, 2019, 11:46 AM · Hello to all from a new member.

While i am not a violinist(father of one), i did a lot of different activities in my time which required performing or being in front of large audiences.

My mindset is kind of different because i was always enthusiastic and motivated on this. Or more correctly was always pursuing those kinds of opportunites or events. Which automatically lead me or motivated me to be ready everytime.

This i believe is the key element to any performing profession. Being ready...

If you really practice and prepare until you are confident and in control of what you are doing, then any kind of anxiety or doubt fades away so that you find yourself in an opposite state of mind to these feelings.

My daughter is kind of like myself. While still young(11 years old) she absolutely likes and embraces being on stage. Such that me and my wife have a joke about how a virtuoso gets inside her while on stage. Completely changing in focus and doing everyhing which she usually ignores in practice...

I have seen her nervous 3 times. 2 of them were unexpected short schedule requests from her school where she was caught between working on new pieces while her polished pieces were on hold for a couple of months. The other one was a video recording for a competition, which came out of nowhere from her teacher where she had 5 days to repolish 2 pieces put on hold for 2 months. Thankfully she was selected despite being far from her normal playing. Funny enough she won that competition which was held after about 2 months.

Being ready and preperation seems to be the key. Although lately i am observing that recitals, concerts and even competitions like i have mentioned begining to pop out of nowhere. Maybe that is the nature of the profession or mismanagement on our part or her teacher. I don't know time will tell. It is a stressful race though being at your best in a limited time.


September 27, 2019, 11:51 AM · There's an old joke about Maria Callas (I think) being told at extremely short notice that the evening's opera performance was canceled, and saying, "That is impossible; I have already thrown up."

Anyway, point being that even at the highest levels of polish, preparation, and ability, performance anxiety can be a real burden.

Proper preparation can certainly go a long way towards reducing or mitigating performance anxiety but it's wrong to imply blame or fault if a musician continues to struggle with it. It's part of being human.

September 27, 2019, 2:32 PM · Noting Erik's comment and hearing crickets ....
Edited: September 30, 2019, 2:41 AM · @jean
We have not decided if I will play violin at all. I am a bassist too and I will play the bass guitar throughout the evening.

It will almost certainly be an adaptation of a Slovenian folk tune “Pastirce mlado” or “Zrejlo je žito”. I’ll post the links to soundcloud:

https://m.soundcloud.com/igor-ora-em/14-pastirce-mlado-in-milo?in=igor-ora-em/sets/nasa-slovenija-live-kranjci-in-prijatelji

Or

https://m.soundcloud.com/igor-ora-em/04-zrejlo-je-zito?in=igor-ora-em/sets/nasa-slovenija-live-kranjci-in-prijatelji

September 27, 2019, 4:57 PM · Mary Ellen, that's a good one - possibly true. The physician-leader of the San Diego workshop I mentioned earlier told us that vomiting suppresses the adrenaline response and that coloratura soprano Lily Pons (famous through the 1940s (at least)) was known to throw up before her performances.
September 27, 2019, 10:22 PM · Not sure what Erik and Paul mean. There are Cotton Mather videos on youtube and instagram. OK, his moment was in the 1990s and he's not like Beyonce or Maria Callas.
September 27, 2019, 11:39 PM · When I look up cotton Mather on you tube or google, I get a guitar band ( from the 90’s) or a Puritan minister from the 1770’s ( with lots of references to Salem witch trials) , and nothing to do with violin.
Don’t have Instagram .
If you found something more convincing, how did you do it?
September 28, 2019, 7:22 AM · I found the 90s band. In case it wasn't clear, I was making a joke. In case I missed your joke, well played.

I understand that musicians in rock bands, as well as ministers, regularly deal with stage fright too. Some people play other instruments and may be speaking from those perspectives.

Edited: September 28, 2019, 7:35 AM · My accounts are fully public, but since I show my face, full name, and the school I go to, I will not post my account here.

September 28, 2019, 9:51 AM · It is a very complicated story about anxiety. I was working to find genetic basis for differences in reaction to a stress for 5 years. Adrenalin is the last step of developing the anxiety, at upper level, a lot of other compounds are involved. And most of this compounds have several type of receptors, regulating several different cascades. Opioid receptors are also there.
So in spite, it seems, that the effect of milk proteins for the stage anxiety never was properly studied, to me it does not look unrealistic. I would be not surprised to see the positive correlation in the real study. BUT:
The thing is, that most probably it is not an alternative to bbs for people who is already sure in bbs effect. It is an option for people who do not dare to try bbs. And further more, i pretty much sure that the effect will be significant only for a portion of people. Because, the genetic diversity in receptors in the HNS much higher than just adrenalin receptors in the body.

