5 activities to help you overcome stage fright

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5 activities to help you overcome stage fright • CharlotteBax.nl

Hey guys,

It’s been a while!

I’ve been spending more and more time writing and rehearsing songs, which is a good thing: the fact that my creative juices are flowing again means that I’m on the right track with my burnout recovery. I may still nap sometimes, and I still can’t work full time, but this is a great development.

However, writing and playing songs means I have to perform in public. Solo. I never felt the need to do this when I still focused on writing music for films and games, and come on, how hard could it be?

Well, singing songs is not difficult at all.

What’s far more crippling, is stage fright.

I never experienced this, until the moment I had to perform all on my onesies, without the safety of a choir. Funny thing is, when I’m just playing the piano, everything is fine. Add singing to that, and I almost pee my pants.

Why do you have stage fright anyway?

Everyone may encounter stage fright in a slighter or more severe form. If it’s just a little, it might even help you perform better, because you are more focused. However, too much stage fright can really affect your performance in a bad way.

There are a number of reasons you might have stage fright:

1 – You have practiced poorly

When this is the case, you know exactly where your weak points are and what could go wrong. With the added stress of an audience, you are bound to forget that chord progression or lyrics you haven’t studied as hard as the other parts.

2 – You are inexperienced

I mean, who isn’t frightened at least a little for something new?

3 – You are insecure

Not because of poor practising, but because you are not self-confident enough. Is my song interesting enough? Will people like my voice? Is my genre of music to their taste?


The first reason you can take care of by proper practising, and only performing a certain song if you can play it with the utmost ease at home. The other way to overcome your stag fright is by gaining experience, so you get more familiar with how everything works and the reactions of others. Positive feedback means the next time you perform will be a little less scary!

But how can you get more experience in a relatively safe way? Experiences that will most likely turn out positive, without the risk of people thinking too bad of you when you accidentally fuck up? Try this:

1 – Perform for family and trusted friends

This is the safest thing you can do. You family will think you are amazing, even if you fuck up and have to search for your notes or restart your song in the middle. Grandparents will always enjoy their grandchildren playing, and the positive reactions will teach you the valuable lesson that it doesn’t rally matter when you make a mistake.

2 – Perform at a public piano

In the Netherlands, we have public pianos at quite a number of train stations. Playing one or two songs in such a place can be a great start to performing for a public consisting of people you don’t know. You can start by playing at quiet hours, and work your way up to peak hours, when more people will pass. Most people will just walk by, but soms may stop to listen for a while.

This is a great way to play anonymously to train your confidence, but also to get more publicity when you are more secure of yourself and want people to follow you on Youtube or SoundCloud.

3 – Record videos

Recording videos is a great way to experience feedback from strangers from the comfort and safety of your own home. Make it a one-shot video, but you can do as many takes as you wish and choose the best one. Especially when it’s an auditioning video (for a part in musical theatre for example) you can experience the stress of performance, but if it gets too much, you are still in the comfort of your own home.

However, this method will not help you with actual fright for live performing – it is only a way of getting used to performance stress when you have never ever done such a thing before and are just starting out.

4 – Pupil concerts

If you take lessons, whether private or at a music school, your teacher will probably organize one or two concerts in a year, for all pupils to get some performing experience. I can highly recommend participating in this! The audience will be a very safe group of people, mostly parents and maybe some other friends and family. Because a lot of pupils are performing during such an evening, you can also learn from how they behave on the stage and manage their stress.

5 – Open mic nights

A step further is an Open Mic Night, usually at a small pop music venue or a pub. Here you find all sorts of folks: from newbie songwriters to the more experienced artists that look for some exposure. There will probably be someone to tell you how it works and answer questions, for example how many songs you can play, if they allow for cover songs, etc.


Do you know any other performance situations that could help to overcome stage fright? List them in the comments below!

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8 ways GreenBook can help you create music

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8 ways GreenBook can help you create music • CharlotteBax.nl

Hi folks,

I hope you enjoyed the Orchestral Song series!

Today we’re going to talk about something completely different: my favourite notebook! If you think that’s boring, hear me out for a second more: GreenBook isn’t just any notebook, it is a reuseable notebook with whiteboard pages. Bonus: You can order a stack of music pages to add to your GreenBook!

I’ve created a custom GreenBook with lined, dotted and music pages and I’ve been using it for about a month now – and guess what? I’ll never go back to discardable paper!

