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I understand that at least 20% of us use (or have used) Beta Blockers (especially Propranolol) to achieve a better performance... I´ve never used them, but would like to try. Nerves are a bit of a problem with me, and anything that could help now and then I would welcome. Where do I get them?

Thanks crazy

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I've never used these...the idea in itself makes me nervous.
I would have thought that it would be better to try to understand the cause of your nerves (poor preparation,the results of bad teaching, shyness etc.) and take steps to try to overcome the problems rather than resort to drugs.

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I would rather suggest to you some more natural alternatives like taking a complex vitamin B supplement, as well as a magnesium supplement...perhaps some bach flower remedy....omit all caffeine...

and of course address the psychological reasons as to why your nerves intimidate you during performance.

Beta blockers are a controversial issue in the performing world...i know people who swear by them, however many have said that those performers lack 'zest' while on stage.

I don't know...It's never been something i've been into....like the previous poster...the idea of them makes me a little nervous too! lol. Guess I like to go the natural route smile

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> I've never used these...the idea
> in itself makes me nervous.

smile

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Uh Oh, performance enhancing drugs! And here I thought it was only baseball. Guess piano playing IS a sport.

smile


Kenny A. Chaffin
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Originally Posted by kennychaffin
Uh Oh, performance enhancing drugs! And here I thought it was only baseball. Guess piano playing IS a sport.

smile


Before the days of pill-popping some performers used to resort to "Dutch Courage."
It's said that Rachmaninov used to regularly fudge a passage in his Paganini Rhapsody that Moisewitsch played perfectly. Moisewitsch's advice to Rachmaninov was "A glass of creme de menthe" taken before the performance. Rachmaninov took the remedy and never fouled-up the passage again...but, of course, it wasn't the creme de menthe per se that helped but rather the psychological prop it provided.

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Quote
Uh Oh, performance enhancing drugs! And here I thought it was only baseball. Guess piano playing IS a sport.

I've lost all interest in sports, focusing on music in general and piano in particular. With this revelation I need to drop music and pick up bridge, or knitting, or whatever.

Wait, this flash just in! At the annual Knitting Competition held by the Countries' Alliance of Knitting Enthusiasts (CAKE) all three of the top finishers were found to be on beta-blockers. The astonished Supreme Commander of Competition said that the situation will be reviewed but it unlikely that the competition will see another day! His final remark (off microphone) was "Let them eat CAKE".grin


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I can see "Tchaikovsky Medals" being taken away. Disgraced pianists. Oh the shame, the shame.

smile



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I took em once (20 mg) about half an gour before going on stage, and I was still nervous as heck, all shaking and trembling and my heart beating so fast and loud it felt as if it was going to break through my chest. Of course, I wasn´t 100% prepared for performance that time, so it may have been that. Just kind of funny how the "controversial drug" had ABSOLUTLEY NO EFFECT.

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lol...while I was doing my Masters in Piano Perf...I had a (get this), a sports psychologist. All of us doing the Masters did, as appointed by our university.

I had Dr. Ann Quinn...the same sports psychologist that coached Aussie tennis legends, Pat Rafter and Pat Cash.

Well, she documented every upcoming performance for me, and then planned out, in preparation for them and in itinery form, my daily, hourly and even 'by minute' moves in the days leading up to a performance, my diet, piano practice regime, relaxation strategies, the music I'd listen to for inspiration, natural supplements, herbal teas that would assist my body, my times of meditation and reflection, social activities, exercise, reading material, affirmations, and she was 'on call' 24hrs a day...She was awesome.

Dr Quinn told me that many in the field of elite athletes, consider classical musicians on par with them, as in the demand for excellence in a high pressure situation is similar, not to mention the fatigue on our emotional, psychological, and physical bodies.

But I still never had the nerve to take Beta blockers...Dr Quinn advised against them....elite athletes never take them apparently, as they take the 'edge' off of the game and one's performance potential and reflexes.

Last edited by lotuscrystal; 03/27/09 06:32 AM.
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First of all, Beta Blockers of any kind are only acquired by prescription. They are used, legitimately, to treat cardiac arrhythmias and hypertension by blocking the receptors that interact with adrenaline. The fact that one might attain them on the "black" market, so to speak, is a very dangerous thing. When people begin to do things like self medicating with powerful drugs, without knowing the proper dosing, frequency and possible side effects, they are playing with fire. There is definitely something to be said, however, for the placebo effect. One other thing that I am curious about, for those who say they were extremely nervous due to being unprepared....why would one commit to performing publicly if they were not ready to?


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Lotus...

It would be nice if you could share what some of those minute by minute moves were/are since we don't have a Dr Quinn here to share!

Please.

smile



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Dang I was so busy reading that I almost missed taking mine. smile

High blood pressure, ya know.

Really.

smile


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Maybe it's a generational thing, but the notion of resorting to the use of a prescription drug so someone can play a performance and not have their hands shake makes me really sad. Even a little alcohol can fuzz your brain; that's why driving a car "under the influence", something a lot less difficult than playing a Rachmaninoff concerto, is illegal.

Not to criticize in any way, but really curious: why do something, in this case, performing music in public, if it makes you so uncomfortable that you have to drug yourself to do it?

