Performance Anxiety Solution?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by bronxkid31415, Sep 30, 2015.

  1. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    There have been reports of orchestral players suffering heart attacks from quitting beta-blockers cold turkey at the end of the season.

    Any performance enhancing drug, even those prescribed by a physician is little more than a band-aid. 'Tis far, far better to discover and correct the root cause of the anxiety than to mask the symptoms with drugs.
     
  2. Robbrand

    Robbrand Piano User

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    I wouldn't describe beta-blockers as performance-enhancing drugs. All they do is suppress the physical manifestations of anxiety and stress 0- the thumping heart, the shakes, the sweat. As any psychologist would tell you, mind follows body. The signals your body feeds to your mind determines your psychological reaction. So if you're anxious, your heart rate goes up; that tells your brain that you're in danger, and it pumps even more adrenaline into your blood stream, with the result that the heart rate goes up even more, and so on. So by suppressing the physical symptoms, you help set your mind at ease, so to speak. Beta blockers can't make you play better, louder, more in tune. They're not steroids.

    Yes, they are is a band aid. But sometimes you need a band aid. I wouldn't advocate it as a permanent solution, but as Steve also experienced, it often helps you through the time that it takes to get used to the activity that is causing the anxiety.

    BTW, the story about orchestral musicians suffering heart attacks after a season on beta-blockers is just scare-mongering. I have yet to come across a single such verified case in the medical literature. Beta-blockers are primarily indicated for heart disease, so yes, if you're taking them on doctors orders because you're at risk of a heart attack, then you may well have a heart attack if you stop taking them. But you can't blame the medicine for that!

    Lastly, let me end this lengthy post with a link to an interesting article on the issue: The Musician’s Steroid: The Controversy Surrounding Beta Blockers | Triple Helix Online
     
  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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  4. JRgroove

    JRgroove Mezzo Piano User

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    I'm kind of shocked that anyone is talking about taking drugs.:shock: I certainly would not take drugs before exhausting most other choices. My experience is that preparation reduces/eliminates performance anxiety. (I don't know about clinical anxiety issues. This is waaay out of my knowledge range)

    Preparation means many things. I was taught how to prepare correctly. Time on the instrument is important but how I spend the time is more important. I was taught to practice like it's a performance; use a metronome and a tuner, listen to recordings of what I'm practicing, record and listen to my own practicing, ...and so on.

    Also, other things impact how I feel. Have I slept and eaten well? Have I exercised? I'm I janked up on coffee, pop, pie, cake, or other such things? Am I worried about other anxiety producing things or people?
    Dealing with stress is a learned life skill. I'm better at it today than when I was young, coupled with less things seem to stress me out. I'm generally OK with myself and with you. :cool:

    I would at least look at all of these things before drugs.

    OK I'm done :soap:
     
  5. JRgroove

    JRgroove Mezzo Piano User

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    I tried to read the linked articles but they did not open :dontknow:
     
  6. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    ... or if they are really getting on my nerves and I really really do need to sedate them.
     
  7. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    You have no idea how often I have and the urge to sedate Vulgano Brother every time he comes to our ER with his mouthpiece stuck in his ear. I keep telling him that is not what I mean when I recommend he use his ear more for improving on his improvisation. Hello... don't take things so lateral VB...

    Ahh nurse, Ahh nurse, can you give that sedative now to then winged man in pod B? Why the hell does he keep coming back to my hospital:think: Could it be that he knows I am always ordering those sedatives:noway:
     
  8. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

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    As I was one of the first to respond to this and to mention inderal, I want to be sure I was clear on medication is to be used only as a last result. Last, meaning after everything else has been tried and then only under the advice and guidance of a physician.

    The reason I took the discussion toward dealing with "anxiety" is because the title from the OP has the word anxiety in it. If the issue isn't anxiety/nerves, then my comments really don't fit.

    Also, there are varying levels of "anxiety." For some people, simply saying practice, have good playing habits, etc. is all that is needed. Wasn't the case for me. In fact, sometimes telling someone that, or saying "just relax and play" has exactly the opposite effect of what was intended. Sort of like telling someone not to worry, so they worry about not being able to not worry.

    Again, medication only as a last resort. In a former life I was trained as a psychologist so I do believe systematic desensitization is often useful. Doing it so it is successful is difficult for most without some guidance. Anyway, best of luck. At least the OP knows he is not alone.
     
  9. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    And being there live to see him in action gives you a keen perspective that he really knows how to connect and communicate with an ENTIRE audience, no matter how diverse that audience may be. Yeah, he's got that other 98% down really good as well.
     
  10. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Bummer. A fun bit from the Guardian story:

    " 'It’s not a natural thing to do, going out and dealing with such high levels of stress in public,” says Aaron Williamon, professor of performance science at the Royal College of Music. 'And it’s nothing to do with age or inexperience. No matter how highly skilled a person is, the body’s preprogrammed stress responses mean they can enter a different physical state and sometimes even a different psychological state.

    At the Royal Northern College of Music, Professor Jane Ginsborg has a particular method for explaining this to her students. She asks them to write down what it feels like to fall in love, then, much later, write down what it feels like to stand backstage moments before a performance. Love and fear seem like contrasting emotions, but the descriptions most students will write for each are eerily similar."
     

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