Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy

Nerves and Gigs: Particles or Waves?


Greets Gang! I’ve just returned from an uplifting week teaching at the Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, North Carolina.

It was exhausting, but it feels great to inspire students and be around a large group of people all fired up and excited about music.

The topic of how to deal with nerves in performance up in a few conversations, and somehow I found corollary to quantum physics.

People asked me if I got nervous. Sometimes I do – but these days it’s less and less. I myself wondered, “why am I less nervous than I used to be?”

In quantum physics, there’s a nifty experiment called “the double slit” experiment.

Physicists became awestruck at the fact that when light was shot at photograhic paper one photon particle at a time, it still printed on the paper as if it were a wave, not individual light particles.

What this raised in my mind was the idea that any singular event in our life may look like a “particle” but is really part of a larger “wave.”

If you don’t perform on stage very often, it may feel like a very important singular event (a particle) of your life.

You want everything to be perfect – the sound, your performance, and so on. There’s a lot of pressure there for that one particle of time to be perfect!

When you perform on stage 100 times, you naturally encounter things such as:

  • the sound wasn’t perfect
  • the monitors were not loud enough
  • the guitar was out of tune, the lights blinded me
  • I botched a few notes

But on the positive side you will experience things like:

  • wow that was a great performance
  • they loved it
  • the soundman did a great job
  • everything fell into place just right
  • man it felt really good, etc.
  • I got offered another gig at this one

I am illustrating the following – that over the course of 100 gigs (or any semi large number) you will experience a host of scenarios, ups, downs, good, bad – and by gig number 101 you feel all the gigs to be a “wave” of events.

Each gig is still important, but now each gig is part of of a whole, and you can actually enjoy yourself more because there is less pressure on any single gig “particle” for everything to be perfect.

The same holds true for anything you do regularly whether it’s practicing your instrument, exercising, meditating, eating right, and so on.

The more you do it, the easier it gets because the behavior becomes a “wave” of activity in your life rather than a singular “particle.”


Author: Adam Rafferty

Adam Rafferty. Fingerstyle Guitarist. Recording and Concert Artist. Meditator. Philosopher. Lover of Groove.

4 thoughts on “Nerves and Gigs: Particles or Waves?

  1. Like that one 🙂

  2. Just wanted to say that I’m looking forward to hearing the MJ CD!

  3. Adam, as always, you’re right on the money!

  4. I really like this. This is great thinking. 🙂 PS Looking forward to the cd and the next trip to the UK !!??

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