Ask your doctor, if the milk protein is save for you, before you try it. If you do not take anything, avoiding bbs, and your doctor says that you can get a milk protein with no problem, why do not try it? Nothing to loose.

September 28, 2019, 10:28 AM · The thing that's worked remarkably well for me is taking an Alka-Seltzer chewable. That's because the primary effect of adrenaline on me is acid and nausea. Nausea, in turns, throws the rest of my body into a cold sweat, which often results in hand tremors. (Washing my hands in hot water, up to the wrists, and then drying them thoroughly, can help a little. This was apparently a habit of Kreisler's, to deal with his own stage fright.)
Edited: September 28, 2019, 10:46 AM · While preparation is essential, once the adrenaline hits, the story changes. Your hearing becomes so acute that everything sounds out of tune. Time becomes distorted; milliseconds last for what seem like an eternity changing your perception of tempo and rhythm. Your left hand tenses up like a rock and won’t move fluently along the fingerboard, when you change position you overshoot the note and your vibrato either disappears or turns into a nervous twitchy mess. Your right hand, that produces the sound, loses all sensitivity and control of pressure making horrible sounding notes and bouncing bow strokes. Mistakes occur, your heart races, and you sweat profusely producing more adrenaline. Any one of these issues can ruin a perfectly prepared performance, yet more than one hits you.

While there are other stressful situations, like public speaking in front of an audience, in most of those situations you can steer things some to relieve some pressure like telling a joke, taking a sip of water, or maybe take a short bathroom break and gather your composure. But with performing violin, once that first note is drawn, it is all you until you are finished.

September 28, 2019, 2:54 PM · I see Cotton has a different idea of what "public" means than I do.
September 28, 2019, 2:58 PM · You are welcome to find and view my account. That doesn't mean I want to advertise it on a large public forum.
Edited: September 28, 2019, 5:41 PM · Low-stakes performance for me today. Underprepared but not really concerned due to the casual nature (teacher's studio recital), and not worrying about making mistakes.

I'm on a new blood pressure med. Today was the first time performing on that med. I was caught unawares by the surge of adrenaline with the start of the piano intro (I was not really expecting nervousness, but as I've noted before, whether or not I get the adrenaline surge seems very random to me.) No nausea (thank you, alka-seltzer) but my hands shook. But I was unprepared for how the BP med's effects interacted with the adrenaline. I could feel my heart rate go up far more than usual, yet all of reactions were slowed down. (Unsurprisingly, the med has left me feeling generally sluggish, so perhaps this was predictable.) Adrenaline usually gives me more physical energy and lends a certain edge to a performance; here it seemed to have no such effect.

I figure that in the next three months, I need to do as many casual performances as possible (it doesn't really matter what I play), just to figure out the new physiological state, especially for things that last for more than a 10-minute movement. (I usually perform works in their entirety, which means a 30-40 minute continuous performance.)

I'm very much a believer in the physiological effects being uncontrollable without a beta blocker. You can learn to temper the results of the physiological effects, but you can't make the effects themselves go away. (And preparing to deal with the physiological effects involves a lot of work.)

If you never experience the physiological effects, congrats. I find the smug tone of those who don't, and who believe everyone else just needs to prepare as well as they do, to be pretty offensive.

Noa Kageyama, like usual, has a great article: LINK

September 28, 2019, 6:15 PM · ...….You are welcome to find and view my account...……

Quit impossible if you are using a pseudonym. ?

September 28, 2019, 8:56 PM · Cotton, you overstepped when you wrote, "sharing my work on social media for all to see." You mean all within your social sphere. That's fine, by the way, and understandable.
September 29, 2019, 7:21 AM · thanks for the links Tony, such melancholic folk music, must feel good to play that, and I know it is not as easy as it may sound to carry such solos on the violin!
Edited: September 30, 2019, 7:34 AM · Lydia, I too was first struck by "stage fright" on the lowest-stakes performance I had ever given - but mine happened 68 years ago when I played a couple of old-English songs for my high school English class. I was 17 and had been performing around the county for 3 years with audiences up to 1,000 with no problems. It hit me as bow shakes but I had no feeling of fear or nervousness - until the shaking started.

