August 16, 2004


Some Musicians Are Using Bananas to Combat Stage Fright (Leigh Weimers, 8/09/04, The San Jose Mercury News)

With all the music festivals going on in our part of the world this weekend, don't be surprised to find a number of musicians going bananas backstage. Going for bananas, that is.

Saskia Lane, a spokeswoman for the Music@Menlo chamber music fest, reports that on the catering tables set up to keep musicians well-fed while running from one concert or rehearsal to the next, "one can always find a few bushels of bananas." Why? Many musicians believe that eating the yellow fruit helps calm stage fright, Berry says. There's even some scientific research behind it.

"Musicians are constantly in search of natural alternatives to drugs known as beta-blockers, which help combat stage fright," explains Berry, who laughingly denies lobbying for the banana industry. "Inderal, a heart medication beta-blocker, is commonly prescribed to musicians on the sly. So it's not surprising that bananas, which contain tryptophan (a protein the body converts to serotonin, a relaxant), are the most popular snacks among musicians and performers."

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 16, 2004 9:54 AM

When I had high-blood pressure one of the nice side effects of the Tenormin (Atenolol) that my doctor prescribed was that it supressed the adrenalin-induced "willies". It really helped me stay calm when I had to do public speaking.

I miss it now (HBP is normal). I'll have to go investigate that banana thing.

Posted by: Gideon at August 16, 2004 11:44 AM

Well, there is also 5-HTP available in your health food store, which converts quickly to L-tryptophan, and thence to serotonin.

L-tryptophan itself is unavailable in the US due to nanny-state namby-pamby regulations.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at August 16, 2004 12:30 PM

Hmmmm.... electric bananas.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at August 16, 2004 12:53 PM

Whoops, misspoke - 5-HTP is an intermediate between L-tryptophan and serotonin.

/nerd mode off

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at August 16, 2004 1:11 PM

Dietary sources: tryptophan is particularly plentiful in chocolate, oats, bananas, dried dates, milk, cottage cheese, meat, fish, turkey, and peanuts.

Posted by: PapayaSF at August 16, 2004 2:20 PM

I'll have to remember to eat a chocolate banana split sundae w/peanuts before my next talk.

Posted by: Gideon at August 16, 2004 4:01 PM

Dates, eh?

Then why aren't the Iraqis less turbulent?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 16, 2004 6:52 PM


Because all those dates make you less nervous about doing something stupid?

Posted by: mike earl at August 17, 2004 12:57 PM