Grantallen wrote:I have been a professional performer for most of my life (40 years) and can honestly say that 'stage fright' has not bothered me one bit! ................ the reason? I have always ensured that I am 'totally confident' about my performance! And how do I reach this state of confidence? .....
Practice! (if necessary) If you are not confident about your performance of a specific piece then the only way to get confident is to practice it until you can play it. On the other hand, if you cannot play (or sing) the piece effectively, you must ask yourself whether you should be performing the piece in the first place!
If you are a professional performer you should not even consider giving a less than 'perfect' performance. If you are an amateur; then I am afraid that nerves are all part of the package!
Congratulations! Your last comment "If you are an amateur" is a wonderfully arrogant insult, that at a rough guess probably applies to 99% of the visitors to this website: the vast majority of choral bodies are comprised of amateurs. Moreover, if any significant proportion of amateurs do
suffer from stage fright – and from anecdotal evidence, it seems it must be quite a number – then, again congratulations, for kicking them back down in their place, with such a put-down.
Perhaps as a solo instrumentalist, you might be permitted to have such overweening confidence in the strengths of one's performance, but ensemble work relies on the interaction with individuals other than yourself, to the extent where the quality of your own performance may
suffer owing to mistakes, or inept preparation and rehearsal by people over whom you have no control at all.
Vaarky has also mentioned the issue of having to be brought in as a sub, which I can relate too. I had to conduct a concert last month on one day's notice, when the conductor went down with good old H1N1. (Likewise I had about five minutes warning that I was going to be running the scheduled rehearsal on that day.) For my part I know I gave as good as a performance as I could manage in the circumstances, but I knew in advance that it would be less than "perfect", largely for reasons completely out of my control. C'est la vie.
I've participated in a few professional* performances where rehearsals have been fraught, or in other ways have been somewhat inadequate (too much music, too brief time to rehearse), which has led to a certain "frisson" of excitement when it came to giving the performance. Would I call that nerves? I would hesitate to say, since you say you lack them. But professionals most certainly do
get stage-fright, and they can suffer from it on the biggest stage of all: I recall a certain recent inauguration where a rendition of a well-known anthem began at the words "... by the dawn's early light".
There's no glory in giving the only "perfect" effort in an imperfect performance, and no individual from the conductor down to the 4th percussionist sitting around to play one cymbal clash after 800 bars tacet
should ever feel complacent. As a performer, I have total confidence in the things that I personally can do; as for the rest of the ensemble, that's their business, but one can be justified in having occasional reservations, when for example, a choral entry is always hesitant or reliant on a certain cue; or the conductor always seems to take a certain passage at a difficult tempo for the entire ensemble to match.
* Professional in the sense of, a professional orchestra and choir performing to professional standard, despite suffering from inadequate allocation of rehearsal time thanks to the supposedly "professional" orchestra administration. However I admit it's a delicate line to tread, since it is also easy to over-rehearse a work.