I'm not a medical doctor, but I do know, having taken different beta blockers at various times for essential hypertension (luck of the draw in the gene pool...), that they are SERIOUSLY powerful medicine. When you take one, you are dickering with how fast and how hard your heart can pump in response to various stimuli. Some beta blockers can also cause depression(!), because they act across the brain barrier; others don't. It takes several days, usually, for your body to adjust to a specific dose of a beta blocker; you can risk a stroke or a heart attack if you stop abruptly.

My two cents: it's just not worth the risk to take a beta blocker to help with performance anxiety. If you suffer such anxiety and still want to perform, see a psychiatrist - they arguably know what to prescribe for anxiety better than another type of MD that is not a specialist.
===============================================
Continuing to think about this issue, I'm reminded of a science fiction novel I read, Dancing on Air, by Nancy Kress. In that book she muses on the societal implications of taking performance enhancing drugs to improve athletic and artistic performance by extending the notion to the extreme: using genetic engineering for that purpose! Just think - why struggle to deal with octaves when it could have been possible to have been born with genes to give you hands like Dinu Lipatti, the nervous system of Vladimir Horowitz, the speed of a Martha Argerich?

Just think how high the level of competition playing could be in that kind of world. Personally, it makes me shudder.

Peace to all whatever your personal feelings and decisions on these topics.


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Alright, I'll jump in with my own experience.

I take 2 different drugs for a minor heart condition, one of which is propranolol. For a while, I only took the other drug, but I mentioned to my doctor that high stress times (particularly performances, public speaking, etc.) were always much worse. He gave me 20 mg of propranolol to use for performing, etc situations and to take otherwise as needed when the condition worsened and I needed something to help out the base drug.

First performance on beta blockers was GREAT! No more leg shaking on the pedal, my hands weren't shaking, I didn't have the overwhelming adrenaline rush, and best of all, my heart was normal. It never got rid of any mental chatter, so even though my body wasn't "racing," my mind still was. I would have to say during this time, that if I were to be miraculously cured of my heart condition, I'm not sure I would quit taking BB for performance.

Side effects are mostly low. If I had to take them for several days in a row, it would be a bit of a downer, and a couple hours after taking them, I'd feel sort of "fuzzy." But I never noticed much difference in my actual performances that I could chalk up to being "less exciting because I took beta blockers."

Now, I am on the extended release of propranolol because it seems to make my condition under better control. No need for the short acting ones anymore before performance because it is always in my blood stream. At the same time I started taking them, I switched teachers. In the last 2 months or so, I have noticed that my confidence level has gone up significantly (my teacher has worked with me about performing and playing a lot), to the point that I would sometime try performing without my beta blockers (except that I need to take them all the time). But the psychological aspect has gotten much better, and I wonder now how that would affect me physically when I perform.

Sorry for such a long post. In short, my current advice is that I don't think asking your doctor for a low-dose (10 or 20 mg) would hurt anything. It might even help you. Such a low dose taken occasionally isn't going to have much side effect for most people, and if it helps a musician share his love for his craft when he has otherwise crippling performance anxiety, then why not?

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Originally Posted by Seeker
.....I'm reminded of a science fiction novel I read, Dancing on Air, by Nancy Kress. ...


I LOVE Nancy Kress!

Great Novel BTW as are most of her's. She has some amazing insights into human society and psychology and science fiction provides a perfect avenue to explore them.



Kenny A. Chaffin
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Originally Posted by Seeker
Maybe it's a generational thing, but the notion of resorting to the use of a prescription drug so someone can play a performance and not have their hands shake makes me really sad. Even a little alcohol can fuzz your brain; that's why driving a car "under the influence", something a lot less difficult than playing a Rachmaninoff concerto, is illegal.

Not to criticize in any way, but really curious: why do something, in this case, performing music in public, if it makes you so uncomfortable that you have to drug yourself to do it?



Too true about the alcohol! In my student days I was down to play Jeux d'eau and Alborada del Gracioso after the interval at a posh charity do. It was only a glass of champagne and, while it never led a poor girl into sin on this occasion, it certainly led a poor boy to play Jeux d'eau as if he'd fallen into the fountain and who then had to make every effort to wake himself up in order to play the Alborada. Since then, I've always been strictly teetotal, on concert days at least.

I think you're being a little hard about the nervousness suffered by the OP, though. Paderewski suffered from nerves so badly that he often had to be literally pushed out on to the platform. I've heard of one famous actor who is physically sick from nerves before going onstage...but the audience is never aware of the fact, of course.
Again, on a personal note, in my late teens I used to literally shake when playing in public. Luckily I was able to come to terms by the age of around 20 with my musical, and personal, problems by thinking them through myself without recourse to either doctors or drugs...although the use of the latter was suggested to me by well-meaning peers. I'm glad I never had recourse to them.

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Originally Posted by LaValse

> I've never used these...the idea
> in itself makes me nervous.:)


Okay, THAT was just funny!!!

Sorry, continue . . .


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I prefer the use of good music to improve a performance.

grin




Beta Blockers? Bananas? Alcohol? A friend of mine swears that cannabis gives his performances more depth...

Not for me (at least during a performance cool )

Last edited by L'echange; 03/27/09 10:34 AM.

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I've experimented with various drugs to enhance performance. I don't recommend it to anyone, but I did get some interesting results. Keep in mind, I never took anything dangerous. For me, I think it's good to try different things, find out what works for what. But I've never had problems with addiction, which is why I would never recommend it to anyone else.

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