How to use the GreenBook for managing your music projects

1 – Sketch Scoring

8 ways GreenBook can help you create music • CharlotteBax.nl

Sketch scoring is an important part of my writing process. Not only do I quickly jot down ideas for melodies and chords progressions, I also write down voicings and arrangements when I’m working on a song.

Before, I always threw away the scratch version, but now I can just erase my writing and use the page for another song. It also comes in handy when I make a mistake – editing my melodies and arrangements is infinitely less messy.

2 – Brainstorming lyrics

Whether I’m looking for rhyming words, synonyms, keywords or writing down some sentences that emerged in my brain, I can easily order them by taking out the pages and grouping them in whichever way seems best to me. And again – when I’ve produced the final song and created a lead sheet, I can wipe the pages clean to use them for a new song.

3 – Creating repertoire lists

As a singer, one of my goals this year is to build a repertoire so I can start performing as a solo artist. I have various lists I can easily manage in my GreenBook: songs that already made the list and need some rehearsing, songs that are interesting to study for vocal technique reasons, and songs that are potentially interesting to add to my set list.

4 – Weekly planner

This one speaks for itself. I add my to do’s such as blogging, rehearsing, project tasks and promotion and write down the hours I’ve worked on it.

5 – Recurring tasks

I have some recurring tasks that come back every day, week or month. In my GreenBook I’ve liste them all and I can easily erase all the checked boxes to use those lists over and over.

6 – Project manager

8 ways GreenBook can help you create music • CharlotteBax.nl

One of my favourite parts of the GreenBook is how you can manage your projects the way YOU like! I have a list of all my current projects, and for every project I have a separate page where I break it down into easy tasks, such as recording, editing and promotion. It is a really structured and efficient way of working.

7 – Energy curve sketching

8 ways GreenBook can help you create music • CharlotteBax.nl

Did you read The Addiction Formula by Friedemann Findeisen? Those whiteboard pages com in really handy when sketching his so-called energy curves. Not only for producing new songs, but also for playing all accompanying parts for a cover song. Without a conductor, you need som way to make sure all dynamics are the same in all the right places.

8 – Goals

I’ve listed all my goals in the GreenBook. Not only my monthly an yearly goals, but also what I want to accomplish in 5 years, or during my lifetime, such as releasing the Platonica concept album I dream of and working together with certain artists.

GreenBook features

Shortly summarized, these are the features that make the GreenBook such an incredibly helpful resource to help you managing your musical career:

  • Wipe pages clean and use them over and over again;
  • Take pages out and rearrange them;
  • Customize your GreenBook with blank, lined, grid, dotted or music pages;
  • Available in A5 and A4;
  • Comes with wiping cloth and refillable whiteboard pen.

Where to buy?

8 ways GreenBook can help you create music • CharlotteBax.nl

You can buy a GreenBook in the Dutch webshop of A Green Story. They don’t ship internationally yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as they expand their horizon!

   Click to go to A Green Story

This blog post is written in association with A Green Story. I’ve received free music pages.

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How I reinvented myself as a musicpreneur after a burnout + what you can learn from it

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How I reinvented myself as a musicpreneurs after a burnout + what you can learn from it! • CharlotteBax.nl

Hey guys, today I wanted to talk about something more personal: why I’m *not* a typical composer or songwriter that works 10 hours a day in a studio to produce, produce, produce. How I started to think my own thoughts and making my own decisions, based on what I love to do and not on what you’re supposed to according to societal norms. How I radically changed my view on “making a living” after a burnout. And of course there’ll be some takeaway for you! 🙂

How it all began

During high school, you are pushed to think about what you want to do with your life. How do you want to earn your money? What are your talents? As a teenager, I discovered I loved writing music, and when I discovered you could actually study composition I could make my choice very quickly!

I was raised as a good kid that learned to value your talents and do something with them. It was only logical to go to college, graduate and become independent from my parents. The West European levels of feminism, emancipation and equality made it all a no-brainer: everyone goes to college after high school, everyone is raised to get a job and make money him- or herself.

So, naturally, I wanted to become a musician that earned her money making music. Not a performing artist, because everyone downloads all the songs illegally. No money there. I learned that very quickly. Because my teachers at the time were all over the growing gaming scene, I wanted to become a composer of applied music: in films, games, multimedia artwork.

