3M employee Art Fry had a problem: When he sang with his church choir, his paper bookmarks were forever falling out of his hymnal. Thankfully for Fry, his coworker Spencer Silver had a new adhesive in the works.
How playing an instrument benefits your brain
Fascinating, better get out that instrument and get practicing.
We all know the importance of practice prior to a big recital or performance, but if you suffer from stage fright it might be helpful to take it one step further. While practicing your piece, think about exactly what you’ll think about while performing the piece. Don’t allow yourself to go into auto-pilot practice mode, but rather fully engage with the music. Visualize upcoming difficult passages while you play and immerse yourself in the rhythm.
Next, instead of practicing by yourself at home, ask close friends and family that you feel comfortable playing in front of to serve as your audience. Also, it’s ideal to practice at the venue you’ll be performing at, but if that’s not possible find a similar location, or try playing at a variety of locations, which can help eliminate setting distractions altogether.
2. Skip the Latte
You may think it’ll help you be more alert, but caffeine and sugar actually can agitate the negative symptoms of stage fright. It’s best to avoid sugary foods or caffeinated beverages the day of your performance. Believe us, the natural pre-performance adrenaline boost will be more than enough to keep you alert and energized! (Feeling too pumped up still? Try eating a banana. Its natural beta-blockers may help regulate your energy levels.)
3. Accept the Fear
Accepting that what you’re feeling is a natural biological response can be incredibly freeing and allow you to work past your stage fright. Have faith in your preparedness and…
4. Don’t Focus on Yourself
Think about how cool it is that you have the opportunity to bring enjoyment to those in the audience.
5. Be Confident
Don’t fixate on what could go wrong, but rather imagine all your preparation, skills and musical talent aligning perfectly. Remember the audience is there to support and encourage you. Avoid any and all feelings of self-doubt.
6. Listen to Music
Sport psychologists have long encouraged athletes to listen to music prior to big competitions, and some of the same benefits can cross over to musicians as well. For one, we can choose songs to put us into the right mood. Need an added boost? Pick a song that fires you up. Too worked up and need to relax a bit? Listen to your favorite chill-out song.
We all have our own way of entering the ‘zone.’ Practice your relaxation technique ahead of time, so that it’s ready to go when you need it. One suggestion is to find a quiet spot to sit. Slowly take 10 full breaths, in and out, through your nose. Count each breath as you go.
Stretching will help loosen tense muscles and allow you to focus on something other than your jitters right before the show. Take it easy, concentrate on your movements and shake it out when you’re done. Imagine all the negative energy leaving your body.
9. Use the Facilities
It may sound silly, but DON’T FORGET TO USE THE BATHROOM. Believe us, we speak from experience when we say there’s nothing worse for stage fright than having to ‘go’ when you step onto the stage.
10. Enjoy Every Moment
Smile as you walk onto the stage and look at the audience. Imagine all the people who supported you during practice out there cheering you on. Play as you know you can and graciously accept their applause at the end. Not only did you kill your performance, but you overcame your stage fright to do so!
(From the MusicNotes Blog: 10 Tips for Overcoming Stage Fright)
Happy Independence Day - Celebrate your freedom to believe (or not)
(via American Religions Born In The U.S.A. Bring Home The Country’s Rich Religious History)
How our very-real God loves an active, creative mind:
LETTER TO AN ATHEIST NATION
Neo-atheism seems to be on the rise. Is our instinct to believe in God a result of bad evolution, as this group believes, or is our instinct based on something else? VOP speaker Shawn Boonstra explores the differences between modern atheism and traditional faith.
Alternative sheet music education. Found here:
Bei des Mittlers Kreuze standen Maria und Johannes, seine Mutter und sein Freund. Durch der Mutter bange Seele, ach, durch ihre ganze Seele, ach, drang ein Schwert.
At the Redeemer’s cross stand Mary and John, His mother and His friend. Through his mother’s frightened soul, oh, through all her soul, oh, a sword pierced.
What is Christian Music? The answer from Switchfoot:
To be honest, this question grieves me because I feel that it represents a much bigger issue than simply a couple SF tunes. In true Socratic form, let me ask you a few questions: Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonatas Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds. The view that a pastor is more Christianthan a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty. Many songs are worthy of being written. Switchfoot will write some, Keith Green, Bach, and perhaps yourself have written others. Some of these songs are about redemption, others about the sunrise, others about nothing in particular: written for the simple joy of music. None of these songs has been born again, and to that end there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn’t come and die for my songs, he came for me. Yes. My songs are a part of my life. But judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing. I am a believer. Many of these songs talk about this belief. An obligation to say this or do that does not sound like the glorious freedom that Christ died to afford me. I do have an obligation, however, a debt that cannot be settled by my lyrical decisions. My life will be judged by my obedience, not my ability to confine my lyrics to this box or that. We all have a different calling; Switchfoot is trying to be obedient to who we are called to be. We’re not trying to be Audio A or U2 or POD or Bach: we’re trying to be Switchfoot. You see, a song that has the words: Jesus Christ is no more or less Christian than an instrumental piece. (I’ve heard lots of people say Jesus Christ and they weren’t talking about their redeemer.) You see, Jesus didn’t die for any of my tunes. So there is no hierarchy of life or songs or occupation only obedience. We have a call to take up our cross and follow. We can be sure that these roads will be different for all of us. Just as you have one body and every part has a different function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each of us belongs to all the others. Please be slow to judge brothers who have a different calling.
