Getting Nervous – good or bad?

Tonight I am playing a gig at a local pub in town, with two friends, both very talented musicians indeed. I am so far out of my comfort zone I’m practically in another universe. They are a jazz/blues duo and have been working together for about 3 years I think. Gigs such as tonight’s are bread and butter for them and I am so thrilled to be asked to join them.

We have worked hard together to make sure the harp is genuinely adding to the music rather than just punctuating and adding visual decoration (!). I love playing with them but the times I feel confident with them are few and far between. When these times come, it really is the most incredible feeling and worth all the worry and fretting that goes on the rest of the time.

There are lots of whirly feelings whizzing around my little head at the moment, but most of all, I don’t want to let them down.

Normally when I get nervous before a concert or a performance or whatever, I feel that I have worked hard enough to prepare and so although the tummy flutters a little, deep down I can recognise what’s going on for what it is – adrenaline and a little panic – and just accept it for what it is, knowing that it will be over soon. After all, performing classical music is what I have done since I was 5 years old.

Something about this is different. Somehow it matters more – the music matters more, the environment matters more, what I wear matters more and I have been having a completely irrational panic about what shoes to wear all week! Never mind not forgetting anything, the thing I am most worried about (other than not making mistakes!) is what to wear on my feet!!

I have some really fantastic shoes but no really special dedicated harp shoes – my normal ones are on their last legs and I associate them with having to look tame for weddings anyway. I can play in heels, in fact I really should as this is one of the rare activities when heels are beneficial. However, I hate changing shoes for driving and running around unloading the harp, so normally i stick to flats, and usually practice with bare feet as this is how I prefer to be at home.

Building up to this gig has been a fascinating experience – it is really helping me learn more about myself. I know that coming up to a performance, my ability to put in large amounts of practice disappears and this is often self-sabotaging. I don’t know why I do this, I know I am not the only one which helps, but I do know from how I’ve felt this week that I really need to get to grips with it.

I have gone from being thrilled to be doing it and loving that I can do something so special and unique, to genuinely wanting to sell every stringed thing I own so I can get on with Project M instead.

Today I am going to get stuck into some painting – this will make a huge difference to how I use my space at home as I will be able to get all my furniture back in place, and so it will give me enough room to do the Pilates/yoga stuff that I need to do to unwind my ready-to-snap body. It should also focus my energy on something else other than worrying.

I need to do some last minute practice just to try and reassure myself a bit. This is always risky as sometimes it goes well and I feel better, and sometime it’s disastrous and I end up feeling worse. But, if I don’t do it, I beat myself up even more so it just has to be done.

Lastly I will be having a long soak in the bath and then making myself look as good as I can – part of the fakery that leads to makery in my experience.

I think it will go well tonight. I’m not one for all this positive visualisation business so I won’t sit here telling myself ‘IT WILL BE GREAT’, instead I will try and do as much as I can to make sure it is.

Back tomorrow with a update on how it all went…..

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