Nerves or Adrenaline?

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been legitimately nervous before a performance.  Usually, I’m ridiculously excited – I ran around the green room before my first college recital, in my dress and heels, to get out the excess energy so I didn’t play too fast – and take that adrenaline rush into the performance and don’t think anything of it.  I don’t think about the upcoming performance as something I have to play perfectly.  Like I tell my students, I can only recall one time when I had what I’d consider a perfect performance, and it still didn’t get me into grad school!  You just have to live in the moment and know that no matter how well or badly you think it’s going, you’re putting on a show and you just have to immerse yourself in that moment.

There’s a quote I live by that I discovered in high school, from the Dragonlance series.

“I will do this.  Nothing in my life matters except this.  No moment in my life exists except this moment.  I am born in this moment and, if I fail, I will die in this moment.”  ~Raistlin Majere, The Soulforge

Now, in Raistlin’s case, dying in the moment was an actual possibility, as he thought this quote before taking his Test to be a wizard and the penalty for failure was death.  At least auditions don’t work that way!  But mentally, this kind of mindset works.  Set yourself in the moment, have your goal(s) in sight, and trust that all your preparation will help you succeed.  When you think like that, you realize that you are ready to do what you’re about to do, and there’s no need to be nervous!

And yet…

Little things creep up, stuff that you don’t normally have to deal with.  I feel a changing energy in the air, swirling around tomorrow night’s Avery Watts performance at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles.  Maybe because it’s our L.A. debut, and we’re all centered here, and we’ll actually KNOW a vast majority of the audience.  Maybe it’s because of some of the people coming to watch us to “discover” us.  I am actually a bit nervous about the show tomorrow night, not because I feel unprepared, but because I want so badly to do well and impress certain people.  When I think about it from a completely objective point of view, there is nothing to fear.  We are going to rock that stage so hard people will talk about the show for the rest of the year.  It’s that emotional quotient, the war going on inside my own head, that puts in that element of trepidation, that sets in motion the fluttery stomach, quivering hands, and need for chamomile tea.

The last show I saw at the El Rey was Juno Reactor back in September 2008.  I was front row, right at the stage, in direct line with Sugizo.  (By the way, happy birthday, Sugizo!)  It was the first time I got to see Sugizo play violin, and no less than six feet away from me.  That power, that energy, rests on my mind as I contemplate tomorrow’s show.  I’m taking to the same stage as one of my idols.  Am I worthy to follow this path?  How will this moment define my life and alter the course?  What in the universe will change because of tomorrow night?

It’s these thoughts that make it difficult to concentrate right now.  I should go and do the things I need to do today, like look for a part time job or two.  I may get to be a rockstar tomorrow, but today I’m still a hungry musician.

~ by violarockstar on July 8, 2010.

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