The problem never went away after that but a fear of shakes entered my mental reality. But since discovering "BBs"I don't know if I would shake without them because I would not risk a solo or small chamber music performance without them. Other contemporaries of mine need BBs for heart problems so their performance worries ended as their lives took on other concerns.

I have not had a problem with public speaking for 57 years and have not had to use BBs for that. I seemed able to cure the first troublesome speaking experience at a national meeting by spending a year teaching an adult course. The symptoms were different than those for music performance and never returned after the first class session. (I wonder if being able to control the "tempo" of speaking helps compared with the lack of such control in performing classical music.)

September 29, 2019, 11:41 AM · I did review the post above but may have missed a key point on BBs (sorry if you mentioned it Lydia) and that is that BBs only work on your peripheral (i.e. outside the brain/spinal cord) responses to adrenalin but do nothing to your central ones. Thus, if you feel a calming effect in addition to losing the shakes then that is probably a psychological relief.

Up front, I have no objection to anyone doing whatever they want to their body but for me using BBs is the wrong way to go - it makes me question why I am playing the violin if I needed drugs of any kind to make it possible. And this comes from someone that had performance anxiety that was so strong I would look out at my violin and question who's hand was playing it! Needless to say catastrophic events occurred during my 'performances'. Part of these were central (anxiety) and part was peripheral (sweats etc.).

Over about 10 years of making myself play I am gradually overcoming the central anxiety and (unlike Lydia, luckily) I am loosing the peripheral ones at the same time. The biggest key for me was to realize that the audience's reaction is none of my business that I was solely to focus on expressing the music.

Casein peptides? If it works for you, go for it. What could go wrong. And not only do I agree with Paul's comment - its the only one that matters because if it works in everyone else's trial and does not work for you then you are no further ahead.

[PS as a ~40 yr professor of neurophysiology I am doubtful that you are on the right track - but as a scientist I'll keep an open mind and look forward to hearing back on your experiment.]

Edited: September 29, 2019, 12:28 PM · Let me just add that I continued to perform solos and chamber music in public for 25 years between my first bad shaky-bow experience and experienced the problem every time. It never got better, I just learned to not use the lower third of the bow and compensate. I never tried playing standing in front of an orchestra until after discovering BBs.

The one time I played without any shakes was the time I participated in a masterclass. I guess playing in the presence of other players obviously infinitely better than I was and for a master who must have seen and heard everything, fear was irrelevant to my unconscious. I was not there to entertain or impress, but just to learn.

September 29, 2019, 3:32 PM · Today I got close to what stage fright must be like.
I had a 1 hour show an a national radio in Maribor. I played 3 songs on double bass and then switched to violin to play 3 more songs solo. I had about 10 minutes interview in between, so no time to prepare or warm up. Just directly from double bass to violin.
I have watched my body and mind carefully so I will be able to correlate my experience to future similar stressful experiences.

I have noticed my hands were colder (but not sweatier) than usual. I had a hard time warming them up. I was tired from 4 days of constant performing and disgruntled by a toxic conversation I had with one of my bandmates about 2 hours before performance. My mind was quite calm, but my playing was kind of twitchy in the beginning - as if my neurons had a hard time transmitting my intentions to fingers. By the time I got to violin bit, I was pretty confident and calm, so apart from 1 slight bowing error in “tango por una cabesa” and a couple slightly off notes in high positions, everything was close to perfect. All in all I think this performance was about 85 to 90 % of what I can do.

Now, next week I have 2 short radio shows in 1 single day. I will take some casein peptides and post the result.

September 29, 2019, 5:12 PM · LOL! If you have no problem then how will you detect an improvement?

Lets see we have a new herbal cure for the cold. We treated a person who had a cold last week but was better - and Lo! he is not sick.

Must work...

OTOH you might succeed in showing that it makes you worse...

September 29, 2019, 8:42 PM · Elise, water has cured me of every disease I ever had. It's the only common denominator. Well I guess there was air too, but that's invisible ...
Edited: September 29, 2019, 8:54 PM · "If you never experience the physiological effects, congrats. I find the smug tone of those who don't, and who believe everyone else just needs to prepare as well as they do, to be pretty offensive."

