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Anxiety about performing/exams. Any suggestions? #1220238
06/20/09 06:43 PM
06/20/09 06:43 PM
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 214
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pianogal37 Offline OP
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I would really appreciate guidance about performing. I last played in a concert 20 yrs ago, Fantasie-Impromptu. It was a bloodbath, I was anxious, flubbed the coda, and swore I would never play in public again. Chopin would have been horrified by my performance.
Anxiety was also a big problem for my Grade 10 piano exam, my hands would shake, and I consequently would make errors, and only passed the third time I took it (20 yrs ago). I'm back taking Gr 10 lessons again. I want to play and do well, but I am very anxious. Even the prospect of playing for a small group is scary. I plan to do the performer's ARCT (because I've done the theory for it and learning the teacher's pedagogy would be tons of work). I don't plan to do music as a career, just for fun.


Bach French Suites No. 6, Allemande and Gigue, Beethoven's Pathetique, Chopin Nocturne 72/1, Fantaisie-Impromptu, Debussy's First Arabesque, Takacs Toccata Op 54, Rachmaninoff Etude-Tableau 33/8.
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Re: Anxiety about performing/exams. Any suggestio [Re: pianogal37] #1220254
06/20/09 07:07 PM
06/20/09 07:07 PM
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Cantabile_affettuo Offline
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Hi Pianogal,

There are many topics on this forum dealing with this exact topic. Here's one you might want to check out: www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/1214285/

Hope this helps! Many pianists are affected by performance anxiety, so you're not alone.

Re: Anxiety about performing/exams. Any suggestio [Re: Cantabile_affettuo] #1220369
06/21/09 12:26 AM
06/21/09 12:26 AM
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London, UK (though if it's Aug...
keyboardklutz Offline
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Check out Andy Evans on TV:

He's also written a lot, google him.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

Re: Anxiety about performing/exams. Any suggestio [Re: keyboardklutz] #1220466
06/21/09 09:58 AM
06/21/09 09:58 AM
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Toronto, Canada
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musiclady Offline
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I used to suffer really badly from performance nerves even a few years ago, and a combination of anti-anxiety and anti-depressants drugs have worked wonders for me.

Meri


Clarinet and Piano Teacher based out of Toronto, Canada.Web: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com
Re: Anxiety about performing/exams. Any suggestio [Re: musiclady] #1220492
06/21/09 11:10 AM
06/21/09 11:10 AM
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cardguy Offline
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As one who suffers with a revved up nervous system (genetics),I can identify completely. Meds definitely work, but they're usually not a great long term solution. Densensitization is very effective, drug free, and works with your own mind and body to effect positive, long term changes.

It's also simple, although it does take work. In a nutshell, get yourself utterly relaxed,usually by means of deep breathing and other techniques, and then imagine the situation that makes you anxious, usually in stages. Eventually, this will have real life effects, making you much less nervous while playing in public for example. If you work at it, say twice a day for a week or two, you should notice a difference.

If interested, do a search as I gave you just the bare bones...
Best of luck.

CG

Re: Anxiety about performing/exams. Any suggestio [Re: cardguy] #1220520
06/21/09 12:05 PM
06/21/09 12:05 PM
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BruceD Offline
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No one has yet suggested - although I'm sure it comes up in other threads already linked to this one - that one good possible "treatment" for performance anxiety is to perform. For most of us, the more one performs, the less stressful the performance situation becomes.

So, long before your exam, take as many opportunities as possible to play before friends and family, people whom you know and who will support you. Then try to branch out to include others whom you do not know so well. Eventually, it may even come to the point where you look forward to performing because you have something to offer to your audience that you want to share.

Regards,


BruceD
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Estonia 190
Re: Anxiety about performing/exams. Any suggestio [Re: BruceD] #1220616
06/21/09 03:10 PM
06/21/09 03:10 PM
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pianogal37 Offline OP
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Thanks to everyone for the great ideas.


Bach French Suites No. 6, Allemande and Gigue, Beethoven's Pathetique, Chopin Nocturne 72/1, Fantaisie-Impromptu, Debussy's First Arabesque, Takacs Toccata Op 54, Rachmaninoff Etude-Tableau 33/8.
Re: Anxiety about performing/exams. Any suggestio [Re: BruceD] #1220622
06/21/09 03:16 PM
06/21/09 03:16 PM
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London
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Drunk3nFist Offline
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I'd go with BruceD. Find ways to play in front of people, whether you know them or not. This builds your confidence. Its also good to displace your anxiety on the reason that you are playing because you enjoy playing, instead of reminding yourself of the pressure of the exam.


