I only started playing in a band in my late 30s … too old to start, right?!
I’ve played piano all my life, and had a “classical” music upbringing - daily practice regime, weekly lessons, and once or twice a year, the next grade exam until done them all.
I played in plenty of concerts - solo and as accompanist to other musicians. This progressed to playing in bigger shows & musicals.
Never played in a band though. Just classical music (and the occasional am-dram show).
In my mid-30s a friend asked me if I fancied learning the double-bass, as he wanted to put together an Eastern European Folk Trio: accordion, fiddle and double bass. He played accordion, but didn’t know anyone for the other roles.
I loved the idea (how hard can the upright bass be after all?!), and within a month of us finding a fiddle player we were performing in a club … our first outing.
I’ll never forget that night.
People LOVED the music. Everyone was dancing.
From the stage I looked round the room. Every single person I saw was … smiling.
And in that moment, as I played bass alongside a couple of mates, I realised something wonderful:
No one was interested in ME!
In fact, no one seemed very interested in ANY of us … they were just wrapped up in the rhythms and the music.
What a huge difference from my classical background!
My experience was (kind of) “sit down, be quiet, listen to my performance, and I might impress you.”
THIS experience was “stand up, DANCE! let the music move you … I’m simply here to help the music happen.”
It was a liberating moment.
There was NO pressure on me.
No stress of “performing”.
No expectation that I’d be “amazing”.
Only an intention to enjoy the music.
My job - our job - was simply to do the music justice.
Since that night, I have never had stage fright. Never had performance anxiety. In fact, a few weeks ago one of the bands I’m in played our biggest gig to date, on a huge stage, to about 5000 people.
Same story - they danced, they smiled … and they weren’t focused on us - only the music mattered.
And I’ve realised the SAME thing is true in business ….
People get “performance anxiety”.
As you make your pitch, do your presentation, write your post, go to networking … and all the other activities involved in “being out there” …
… it’s quite normal to worry about “what will they think of ME?”
Well, here’s some good news …
They don’t care about YOU.
They only care about the music and having a good time … or, in this case, they only care about their situation and feeling better about it.
If you’ve suffered from stage fright, performance anxiety, or any other uncomfortable feeling, maybe it’s worth realising what YOU are focused on.
Chances are, you’re focusing on yourself.
How about joining your audience, and concentrate on what THEY’RE focused on? - Themselves.
Takes all the pressure off.
Makes you more effective.
Wins more business too.
Maybe it’s time to let YOUR “music” out, and just be the vehicle to let it shine?
After all … that’s what your audience wants.