My thoughts exactly.

Edited: September 29, 2019, 9:39 PM · Andy Victor has me worried when he says that he got performance anxiety playing Beethoven Op. 50 because I'm performing that piece later in the fall ...

In my case, however, I don't think they've necessarily heard Perlman playing it ...

September 30, 2019, 12:48 AM · ""If you never experience the physiological effects, congrats. I find the smug tone of those who don't, and who believe everyone else just needs to prepare as well as they do, to be pretty offensive."
My thoughts exactly."

Yep +1 here

September 30, 2019, 12:54 AM · I got told not to tell people what to do, but rather do it myself.
So I said to myself - right - let’s try that. Let’s observe what’s happening before performance and try this myself. Then post the result.
I DID notice that some of the external signs of stage fright were present, but not to the point of being debilitating for a performance.

Getting nailed to the wall for starting this conversation without testing myself was - I thought - not justified. Getting nailed again for trying to do what was actually suggested to me... and for not having a debilitating stage fright (or perhaps just misunderstanding it as excitement) is kind of worse.

I feel like the (in)famous David Krakovich, so I will politely leave this conversation. This was not what I was going for at all.

Edited: September 30, 2019, 2:01 AM · Tony, unless I missed something, it doesn’t seem like you were the one who had the smug tone about good preparation as a remedy for stage fright and therefore maybe Lydia's comment was not directed at you?
Anxiety is a pretty complex phenomenon hard wired into the system of the person who suffers from it and I do not know if there is a cure per se, or just ways to take the edge off and to manage it.
Out of curiosity, has cognitive behavioral therapy been tried to tackle stage fright?
Edited: September 30, 2019, 4:59 AM · "If you never experience the physiological effects, congrats. I find the smug tone of those who don't, and who believe everyone else just needs to prepare as well as they do, to be pretty offensive."

I don't know if this was directed to me but since i believe that preparation goes a long way further clarification might be needed.

@Lydia

You've already said in your post that you were underprepared and more importantly had a change in medication for blood pressure which might very well have unpredictable side effects even in your daily routine. Don't you think that those two are major contributors?

On to the subject,

Rehearsing, practicing, training, preparation etc. are not only done to be good or excel at what you are doing but also done to gain the ability to perform and operate against unfavorable odds. Stage anxiety is definetly one of them.

To me emotions like fear, anxiety etc. operates like the snowballing effect. They have a tendency to quickly get out of control feeding on anything they can find. Therefore limiting or outright denying them something to feed upon is always a good and efficient way to contain them and remain in control.

No two people are the same. One might be in total comfort against an audience while another might be in total discomfort on the edge of collapsing. If you neglect those extreme ends the best thing you could do before professional help or medication is getting well prepared both physically and mentally.

Let's just assume that i am a violinist who happens to have some degree of stage anxiety and about to perform.

Is the piece i am performing within the reach of my ability? Did i practice it enough? What if i know that i didn't practice enough and it's not consistent? What if i know that it's a stretch piece and i have a possibility to not really make it through a couple of passages? What if i first saw my accompanist today and rehearsed about half an hour just before the concert and didn't go well?

Am i experienced and familiar in performing or is this my let's say second one? Do i know the customs in performing? How do i act? Where do i stand? Do i warm up? Do i eat? Do i rest? What is soundcheck?

What if i fail? Have i ever failed before? Is it the end if i fail? What if something really funny happens? What if my strings snap?

Much more could be added to these...The point is they are all independant factors but yet somehow relate or contribute to your stage anxiety. If they are not dealt with, things will escalate real quick.

We probably heard the phrase starting with "Once i get to the stage evertyhing comes together" countless times. This is how human perception works. Uncertainity and negative expectations drive emotions like anxiety and fear. On the other hand realization or materialization overrides them.

Therefore if one is to eliminate the factors which are constantly referencing and reminding them their stage anxiety,they will be in good shape. In fact the outcome would nearly always be way better than their fear and expectations indicate. That is what i understand from well preperation.

Of course; the intensity of the effects on your physical condition or the acceptabilty of the outcome with well preperation is personal. And should be dealt accordingly and properly.

September 30, 2019, 4:39 AM · "Getting nailed to the wall for starting this conversation without testing myself was - I thought - not justified. Getting nailed again for trying to do what was actually suggested to me... and for not having a debilitating stage fright (or perhaps just misunderstanding it as excitement) is kind of worse."

