Getting Your Music Past the Fear

Click on image to purchase book directly from Don.

Click on image to purchase book directly from Don.

 

IF YOU’VE EVER felt that sickening paralysis descend on you as you take the stage, this book is for you. If you’ve ever felt yourself putting out a stiff, wooden, forced performance when you know it could be a flowing, joyous experience, you’ll find help within these pages. If you know you have the music inside but voices keep talking you out of doing anything with it, you’re not alone. There is a way out. Fear is what keeps you from singing that song you wrote to your friends, or from putting a band together and looking for some gigs. Fear is what keeps you from relaxing, opening up, and really putting out what you have to offer, whether in a song, on stage, or in the studio.

This book examines the fear and its underpinnings with in-depth exploration and specific examples from the author’s 30+ years of experience as a professional performing and recording musician. Discussions cover both the deeper psychological issues that give rise to the fear as well as many easily accessible techniques for dealing with fear now, when you’re on stage in its grip. Specific chapters address performance, the recording studio, songwriting, business, rehearsal, and the larger arena of life in music. A section of concrete exercises, organized by application and context, is designed to help get your music past the fear and out in the world where it can do its work.

Playing music can be a joyous dance, an exquisite expression of life itself and all that it holds. Music can move mountains; music can change the world. Let your music come out and play. Get your music past the fear.

From the Author

Getting Your Music Past the Fear is my version of the book I looked for twenty years and never found. It’s basically a self-help book for musicians, written to help them do exactly what it says, get the music past the fear, in all its guises. It’s my sketch of the psychological landscape of performance and creativity, and my concepts and ideas on how to hopefully shorten the time necessary to learn to navigate it.

I work with musicians nearly every day either recording them in my studio or playing at various gigs, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have to deal with these issues of fear. Most people who have been doing it awhile have found their own way of working through or around the fear, and these ways may work well or perhaps could be improved. Or perhaps they work well up to a point but the musician feels stuck at a certain level and is unable to move beyond and break through to a better place in their career. And of course there are many more musicians, perhaps just starting out, whose music is not getting out at all because it is blocked behind walls of fear.

 

Outline

  • Introduction

  • Section 1 – Text and Discussion

  • Chapter 1 – The Music

    • Defining music
    • Evolution of music
    • The spectrum of music and expression
    • Teaching music
    • Where did the rules come from and how do we know them?
    • Casting the spell
    • Spell vs. structure
    • Getting in
    • The worth and effect of music
    • Allowing practice to serve the music
  • Chapter 2 – Self

    • Why am I so afraid?
    • Using your body Centering, grounding, extending
    • Health and physical energy 
    • Using your mind – outer issues The rulebook
    • Pain vs. pleasure
    • Choosing your focus
    • Into the music
    • Practicing how you want it to be
    • Unplugging
    • Paradox of focusing on self Music is bigger than you
    • Tar-baby and self-acceptance
    • Layers of fear
    • Worth Attaching worth
    • What’s worth worth?
    • Defining worth
    • Worth and songwriting
    • Self-imposed limits
    • The ego
    • Using the voice
  • Chapter 3 – Relationships

    • Performance – relationship with the audience The beginning of the
      performer-audience relationship
    • Audience judgment – permission to be affected
    • Why, and why not? 
    • Playing your part – accepting the mantle 
    • Grounding and centering in performance 
    • Performing in the now 
    • Extension 
    • Trying, and trying not to try 
    • Reaching past 
    • Serve the people, serve the music 
    • Self worth vs. self-importance 
    • The group creative process – tossing the ball 
    • Built-in magic 
    • Playing in a band – relationship with other musicians Areas of expression as individuals and as a band 
    • Diversity and common ground 
    • Keeping it together 
    • Being big 
    • Aikido and relationships 
    • Blessings and curses 
    • Parts and roles in bands 
    • Gear – relationship with equipment 
    • Mates and families – your support system 
    • Getting gigs – relating to club owners and industry people Appreciating the product – the value and effect of music
    • Making it work for everybody
  • Chapter 4 – The World

    • Learning from the world – feedback and expression Tossing the ball
    • Binocular vision
    • Drive and motivation
    • Goals and methods in a group Project planning
    • Getting moving
    • Aikido and falling
    • Congruence and the physics of honesty
    • Time, discipline, and choice
    • Life at the regional level
    • Songwriting and the process of creation Instruction and authority
    • Making a recording, getting it out Who do you think you are?
    • Being ready
    • The source of authority
    • Studio stuff
    • Recording it yourself?
    • Dynamics in the studio
    • Ratcheting it up vs. perfectionism
    • The producer
    • Wherever two or more are gathered
    • Mixing it up
    • Listening – studio and performance
    • Promoting the product
    • Promoting the release event
    • Promotion and image – the psychology of the star
    • The Big Picture
  • Chapter 5 – The Path

    • Belief systems, maps, rules and stories
    • Creating, like it or not
    • Desperation or worth
    • The courage and fortitude to walk it
    • Fear as companion
    • Mind and no-mind
    • Occupying your space – sending energy
    • Serving something fine
    • Worth in the world
    • Into the Mystic – music as spiritual path and practice
    • Walking the path
  • Section 2 – The Workbook

    • Tools
    • Stage Fright Emergency Tool Kit
    • General Purpose Exercises
    • Grounding
    • Centering
    • Source awareness
    • Sending awareness
    • Purpose
    • Goals
    • Rehearsal Exercises
    • Organizing practice
    • Clear the pathway
    • Send awareness
    • Let sound lead you
    • Let emotion and feeling lead you
    • Where are you in relation to the problem?
    • Hero technique
    • Setting the “doer” free
    • Performance Exercises
    • It’s about the MUSIC!
    • Grounding and centering in performance
    • Just for right now
    • Searchlight extension
    • Hero part two
    • Setting a trigger
    • Every song-best song
    • Threading the matrix
    • Unwiring the panic button
    • Reverse movie
    • Stage fright and “Yes, and – “
    • General mental rehearsal
    • Listening and weaving
    • Sound surfing
    • How easy can you make it?
  • Recording Exercises

    • Getting a good overview
    • On top of it
    • Erase head
    • No remotes
    • Record surfing
    • How easy can you make it?
  • Songwriting Exercises

    • Acceptance
    • In the waterfall
    • Song seeds
    • Hero techniques
    • Dealing with the critic
    • Dialog with the critic
    • End of the movie
    • The child at play
  • Business Exercises

    • What’s worth worth?
    • On purpose, again
    • You’re not such a bad girl after all!
    • Money, money
    • Myth man
    • Remotely possible
    • No whining!
    • Partners and friends
  • The Path Exercises

    • Extending the net
    • Listening to your life
    • The end of the road perspective
  • In closing

    • Appendix A – Sources for further reading and study
    • Appendix B – Don Con’s method of preparing to record a CD
    • Appendix C – The Tar Baby story