Bananas, Performance Anxiety and the Minions

Once-upon-a-time there was a classical guitarist with severe performance anxiety.  Throughout her years as a working musician, she managed to control it through judicious elimination of caffeine on the day of playing and maintaining a regular pre-performance regimen including the use of breathing exercises learned during delivery of her three children. Nothing really worked all that well, uncontrollable shakiness of the hands often threatened to take control of the show.

minion with bananaRecommendations of relief by self-medication using beta-blockers began to sound quite appealing, but her natural aversion to non-organic approaches to dealing with life’s issues held her back from taking the leap on that avenue. Good thing. Most who went that route, acquired other side effects that only compounded the basic performance anxiety problem.

Then one fine day, rumors of the Banana Cure began circulating among other afflicted cgers.
That was one cure this lady cger was willing to investigate further. Coming from a scientific background, she tried her best to set up quasi-experiments to see if the Banana Cure had any merit or if it was purely placebo.

“Have you ever thought of bananas as a natural remedy? New research shows that bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, which is known to help you to relax, improve your mood and cause you to feel happier…Bananas are a natural stress reducer! Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body’s water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.”   Bananas; Nature’s Remedy

Bottom line: consuming a banana an hour before performance, then a second banana about 30 minutes before performance did indeed take the edge off of shakiness in small muscle movements required during precision performance situations. Once that edge was removed, entrance into the creative zone opened up the thrill of performance in the moment – taking control of this lady as a conduit for musical expression.

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Note: A few months ago I stumbled upon this site – validating my personal findings. In a graph showing various methods to help curb performance anxiety, the Banana Cure had a 45% effectiveness rate…

The site’s featured documentary film, Composed, goes into depth on the subject of performance anxiety; offering hope, solutions – but most of all encouragement that those of us who struggle with performance anxiety are not alone…

“The film explores what without exception all of us, performers, have experienced and known well – first, love for our craft and stage, and then performance anxiety at the other end of this beautiful and exciting spectrum. Congratulations to the director John Beder and his team for completing this project and for inviting all of us to a meaningful and necessary conversation.”  Maestro Christoph Eschenbach

14 thoughts on “Bananas, Performance Anxiety and the Minions

  1. Andy

    Reminds me of when I was best man at the wedding for an old school friend of mine. We were sat in his house on the morning of his wedding, in our cravats and waistcoats, relaxed and casual, having a drink. And then the limousine pulled up outside and it was bedlam. “The car’s here!” Rushing around like headless chickens because we couldn’t find our jackets. Finally got them, he out his in and sticking out of his top pocket (with his handkerchief) was a lottery ticket and a banana.
    “Colin!” I said, “what you playing at? It looks like you’ve just been shopping!”
    “The ticket is for good luck and the banana is to calm my nerves.”
    I hurried him outside to the car where he reached for the door handle. I spotted a cardboard label dangling from his sleeve by a piece of cotton. “Colin! Now it looks like you’ve just come out of the changing room!” and cut it off.
    Anyway-everything else went smoothly. The banana worked.

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  2. Anna Scott Graham

    I had never heard this about bananas, fascinating! I don’t have any performances on the horizon, ha ha, but will keep it in mind for future stressful situations. So glad you found a natural remedy, and were able to avoid prescription meds. ;)

    calmcoolcollectedpeace

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  3. Jill

    Wow! This is so interesting, Laura. I knew bananas were good for you, but I’ve never heard this. I’ll be stocking up. I’m happy they helped you.

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  4. L. Marie

    Thank you for this post, and for your honesty about performance anxiety, Laura. I’d like to see that documentary. It’s interesting how you can view a great musical performance and never realize how nervous that person must have been before getting on stage. Whenever I have to speak in public, I get really, really nervous.

    Thanks for the tip about bananas. I didn’t know that they were stress reducers. I love bananas. For breakfast, I like to eat a Chobani yogurt flip which has a banana flavored yogurt and nuts. I like to eat a banana as a snack. I didn’t realize how helpful they are for other reasons!

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