Thursday, January 30, 2014

5 Steps to Embracing Your Nerves

From the time we were young kids to now, people have always told us that when it comes to stage fright, it’s best to try to calm down. Whether it’s deep breathing exercises, being prepared with hours of practice, or avoiding thoughts of self-doubt, getting rid of nerves before performing has always been the goal. A new article published by Scientific American, however, states differently. The overall message of the article is “embrace the stage fright”. 

Why? The articles states that “new research finds that people who try to relax away their performance anxiety actually mess up more than folks who just give in to the excitement.” Believe it or not, from this article, spinning your anxiety and nerves into enthusiasm actually works.

Another theory that goes along with turning nerves into excitement is the idea that nervous energy is necessary. You should be happy to feel anxiety because you are doing something you care about. If you don’t feel some sort of anxiety, you probably don’t care anymore. Even the most skilled public speakers get performance anxiety, but they take this negative and turn it into something positive by putting more enthusiasm and excitement into their work.

Want to try these theories for your next job interview, musical performance, or speech? Here are five steps to follow to try to turn your nerves into excitement!

1. Accept your anxiety
Most people want to cure anxiety or deny they’re feeling it, but fighting it only makes it stronger. Know that it’s natural to have some fear.

2. Take a few deep breaths
Many have heard this step, but how often do you actually do it? Making sure to take deep breaths calms you and gets your mind off of negative thoughts.

3. Tense and relax arms and legs
Doing this releases trapped nerve energy from your body getting rid of the “shakes” that some people experience.

4. Re-frame anxiety into excitement
You’re anxious because you care. This interaction is important to you, and there’s nothing wrong with that. This step is to refocus the nervous energy you are feeling and not hide from it. Re-define the feeling as an enthusiasm to do well.

5. Go for it NOW
No matter what you do, if you wait too long, your excitement will turn back into nervousness, so give yourself to the count of three and just go for it while you’re in a positive excited state.

Friday, January 17, 2014

3 Characteristics of a Big Band

Did Someone Order a Big Band? 

Big Band music dominated the scene in the late 1930s and early 1940s, a time also known as the "Swing Era". The Swing Era was known for dance floors filled with jitterbugs and evokes images of tuxedo-clad big bands. Today, few big band dance halls exist, but that doesn't mean that big bands went away. Big bands have evolved with the times but they hold on to some of the same characteristics and values that their Swing Era descendants held closely. Here are three ways you can spot a Big Band today.

Number of musicians
They call it big band for a reason. A big band consists of large group with multiple sections for brass and rhythm. In comparison to improvised jazz combos, an arranger primarily crafts big band music in advance. A big band can be viewed as a team of musicians; it's up to the arranger and director to get the most out of his or her team's talents.

The sound
Big band sound consists of rhythm, brass, and woodwind instruments. Big bands today can be found playing all styles of jazz music respective to the swing era. While the big band sound has adapted with the times, there are still groups that cherish the original sound that big bands were known for in their heyday.

Many big bands performed in ballrooms that had dress codes. Tuxedos are iconic to the swing era and therefore worn by big band musicians. Big band musicians today are often seen wearing more modern tuxedos which is just another way big band music continues to adapt to modern culture.