Don’t feel like reading? Here’s a video instead!
For my readers who may not know what is a “Gig Bag”, it’s a soft case in which you transport your instrument when going to performances, or “gigs”. In this post I will use the term more generally to refer to the container in which musicians carry their performance-related items. Even if you don’t have an actual gig bag, everyone has stuff they must take with them.
As you can imagine, the real estate in a gig bag is very precious. Aside from the instrument, the checklist of essentials includes the music for the show and clothes according to that performance’s dress code. Those are the two things that you mess up once and never again.
Otherwise, there are other things to support how you feel when you go on stage, such as make up, hair stuff, alternate clothing choices, snack, water, etc.
You may (or may not) have something in your gig bag that supports those pesky annoyances that go along with having a body. Our bodies are extensions of our instruments (or, for singers, our bodies are our instruments) so this is not just a peripheral category. Sometimes we need to manage discomforts, nervousness, and attention issues. We also need to do this in a way that doesn’t interfere with the people around us.
Frankincense for Practicing
I discovered Frank’s practicing power totally by accident. I was looking for an oil to support memory and found Rosemary (you can read all about that here). After a bit of searching I found the magic blend that has become the cornerstone of my musical existence: 6 drops each of Frankincense, Rosemary, Wild Orange and Peppermint, combined in a 10ml roller bottle and topped with fractionated coconut oil. I call it “Go Practice”.
My plan was to use this magic blend to provide an aromatic link from practicing to stage, to anchor memory recall under stress. I wasn’t expecting super-human levels of focus and the most productive practicing ever, but that’s what I discovered. Other colleagues who have tried it also report the same thing.
Since then, I have experimented further with various diffuser blends and topical combos to see what works. Invariably the blends that work best are those that contain Frankincense.
Favourite practicing diffuser combinations include:
- 1-2 drops each Frankincense, Wild Orange, Peppermint, Rosemary
- 2 Frank, 2 Lemon, 1 Basil, 1 Douglas Fir
- 1 Frank, 1 Peppermint, 1 Eucalyptus, 2 Lime
Or you can find a blend that you feel drawn to and add a little Frank to help you in the concentration department.
Frankincense for Performing
One of the interesting things about performers is we are great test subjects when it comes to how different variables affect performance anxiety.
We willingly put ourselves into stressful situations all the time, and we do this for years upon years. Because of this, we have a solid sense of how we will respond under stress. When we introduce a variable, we can provide a fairly accurate assessment of how that variable affected our stressful experience.
It is important to remember that everyone’s body works differently. It’s kind of like with medications: when your doctor prescribes something there is usually the caution that it may not work as hoped, and if that happens, you’ll try something else. The same goes for oils, so please remember that as I give my recommendations and describe my experience.
In my experience, my most successful performances using oils are those where I have used Frankincense before going on stage.
On stage with Frankincense, I experience the feeling of observing distractions without becoming sucked into the distraction. I notice the guy jingling the coins in the pocket, or the people whispering, or the cell phone screen out of the corner of my eye, but I don’t dwell on those things. I notice them and let them go.
The other notable important difference between Frankincense and other oils I’ve tried for stage stress is that Frankincense doesn’t take away the excitement of being on stage. We want to keep the edge but we don’t want to be carried away by the physical manifestations of stress either. Frank strikes just the right balance.
Frankincense for Calming the Heck Down
Sometimes life gets the better of us and we get stuck. Feelings of overwhelm can cause problems for stage focus, and sometimes those panicky thoughts can overwhelm us. Add the stress of performance to this and the concentration problem is even worse.
I remember when I discovered that Frankincense was good for anxious feelings. Every night I put a drop of Frankincense in my moisturizer to support my “aging skin” (yes, it’s good for that too). It was one of those days where I hated everything and everyone, and I was stuck in the loop of annoyance. When I applied my Frankincense-infused moisturizer and took a big whiff, all my angst exited along with the next exhale.