Ravel - Une Barque Sur l'Ocean
Kapustin - Etude No. 7
Bach/Busoni - Chaconne
Re: Anxiety about performing/exams. Any suggestio [Re: Drunk3nFist] #1220705
06/21/09 06:17 PM
06/21/09 06:17 PM
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Toronto, Canada
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musiclady Offline
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Oh forgot to add: Ever since I was barely more than a rookie musician in my early years of high school, I always wanted to perform when I could but even a lot of performing experience did not help me and the problems actually got worse over the years, until I started taking medication and doing therapy with a psychotherapist. The way I performed before therapy and meds and now is like night and day. I have had a number of really good performances in the time since I started meds and therapy, and even my worst performances in recent years are not too bad.

Meri


Clarinet and Piano Teacher based out of Toronto, Canada.Web: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com
Re: Anxiety about performing/exams. Any suggestio [Re: musiclady] #1220732
06/21/09 07:27 PM
06/21/09 07:27 PM
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piano bench, usually
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heidiv Offline
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I agree with BruceD. The more practice you have in front of people, the better. One thing that helps me is my monthly performance group. We gather in a member's home once a month and just play for each other. There's no critique; just friendly support. If you're not already involved in a group, consider starting one. It's great fun smile

Re: Anxiety about performing/exams. Any suggestio [Re: heidiv] #1220807
06/21/09 11:27 PM
06/21/09 11:27 PM
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Cantabile_affettuo Offline
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I've actually just had an idea when watching this video. A lot of what we experience during stage fright, as stated, is due to our body's response to adrenaline (pumping heart, trembling fingers, shaking foot on the pedal). I am very sensitive to caffeine and get some of these symptoms if I drink a really strong coffee. Perhaps it would be beneficial for us to practice performing after drinking some strong coffee to try to replicate our body's response, and therefore we can train ourselves to perform even with the adrenaline pumping. What do you all think? I'm going to try this tomorrow and I will report my results back here.

Re: Anxiety about performing/exams. Any suggestio [Re: Cantabile_affettuo] #1220814
06/22/09 12:16 AM
06/22/09 12:16 AM
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keyboardklutz Offline
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Yes, definitely the way forward to try and simulate the physical symptoms. Anybody else have ideas? Play on the edge of a precipice? Arrange for a bully to stand behind you? (I know some piano teachers who could help you there) Recording yourself goes someway, but I'm sure there must be alternatives.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

Re: Anxiety about performing/exams. Any suggestio [Re: keyboardklutz] #1221062
06/22/09 01:04 PM
06/22/09 01:04 PM
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piano bench, usually
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heidiv Offline
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There was actually another thread on this topic about a month ago, and I posted a somewhat crazy solution that has helped me. I noticed that while performing, my heart was racing and I was a little sweaty, just like when exercising. So now when I'm preparing for a performance, I'll jog in place or do jumping jacks for a couple of minutes to get the heart rate up, then sit down and try to play through it. It closely mimics the reaction I have in front of an audience. I've found that accepting the adrenaline rush instead of trying to fight it actually makes me (a bit) calmer.


Re: Anxiety about performing/exams. Any suggestio [Re: heidiv] #1221079
06/22/09 01:57 PM
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I tried my method this morning while recording myself. It certainly simulated the trembling hands aspect, but lacks the mental nervousness that a real performance would induce. My playing did not sound any worse than if I didn't drink coffee, though...maybe my playing is just solid enough to withstand it. If someone finds their performance really suffers from trembling hands, this would definitely be one way to practice overcoming it.

Re: Anxiety about performing/exams. Any suggestio [Re: heidiv] #1221108
06/22/09 02:37 PM
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cardguy Offline
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Of course, Bruce is right.It will work for most, eventually. The only drawback is that there is, to the extent one feels anxious, a price to be paid. In cases of extreme anxiety, one could argue it's not worth it.

I had a fear of public speaking so intense that this approach was not practical. I tried many times, and ultimately realized it was too costly.

I've no idea whether OP is in a similar situation, but if so I'd argue for the visualization/relaxation route. In any case, there's no reason not to combine the two.


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