THE HISTORY AND CONFLICT OF CHURCH AND MUSIC: (an excerpt)
“Get rid of that flute at church. Trash that trumpet, too. What do you think we are, pagans?”
200s: Instrumental music was almost universally shunned because of its association with debauchery and immorality. Lyre playing, for example, was associated with prostitution.
“Hymns to God with rhythm and marching? How worldly can we get?”
300s: Ambrose of Milan (339-397), an influential bishop often called the father of hymnody in the Western church, was the first to introduce community hymn-singing in the church. These hymns were composed in metrical stanzas, quite unlike biblical poetry. They did not rhyme but they were sometimes sung while marching. Many of these hymns took songs written by heretics, using the same meter but rewriting the words.
“The congregation sings too much. Soon the cantor will be out of a job!”
500s: Congregations often sang psalms in a way that “everyone responds.” This probably involved the traditional Jewish practice of cantor and congregation singing alternate verses.
“Musical solos by ordinary people? I come to worship God, not man!”
600s: The monasteries, referencing “Seven times a day I praise you” (Ps. 119:164), developed a seven-times-daily order of prayer. The services varied in content, but included a certain amount of singing, mainly by a solo singer, with the congregation repeating a refrain at intervals. The services were linked together by their common basis in the biblical psalms in such a way that the whole cycle of 150 psalms was sung every week.
“Boring, you say? Someday the whole world will be listening to monks sing these chants.”
800s: Almost all singing was done in chant, based on scales that used only the white keys on today’s piano. The monastery was the setting above all others where Christian music was sustained and developed through the Dark Ages.
“How arrogant for musicians to think their new songs are better than what we’ve sung for generations.”
900s: Music began to be widely notated for the first time, enabling choirs to sing from music. Thus new types of music could be created which would have been quite out of the reach of traditions where music was passed on by ear.
“Hymns that use rhyme and accent? Surely worship should sound different than a schoolyard ditty!”
1100s: The perfection of new forms of Latin verse using rhyme and accent led to new mystical meditations on the joys of heaven, the vanity of life, and the suffering of Christ.
“This complicated, chaotic confusion is ruining the church!”
1200s: Starting in France, musicians began to discover the idea of harmony. The startling effect of the choir suddenly changing from the lone and sinuous melody of the chant to two-, three-, or even four-part music did not please everyone. One critic commented how harmony sullied worship by introducing “lewdness” into church.
“Don’t try to sing that hymn at home; leave it to the professionals at church.”
1300s: Worship in the great Gothic-era cathedrals and abbeys used choirs of paid professionals, “a church within a church,” sealed off by screens from the greater building. Ordinary people generally had no place in the spiritual life of these great buildings, except perhaps in the giving of their finances.
“It’s too loud, and the music drowns out the words.”
1400s: Music became increasingly complex (Gothic sounds for Gothic buildings), prompting criticisms that only the choir was allowed to sing. As reformer John Wycliffe had complained, “No one can hear the words, and all the others are dumb and watch them like fools.”
“They want us to sing in today’s language. Shouldn’t God-talk be more special than that?”
1500s: The new prayerbook, pushed by King Henry VIII of England decreed that all services would be in English, with only one syllable to each note.
“Now they’re putting spiritual words to theater songs that everyone knows.”
1500s: Martin Luther set about reforming public worship by freeing the mass from what he believed to be rigid forms. One way he did this was by putting stress on congregational singing. He used hymns and music already familiar to the majority of people in Germany.
“Okay, men on verse 2, ladies on verse 3, and the organ on verse 4.”
1600s: The organ played an important part in Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and Roman Catholicism, while in the Reformed churches there was much opposition to it. Initially the organ was not used to accompany congregational singing, but had its own voice. As a result, the organist would often play a verse on the congregation’s behalf.
“Our children will grow up confused, not respecting the Bible as an inspired book.”
1700s: Isaac Watts gave a great boost to the controversial idea of a congregation singing “man-made” hymns, which he created by freely paraphrasing Scripture. Charles Wesley paraphrased the Prayer Book, and versified Christian doctrine and experience. Wesley’s songs were said to have had at least a great as influence as his sermons.
“Their leader is just asking for trouble when he says, ‘Why should the devil have all the best music?’”
1800s: William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, used rousing melodies with a martial flavor to set the tone for his Army. He is credited with popularizing the “why should the devil” question referenced above.
“These Christian radio quartets are on a slippery slope. Don’t they realize that the airwaves are the domain of Satan, ‘prince of the power of the air’?” (Eph. 2:2).
1900s: When radio was in its infancy, a handful of Christian pioneers such as Donald Grey Barnhouse and Charles E. Fuller began featuring gospel music and evangelistic teaching over the airwaves. Many Christians initially showed skepticism.
“Christian Rock is an oxymoron. The music of the world must not invade the church.”
1970s: Larry Norman sang, “I want the people to know, That He saved my soul, But I still like to listen to the radio…They say that rock and roll is wrong…I know what’s right, I know what’s wrong and I don’t confuse it: Why should the devil have all the good music…’Cause Jesus is the Rock and He rolled my blues away.” He founded what became known as Contemporary Christian Music… and it is still controversial today.