It was a big surprise. “Hm,” I thought. “Is Frank good for stress?” I went off to check my resources and sure enough, Frank is supportive for stressful feelings too.
So, when you’re backstage freaking out, pop open a bottle of Frank and take a big sniff. Add a couple of drops to your hand, rub together, cup over your nose and inhale deeply 3 times. Rub the rest on the back of your neck and your chest. One more breath and go slay that performance.
You’ll have to find what works best for you. This is just my personal experience.
Frankincense for Head Tension
If you can get at that head tension right at the beginning before it turns into something major, you may be able to manage it with Frankincense. That’s the key though, you must get on it quickly.
- place a drop on your thumb
- press to the roof of your mouth – way back where the soft palate starts
- hold for 20 seconds
- follow with Peppermint, same procedure
If you do this early and repeat often, each application shaves off just a bit of that pounding. You may need to re-apply every 5 minutes at first, but if you keep at it you may find some relief. Also, you may not, but it’s worth a shot, and there are no side effects.
I used to be so attached to ibuprofen that I always had a bottle with me, and I got nervous if I went out without one. It was no surprise when the jabbing pains in my stomach came along with its use and I had to abandon that habit. Thank goodness I found the Frankincense trick because that, combined with some other topical use oils, means I haven’t had to pop a pill in 2.5 years.
Not only can you (possibly) manage a throbbing head with Frank, but you can avoid side effects, plus boost your focus and diminish stage nerves all at the same time. Again, no promises since everyone is different. But it certainly won’t make anything worse.
Frankincense for General Health
This one is a little more nebulous but I’m including here as a point of interesting information.
Right now, we are hyper-aware of our health, and how our general health can help us stave off possible threats. There has been some promising research on Frankincense’s role in supporting our body’s ability to look after itself.
Here is a short, jargon-filled post from dōTERRA about some preliminary work on tracing Frankincense’s effect on the body: dōTERRA Frankincense Study
I always say you know you’re onto something good when you read a post from dōTERRA that is filled with big words and nebulous descriptions. The reason for this kind of wording in these corporate posts is dōTERRA can’t make promises that an oil will have a specific effect on a physical condition. You can’t say that “x oil will cure your headaches”, for example.
If you’re interested in learning more about Frankincense research just do a quick online search and you’ll find all kinds of things.
My mom had really bad lungs and was allergic to everything. For that reason, I’m very sympathetic to the plight of those who have scent sensitivities.
When you’re involved in rehearsals and performances in groups (when it’s safe to do so) you may have a scent policy in place, for good reason. Please look for an upcoming post I have in the works about dōTERRA’s commitment to purity and why it matters for the essential oil consumer.
These workplace scent-free policies are in place for a reason. “Fragrance” is insidious and appears hidden in so many otherwise-branded “natural” products. The essential oil industry is only loosely regulated, and many labels are misleading.
dōTERRA is committed to the purity of their oils and the stewardship involved in their sourcing practices. You can learn more about it here: Source to You
Other than the crucially important fact that dōTERRA’s oils are always 100% free of any contaminants, the aroma of Frankincense is one that doesn’t seem to bother people. My Catholic husband says it reminds him of Sunday mass. Otherwise its gentle resin aroma doesn’t bring up associations of other synthetic fragrances that tend to trigger reactions.
Since I am 100% pharmaceutical-free (and side-effect-free) I rely heavily on being able to use my oils to manage things like head tension before a performance. Frankincense flies under the radar of the scent police when used on its own. People who are normally bothered by anything with a “scent” don’t seem to notice when I’m wearing Frankincense.
Frankincense Sourcing and Stewardship
This post is already long enough, but I want to leave you with some links for further reading on this important topic. dōTERRA places very high priority on the lives of the people doing the work, and on the environmental impact of their sourcing practices. Here are some links for further reading if this interests you:
Frank for Free
For the month of December 2020, you can get this precious oil for free! Place any order of 200pv and he’s yours.
If you don’t yet have an account just drop me a line, tell me a bit about what you’re looking for and I’ll help you get set up as easily as possible.