Perhaps you personalize things a bit too much? Trying it yourself was a great idea but suggesting you could test a treatment when you don't have the disorder was probably not. Is that really a criticism as you concluded? You could have laughed it off more easily than take umbrage. "Oh yes, you are right - but at least I can see if it makes it worse!" For example... And please don't take offense to that too.

September 30, 2019, 1:10 PM · Out of curiosity, is stage fright more evident in the case of string players than for instance in that of pianists? The bow is naturally fit to amplifying trembling and shakiness and the strings any intonation slip ups or unsure finger pressure.
Edited: September 30, 2019, 1:56 PM · @tammuz

That is really a good point. I would also expect to be much more pronounced due to the nature of string instruments.

September 30, 2019, 2:14 PM · I'll repeat what I wrote on a previous thread. Part of stage-fright is cultural, comes from the destructive expectation of perfectionism and competition. I have been fortunate to do both classical and other genres, and I only have stage-fright at classical events. I played solo amplified violin for an outdoors audience of 20,000- no problem. An audition in front of a panel of 3 ?--that's the worst.
At non-classical events I am conscious of the fact that the audience is not there to judge or compare or criticize, they are there to be entertained. I try to have that same attitude at classical concerts, with mixed results.
What helps: Make sure that your solo is 100 % within your current technical skill level. One dangerous spot can ruin your composure for the whole evening.
September 30, 2019, 6:42 PM · I learned from the San Diego round-table discussion I mentioned above that performing artists of all kinds are subject to stage fright but not every performer.

I recall a performance of the Brahms Horn Trio about 40 years ago when I split an Inderal pill three ways and shared it with the pianist and the horn player. The horn player was subject to shortness of breath and the pianist (who had worked his way through college playing piano) could have tightness and shakiness of hands.

September 30, 2019, 10:15 PM · Tammuz, in my experience that’s true
At 13, I sat for my first and last violin exam. ( I had successfully passed piano exams before this . )
To my horror the bow started shaking ( I am prone to occasional shaky hands) and the more it shook, the more anxious I got, till the sound was almost unintelligible. Because it was an exam, I had to soldier on, but I dropped violin almost immediately afterwards . I passed by the skin of my teeth, but I felt it was because they felt sorry for me.
In hindsight I’m surprised no-one said anything during or after the exam to reassure me.
What would happen in those circumstances today?
October 1, 2019, 12:17 AM · Ali K, my whole point is that my physiological reaction is unpredictable. (The latest episode is an illustration of a specific example of something new and totally outside my previous experience and does not invalidate my previous experiences.) I've shown up both highly prepared and totally not prepared and had the preparation level not make any difference in physiological effect. Being less prepared can make me mentally less calm but one of the key highlights of my experience of stage fright is that the mental and physical reactions do not seem to be especially correlated.

I have a new learning process ahead of me in the next few months to try to learn to manage the altered physiological effects of having the BP med. I have no objection to doing that. I am annoyed at the implication that I or the other people who experience stress reactions aren't preparing as well or, more insultingly still, don't want to actually work at it.

Most of us who really do performance preparations also practice recovering from our mistakes. We do exercises to prepare to adjust for tremors. We do more exercises to learn to deal with how a sense of time is distorted by adrenaline and a fast heartbeat. (If you estimate metronome markings by their relationship to their heartbeat, accelerated heartrate is doom.) We reverse bowings in passages, deliberately try shifting at the wrong times, etc. in order to practice seamless recovery and getting back on track without the audience noticing.

And yet, we are not miraculously calm despite meticulous preparation. I can do all that and be a trainwreck of tremors. I can skip all of that and be totally calm. Roll of the dice, each time.

October 1, 2019, 1:32 AM · Actually, some of my least-prepared performances have been my calmest.
Edited: October 1, 2019, 4:04 AM · @Lydia

I can totaly relate to what you are saying. Lots of variables involved in the process and there may very well be times where lt will be hard to come up with meaningful explanations like you've mentioned. My best wishes to you on overcoming these issues.

On the other hand; please note that my intention was not to tie this into lack of preperation or willingness to do so. Rather it was about containig and remaining in control to prevent further escalation. Basically it was about getting the best possible outcome on any given situation.


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