But, as you can obviously see – that didn’t work out. Something else did, though!


After 7 years of studying, I finally graduated as a composer. Because I wanted to learn something more than just making music, I became a member the board of my student association as the secretary during my last year at college. Half a year after graduating I got a burnout. Looking back, I was using up my last reserves and dragging myself through life for the last 3 years. At least.

Firstly, I only got treated by a psychosomatic physiotherapist: she helped me to relax, so all the muscle and joint pain caused by the built up stress would go away. We hoped that my tiredness would disappear with the pain. In summer, I enjoyed a hiking trip to Norway. It seemed like everything was okay. Until it hit me again in October. I got those chronic fatigue-like symptoms all over again: I couldn’t think or concentrate, I could only do small, mindless tasks and chores and even a short trip to buy some lunch would result in major tiredness and the need to take a long nap.

i identified myself as a spooniepreneur: someone with very limited energy due to a chronic condition (in my case a burnout), that still wanted to put a part of that energy in creating a successful business.

Who am I?

Because of the perseverance of my fatigue and absence of physical failure, the doctor sent me to the psychologist. We discovered that burnout is often caused in people with ADHD and/or autism because of overstimulation. Where normal people automatically and subconsciously filter all stimuli as important or not important, people with a sensory processing disorder don’t have that filter, so they have to consciously deal with every stimulus that enters the brain, which takes up a lot of energy.

This meant I had to drastically alter my lifestyle and the way I work, to make sure I could function as a normal human being in this increasingly hectic, stressful, noisy and busy society. I started to ask myself a lot of questions:

  • What are my talents?

  • What are my weaknesses?

  • What are the parts of music business that I love?

  • What are the parts of music business that cause overstimulation?

  • How can I simplify my life to avoid overstimulation and burnout?

  • How can I create a business in which I optimally use my talents, but don’t get overstimulated?

  • What thoughts are holding me back right now?


What really helped me were some American entrepreneurship bloggers, in particular Melyssa Griffin and Regina Anaejionu. They showed me there are lots of new possibilities in this digital era – I didn’t have to settle for some traditional way of making a living that didn’t suit my situation.

To realize that – and to draft plans on how to make digital entrepreneurship work for me – was incredibly uplifting.

Create the best working conditions for YOU

I won’t bore the hell out of you with all the answers to the questions above. But I can tell you from experience, that when you answer these questions for yourself – and then I mean answering them completely honest, no holding back – it is a great step to creating the best working conditions in which you will definitely thrive.

You just need to have the guts to do these three things:

  1. Be honest with yourself;

  2. Don’t give a damn about what other people think;

  3. Make radical changes that make life work for YOU, not the other way round.


We live in a world where traditional ways of working and living get less and less important, especially in the creative sector. With the coming of the internet, you have tons of new possibilities to make a living in a way that suits YOU. I’ve listed a few already some times ago:

   5 different streams of income for musicians

Or you can check out my epic free ebook:

   14 ways of making a living online as a musicpreneur

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Why I totally overhauled my Patreon page + some worksheets so you get it right the first time!

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Why I totally overhauled my Patreon page + some worksheets so you get it right the first time • CharlotteBax.nl

So here we are. Just a month into 2017 and I already changed my musicpreneurship goals completely. In January, I thought it was wise to focus on producing more music and less on blogging. This because the first is obviously more of a moneymaker, right? And I also had quite an original take on Patreon, which I desperately wanted to work. I thought I finally had made all the right decisions.

Boy, I was wrong!

Let’s start at the beginning.

What is Patreon in the first place?

Patreon is a crowdfunding website. Not a website like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, where you raise a large amount of money to fund one big-ass project. No, Patreon is a website where dedicated fans support their favourite artists / bloggers / youtubers by tipping them a small amount per creation. Let’s say, a dollar for a blog post.

Creating content – whether it’s youtube videos, in-depth blog posts, paintings, music, etc – not only costs vast amounts of time, but also resources. Creator create because they love to share their skills, knowledge and experience with the world. Some purely for aesthetics, others to inspire or educate.

Patreon lets those loyal fans and followers support their favourite creators in a very low-key, accessible way that basically fits anyone. For example, I support Peter Hollens because I totally love his cover songs on Youtube, Joe Brewer because I learn a lot about long-distance hiking from him, and Sophie from the blog Naoki.nl because she does a lot of research on cruelty free make-up and eco approved clothing brands.

