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#1210809 - 06/03/09 03:38 AM Helping Out with Stage Fright
trillingadventurer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
I have an adult student who can play her song perfectly during lessons and can even play in front of people as long as it is not a formal engagement(Behind the scenes at dinner). She has tried playing for friends first (which goes well), duets with me during recital (which also goes well), and a number of other approaches. She has been with me for about 3 years or so. I have posted this concern before and I utilized everyone's wonderful suggestions. But every single performance she gets up on stage and pretty much falls apart. (Making mistakes that she never made before, flubbing the ending, etc) Tomorrow is our first lesson since the recital. What can I say to encourage her? Has anyone had a student like this before? Did they eventually over come it? I have also struggled with my own nerves but I have learned to simply not worry about it any more. I also have a very supportive musician husband who told me "You cannot get rid of the butterflies but you can teach them to fly in formation."
M. Katchur

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#1210824 - 06/03/09 05:13 AM Re: Helping Out with Stage Fright [Re: trillingadventurer]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
This interview with Andy Evans may help: http://www.youtube.com/isstip
In fact you/she can chat to him there or at ISSTIP'S forum.
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.

#1210877 - 06/03/09 08:24 AM Re: Helping Out with Stage Fright [Re: trillingadventurer]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: trillingadventurer
I also have a very supportive musician husband who told me "You cannot get rid of the butterflies but you can teach them to fly in formation."

Very good, I like that!!
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

#1210957 - 06/03/09 10:53 AM Re: Helping Out with Stage Fright [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1502
Loc: Australia
I was once advised to imagine the audience was sitting there, naked.

#1212492 - 06/05/09 10:03 PM Re: Helping Out with Stage Fright [Re: R0B]
Musictuary Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 169
Loc: Aurora, Illinois, USA
Originally Posted By: R0B
I was once advised to imagine the audience was sitting there, naked.

Now that would give me real stage fright!

I'm also an adult piano student who probably would have the same issues as your student if placed in a similar situation. Some of the solutions that I've seen for this issue are:

Knowing the music thoroughly;
Practicing to perform for the event (mentally as well as physically as in a rehearsal for the event).

A while back I started to read "The Inner Game of Music." The author deals with issues such as stage fright amongst other topics in his book. This book may be a helpful resource for your student.

#1212528 - 06/05/09 11:20 PM Re: Helping Out with Stage Fright [Re: Musictuary]
pianoobsession Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 109
Loc: Hot and Humid Houston Texas
I never found any book very helpful for me. And no matter what I did mentally didn't help either. I could know the music inside and out and still wouldn't be able to make it work. The ONLY thing I found is something similar to what psychologists use...immersion or something like that. You go to a place that is usually used for performance and you play alone. Then you play with one person in the room until it feels ok. Then you add another person and keep adding one by one (you obviously need a lot of friends) until you are comfortable with the whole process. That's the only thing that worked for me. It took several tries...don't get me wrong it didn't happen all in one day. It took many many weeks of doing the same thing and adding more people....but if I haven't totally confused you, you might try something like this. I had it bad...trust me. It's similar to what they do for people that hate spiders or being around people. Sometimes it takes drastic measures but it sure is worth it. Good luck with your student....being an adult student is hard!!

#1212537 - 06/05/09 11:35 PM Re: Helping Out with Stage Fright [Re: pianoobsession]
trillingadventurer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
Yes, this is technically called systematic de-sensitization. Thanks for reminding me of this. Before the next recital I will have her play her song at the hall for me, then add another person and another and another. I will also announce her as if it were the recital. This should work! I'll keep you all posted come December.
M. Katchur

#1247820 - 08/12/09 09:30 AM Re: Helping Out with Stage Fright [Re: trillingadventurer]
Phil Best Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/18/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Fulham, London, UK
Hi there,

I have an approach called Musically Fluent that may be of some use to your student with stage fright.

The rhythmic awareness training that students do with Musically Fluent has almost magical properties for improving confidence, memory and expressiveness. To think of it NLP terms, you enter a state of flow or peak performance. By shifting your focus away from correct execution – a real confidence killer! – and more towards engaging with your innate rhythmic energy, you find your true voice, your unique style. Memory in particular is affected by rhythm. We say a phone number in rhythm and it is much easier to remember than just a list! Rhythm is also curiously linked to intention. Rhythm is flexible and yet authoritative, and that feeling of certainty, of “just choosing” gives you power. Clearly, self-consciousness and inhibition block rhythm but the converse is equally true; by tuning into rhythm, you become spontaneous, free and sure of your intentions. You are more “in the moment” and the kind of rhythmic awareness training that you do with Musically Fluent gives you a sort of peripheral auditory sense. You know where – or rather when you are – in the flow. Knowing when and knowing what are inextricably linked. Mistakes matter much less when you are tuned into the rhythmic matrix in this way. In the traditional method of learning music, a mistake can feel like a rope suddenly appearing across your feet as you walk along, tripping you up and putting you face down on the floor. When you are flowing with the rhythm, it does not feel like a rope but like a flimsy thread. You notice it but you just play the next thing and the next without being affected by the slip.

If you think all this sounds unattainable… if your student thinks that she has been trying to do this for years and failing… or if she thinks that she just does not have much rhythm… please, I invite her to think again. Rhythm is not an intellectual thing. It simply requires only an effort of letting go: the resources in Musically Fluent are designed to direct students towards this goal of rhythmic freedom and power.

It is free to register and is open to both students and teachers, so please feel free to take a look at my ideas.

Best wishes

#1248078 - 08/12/09 05:42 PM Re: Helping Out with Stage Fright [Re: Phil Best]
beccaY Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/09
Posts: 23
I don't know what to say to help you with this student. I was and still am like that and now I am a teacher. I can play duets, I play at many christmas parties and I am totally fine. I was in band, orchestra, choir, jazz band, if it had anything to do with music, I was a part of it. I never got nervous about performances as long as I was not up there alone. I botched every piano recital no matter what. I even played in competitions and I was fine, because it was just me and the judge. I did get a bit nervous but nothing like at recital time. My major in college was actually vocal music education, so I had to do a voice recital my junior year. My recital date changed 3 times because I could not get my self prepared and I know it was all mental. I knew as soon as I got my music ready I would have to do the recital. The recital was ok but not great. I don't know what I'm trying to say but, sometimes people are just like that.

In my studio, the kids come over once a month and they play a piece in progress, or finished or if they are in method books, something from that week. They have gotten very used to playing in front of each other and I think they feel more comfortable at recital time. I have had the shyest kids break out of their shells because I make them perform for everyone regularly. I also try not to make recitals too formal, because then it seems to put more pressure on them.

Good luck with your student!

#1248107 - 08/12/09 06:57 PM Re: Helping Out with Stage Fright [Re: beccaY]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Glad you said what you said, beccaY. I feel the same. I hated it. I suspect I will continue to hate it. It's just me up there and a bunch of people listening and waiting for me to make a mistake. Maybe someday I'll feel differently if I do manage to get the sense of ownership I can feel myself developing over what I'm planning to do with music, but I'm not waiting for it to happen. I hate recitals. They never stopped me from learning, but they were always the worst experiences of the entire learning process. Even if I did well, I didn't feel accomplishment or pride, just bald, shaking relief that it was over. *shrug* Some like them, some don't.

I can't even explain if it's just me being up there alone or not, because I love public speaking, even extemporaneously. But playing an instrument? Hate it. I hope never to do it again, and look forward to owning a piano and being able to be heard by no one but myself and pleasing no one but myself. I've always been the hardest person for me to please anyway.
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