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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The May 2009 entrée: Jeff McBride » » Stage fright? » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

MarkTirone
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Hi Jeff! Do you have any advice on stage fright?
Jeff McBride
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Jeff McBride
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Greetings Mark and all,

As a magic teacher and personal life coach, I have helped many performers cope and overcome the debilitating effects of stage fright. many of our students are not full time professionals and have to deal with performance stress. I write a monthly column for MAGIC called "ASK THE SHOW DOCTOR."
http://www.magicmagazine.com/

In the ASK THE SHOW DOCTOR column a few years back I wrote an article for MAGIC magazine on the subject of stage fright. I offer advice on many challenges that magical performers face and possible solutions.
(You may reference the following essay, but please do not forward or reprint this. I have the copyright and will publish a book of these essays one day...thank you! Enjoy.)

Diagnosis: The Shakes
(a.k.a. exposed nerves or nervousness)
MAGIC • june 2007 01

SYMPTOMS: Loss of breath control, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, nausea, forgetfulness, sweaty palms and forehead, tremors or shaking.

CAUSES: Lack of adequate practice, lack of confidence, adrenaline overload, classic stage fright.

OBSERVATIONS: One of the most common questions that I’m asked is how to overcome stage fright and butterflies in the
stomach. We must ask ourselves this question, “Who wants to have a hobby or profession that makes us tremble and sweat?”

The obvious answer is, “All of us!” I have also found the prescription of Dr. Rob Gilbert not only humorous but also helpful
in examining this debilitating dis-ease: “It’s all right to have butterflies in the stomach, just teach them to fly in formation!”

Stage fright and nervousness can be overcome with a daily regimen of practice, rehearsal, deep breathing, and low-stress performance.
Many performers that I’ve witnessed in their nervousness are simply struggling for what to say next. They do not have adequate scripts and they have
not run through the routine enough to get over the hiccups where speech and physical technique intersect.

SUGGESTED REMEDIES: Deep breathing exercises… Before a show or practice session, try this: Take a slow, deep inhale, and feel your belly expand and your lungs completely fill. Make this inhalation last for a slow count of four. As you exhale, feel your lungs empty completely as your ribs draw together. Make your exhale last for six counts. Repeat this sequence five times. Notice any differences. This will help the symptoms of shortness of breath and will also have a positive effect of the symptom of the racing heart. Additionally, it will help to quell nausea or nervous stomach. Make sure you remember to write in some deep and gentle breathing into your script. It’s the pause that refreshes!


The best treatment for nervous forget- fulness is a simple formula: Intention + Attention = Retention.
Memory expert Jonathan Steel discovered through his research that nearly all memory systems boil down to this simple three-stage formula. First, you must have the intention to memorize the script or words that will go with your actions during the magical perfor- mance. Second, you must drill the script
with the actions, over and over again. I often do this while I’m on the treadmill at the gym. For me, this is the best place to do this type of work uninterrupted. With longer scripts, I often have the words on my iPod, so I can listen to them throughout the day.

When you first start memorizing scripts, keep them short. I have learned to have a compelling opening line, then a few short lines — remember the breaths and pauses — that center the effect and keep it moving toward the closing line. Have a powerful closing line that wraps up the effect. Script- writing is an art in itself.
For further study, I recommend Eugene Burger’s excellent essay, “Editing Our Magic Scripts.”

Other thoughts are to carry cue cards with you to refresh your scripts during breaks in the day or during travel time. Many professionals will write their show order with a black marker on a wide piece of white tape, which is then affixed to the stage near the microphone stand.

To treat sweaty hands, experiment with having a dark hand towel on your table or nearby. Having a portable fan with you back- stage can also help. One trick that Las Vegas acts utilize is to hide two small black rotary fans behind the downstage monitor speakers, pointing toward the center microphone stand and keeping the air cool and flowing.

Nervous tremors will decrease as practice increases. The daily practice of magic in low- stress situations and social interactions will
train our endocrine system to be able to han- dle the influx of adrenaline triggered by the performance situations. Think of the adrena-
line gland as a sponge. If you perform only a couple of times a week or once a week at the magic club, a huge amount of adrenaline will
be dumped into your system all at once, bring- ing the associated discomfort of the “fight or flight” symptoms. Performing on a daily basis will help balance and familiarize your system with the incoming adrenaline.

Nervous shaking is similar to ungrounded electrical current. If you are performing close- up magic and your hands are wobbling, you can anchor your hands by resting them on the table or close-up mat. This placement provides a lightning rod effect and will move the excess energy into the solidity of the table. If you are standing, you can use a microphone stand as a lightning rod, something to anchor you so your feet do not shift back and forth. By cen-
tering on the microphone, you can “ground” your energy.

CASE STUDY: One particular student had uncontrollable shaking of his hands and
body during his presentation. The routine he presented was an escape effect that dealt with chains. Instead of trying to hide his nervousness, we decided to transform his bodily shaking into excitement by writing the shaking of his body into the script. When he picked up the chains at the beginning of the routine, he told the audience that even the thought of putting these chains around his body excited him uncontrollably. At this point, he would start to shake in an exagger- ated manner, jangling the chains and smiling with maniacal glee, thus transforming a perceived negative symptom into a positive prescription. He taught his butterflies how to fly information.

CONCLUSION: By examining our speech patterns and using creative language, we can transform our reactions to the words and thoughts that can trigger nervous reaction. Instead of “nervous,” say “eager.” Substitute “excited” for “anxious.” My old friend Bill Barnes used to say, “Don’t be anxious, it breeds anxiety. Be eager, it breeds eagerness.” Magic is good medicine.

It is my pleasure to help you with your question Mark!

If you have any other questions please write me care of MAGIC magazine
http://www.magicmagazine.com/february08/......doc.html

Yours in the healing art of magic,

Jeff McBride
a.k.a."The Show Doctor"
Let's keep in touch! I would love to send you my free, inspirational MUSE-LETTER. SIgn up here:
<BR>http://www.mcbridemagic.com/join/
<BR>
<BR>Creator of [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxHcwrL6lZU]The McBride Magic and Mystery
DRS
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Awesome answer Jeff.
Jessie
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Jeff,

This is excellent.

Jessie
rowdymagi5
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Excellent advise, thanks!
MarkTirone
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Thanks for the advice Jeff Smile
magicbjl1970
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Great advice Jeff.

Thank you.
BudTCB
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Very Very helpful advice!... Thank you.
Whitewolfny
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Jeff,
You have described my problem perfectly. Thanks so much for providing truly useful help to cure (or at least reduce) my stage fright.

Many thanks
Braxton Mannar
<BR>Just an old dog trying to learn new tricks Smile
sterlingsteal
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I have had this all my life, a love/hate relation, I used a Hypno and that helped some but the angziaty is always there, it is lack if confidence , However My expectations will always too high Thanks always, your friend in magic SterlingSteal
Jeff McBride
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Jeff McBride
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I am very happy that you have found this info useful

Magic should be a thereputic expression of art...not make us crazy!

JEff
Let's keep in touch! I would love to send you my free, inspirational MUSE-LETTER. SIgn up here:
<BR>http://www.mcbridemagic.com/join/
<BR>
<BR>Creator of [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxHcwrL6lZU]The McBride Magic and Mystery
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