On my own Patreon page, you can support me by donating a dollar for every in-depth musicpreneurship blog post, such as a tutorial, a list of tips or a blogpost with a useful download.

   Click here to grab your worksheets!

What I did totally wrong

When I first created my Patreon page a few months ago, my priority was to do something with regularly creating a music production. I wanted to do something original. So I created a “sheet music subscription”: singers and conductors could support me and receive a piece of music every few weeks.

Why did it fail?

1 – It didn’t suit my audience

Before – and with that, I mean “technically almost the entire lifespan of my blog” – I didn’t have a focused audience. I’ve been all over the place, beginning with just updates about my musical activities, and now settling on quality blog posts about creating music and musicpreneurship. My audience are the people who read my blog posts, who want to learn about this.

My Patreon page was focused on choral singers and conductors. Can you spot them in my audience? No? Me neither. Maybe by accident one of you is a singer of conductor who wants to learn more about musicpreneurship.

I love writing vocal music. But I’ve never focused my blog on it. In other words: there would be no support for a sheet music subscription service (man, the idea just starts getting more and more idiotic) with my audience!

2 – I wanted to create something without thinking about my audiences needs

Now I’m graduated, I finally feel like I’m free to write whatever I want. Vocal music. Choral music. I wanted to poop out another piece of sheet music every month. Like a machine. I wanted to create an affordable way to sing new music every month. I was so delighted with the originality of my idea, that I didn’t even consider if people would actually need it.

Big mistake.

There are some living composers who are actually being performed once in a while. But new music from living composers is expensive as hell. My mom performed the requiem of John Rutter once. An immensely beautiful, light and angelic piece of music. Every choir member had to buy the vocal book for themselves, which wasn’t cheap, I assure you. Copyrights and stuff. The orchestral score for accompaniment could only be hired. And then we’re not even talking performance rights…

So, what do you do as a conductor or a singer, when you want to add something new to your repertoire? You check your favourite pieces, or you ask your choir for their faves. Big chance the composer’s already dead for more than 70 years and some enthusiast has scanned and uploaded their complete works on IMSLP or CPDL. Free sheet music, here you have it! And every year, there’s a new bunch of composers crossing that 70 year boundary. A whole new world of music to discover. No need for a “sheet music subscription service” with music from just one single composer, however affordable it is.

Don't make the same mistakes I made when you set up your #patreon page! Click To Tweet

The choices and changes that I made

When I finally saw the light and realized that trying to monetize a service with no demand through an audience that wasn’t even near the perfect fit, I started to ask some questions and really rethink the concept of Patreon. What was I trying to achieve? How could I make it work?

1 – What am I offering my audience at the moment?

I never thought of my blog as a thing in itself. I saw it as a way to drive traffic to my products. But in reality, it is a wonderful place with quality content on music creation and making a living as a musicpreneur in the digital era. I’m putting a lot of effort in it: creating blog posts, promoting on social media, and conjuring up useful PDF downloads. All for free (or, well, in exchange for your email address). That’s quite a lot!

2 – Why would anyone support that?

My blog is really focused on teaching and inspiring. I want to add value to your life and career. And I could imagine that, if you enjoy these creations, you would like to tip a dollar for such a blogpost. Just to let the author know you appreciate the hard work and that it has meaning to you.

For example, I support a few people on Patreon myself: Peter Hollens with his awesome a capella videos, Joe Brewer who taught me a lot about thru-hiking before I set out on my own multi-day hiking trip, and Sophie from the Dutch blog Naoki.nl because she puts a lot of effort in researching cruelty free cosmetics and eco approved clothing brands for her audience.

They are all bloggers / vloggers that I immensely enjoy. I support them on Patreon because I find it important to show my gratitude and give something back when someone adds value to my life.

I know for sure that there’s someone out there just as happy with my content, and just as sure that if you’re a content creator, you can make Patreon work for you, too.

Ask yourself these two important questions when setting up your own #patreon page. Click To Tweet

Get it right the first time, download the worksheets!

Now of course this Patreon page overhaul wasn’t an overnight project. A lot of thinking and brainstorming preceded it.

To help you set up your own Patreon page without making all the mistakes I made, I created some sweet worksheets for you. Download them, print them, make yourself a pot of tea, grab a pencil, you know the drill 😉

   Click here to grab your worksheets!

