originally published in Sound Waves Magazine October 2019
No matter which musical level we’re on, it takes an inner strength beyond our talent and years of practiced skill to get through a show. No matter what our problems and distractions are, if we’re paid to be on stage, the show must go on. Nobody wants to have a meltdown or see a meltdown. Nobody wants to be a nervous ninny or be forced to watch one. There are countless talented people in the world whose gifts shall never see the light of day because of the affliction we call “stage fright.” In other words, they just don’t have the guts to get out there.
It’s a sad truth, but even the Wizard of Oz’s Lion figured out eventually how to reach for courage. Ya just gotta go for it. The fearless prevail, always, and in all things.
When not a single soul is paying attention to your talent in the corner, and the bar manager says you can just stop if you want, you go deep, and keep going.
When you’re Taylor Swift and there’s a hundred thousand people in the audience waiting on your next move, you bring it.
When you’re the barbershop quartet at Magic Kingdom and it’s 100 degrees out with 100 percent humidity and you can barely breathe never mind hold the high note, you take a deep breath and hold the high note.
When you’re the main stage band at Animal Kingdom, in the same oppressive weather, and you have to jump around on stage to keep the crowd interested, while dying, you worry about dying later.
When you’ve got your first gig with a new band and you freeze trying to sing the song “Freeze Frame” by J. Geils, you un-freeze yourself and get going on the not that difficult after all lyrics.
When your guitar string breaks in the middle of a song in the middle of a high-profile gig, you play around those notes and make it work.
And at the scariest moment of all, performing at your first school recital, you just look out at mom and dad and hope the ice cream is coming soon.
The same can be said for dancers, athletes and actors. The difference is always how you handle the butterflies in your stomach; the gut-wrenching fear of public failure. To perform, it just takes guts. Or as I like to say, intestinal fortitude, and it makes all the difference.
I like to take the opportunity during the Halloween season to brush up on my anti-scaredy-pants skills. I watch scary movies. I go to haunted houses. I light eerie candles. I eat questionable candy. It’s all part of my personal fortification plan. Somebody’s gotta do this stuff! Happy Halloween!