All ready and set? It would be really lovely of you to set up your Patreon page through my referral link. This way, we can both earn a bonus when more than 30 people become your Patron in the first month.

Support me on Patreon!

5 myths your music teachers tell you that you need to ignore

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5 myths your music teachers tell you that you need to ignore • CharlotteBax.nl

When I was still studying, I had numerous teachers. One for songwriting, one for production, economics, orchestration, music theory… I learned a lot from them, but they also told me some stuff that – looking back – is not true. At all.

Some things they say really stem from the system they have to work with here in the Netherlands: if your learning pace is slower than 4 years for a bachelor in music, you suddenly become very expensive to the school and the government. So they want to get you ready for your graduation in precisely those 4 years. This is far from ideal for a lot of students: everyone is different and leans at their own pace!

And of course there is the industry: the music industry is highly competitive, quite saturated, you don’t necessarily need a music education and in the digital era it is becoming more and more difficult to earn your living in traditional ways. So they teach you what they’ve experienced and works best for THEM.

But this doesn’t have to be the best way for YOU!

In this blog post, I will tell you about some myths your music teachers will tell you and how I feel about that. You have to decide for yourself what will work for you.

Myth no.1 – You have to be as gifted as all the others in your class

No, I’m not as good an orchestrator as Chris, or as good with and equalizer and compressor as Tom. But I have other qualities: I’m good at music theory and writing things down so they’re comprehensible for other people. I’m good at writing vocal music. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and they show in different situations (or classes).

Also, everyone learns at their own pace. I still remember some of my friends who had severe difficulties with reading music even in their third year, but it was something I learned as a young kid. Maybe I wasn’t ready to learn some particular mixing skills 4 years ago, but I could be now. Same for the other guys in my year – they are probably still learning as much as I do right now!

Myth no. 2 – You need to work in a certain part of the industry, or you’ll never make a living

When I was still in college (man, that sounds like I’m ancient, even though it’s only 2 years ago!), more than one teacher advised us to specialize in interactive game audio: this was the upcoming new thing! I found it quite interesting and really wanted to make a proper living for myself, so I turned that way. I did my internship at a game company, I did a minor in composition for games, I even tried to build my own business around it.

But it didn’t work for me.

You know why not? My heart wasn’t in it. I’m not a gamer. I find the mechanics of interactive audio incredibly fascinating, but it’s not what I love to do. I want to write vocal music and sweet piano lullabies and songs that I love. I had literally ditched my own roots to become someone I could never be. Big failure.

At the moment, I create stock music and vocal sheet music. Two ways I can just write what I want – and sell it using the right marketing tools. I’m earning more and I’m happier doing it.

Myth no. 3 – You need to master every aspect of your trade

Why on earth should you do that? Really? I mean, it’s good to know how things work and have some experience with it, so you actually know what you want and can direct others. But why would you do something yourself if there is someone who can do it infinitely better and loves doing it?

For example, I can mix a pretty decent demo song. But for the real deal I will definitely hire someone. I’m a writer, not a mixer. And by working together you can support each other 🙂

Myth no. 4 – Creating stock music is a last resort for composers who can’t land a decent job

Maybe if you’re good at writing stuff for others. Maybe if you don’t have the skills, time or motivation for marketing and promoting your products. But I think it’s certainly no last resort! I found it a great way to make a living from music for introverts, musicians with autistic treats or people who just find it difficult to work with other people, or who prefer to work alone.

Especially in this digital era, the possibilities are endless for those who once couldn’t reach their full potential due to these character traits.

Myth no. 5 – If you want to make it in music industry, work has to be your first priority

Not everyone wants to be the next John Williams or Hans Zimmer. Of course, they are great composers and I really look up to them. And yes, I know some of my fellow students have already landed epic jobs in Hollywood, or have even won awards! But not everyone needs to be that ambitious. It’s not a bad thing to just want a regular income, or even a side hustle while your partner provides for your family.

One of the guys in my year got a job in Hollywood and I know what he had to give up: he had to leave his family and his girlfriend behind, he worked 10 to 12 hours a day and basically didn’t have a social life. I would never even be able to cope with that!

Yes, it’s true that you have to make work a priority it you want to be the number one – but there only can be just one… And it’s totally fine if that’s not your top priority and that you settle for something a little more comfortable.


What things did your teachers tell you, which you later found out to be outdated or irrelevant?

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