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Originally Posted by SwissMS
I almost always play better at home than in a recital or exam.


There are two components to that. Some of it is the stage fright that is the subject of this thread, and some is just that you're playing on an unfamiliar instrument. You might also not play as well even if the exam room piano were moved next to your piano at home.


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As much a I hate this advice myself...slow down.

I hate playing in front of people too. I practice well and sometimes play poorly during lesson. When I really force myself to slow down (I don't know why a few BPM feels like it takes so much effort), everything goes so much better. And it's not really *that* slow.

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Originally Posted by Joe Garfield
When I really force myself to slow down (I don't know why a few BPM feels like it takes so much effort), everything goes so much better.

I always make sure that for any piece I intend to perform, I can play it perfectly at least 10% (usually I get it to 20%) faster at home than I intend to perform it at.

Most often, when nerves (or excitement - often it's difficult to separate the two) get to me, I play faster than I intended, so that practicing strategy gives me a degree of 'safety'. Anyone who regularly attends classical piano recitals sees the same 'phenomenon' even from seasoned concert pianists, if they have studio recordings of the same pieces - their live performances are often faster in the fast pieces, sometimes markedly so. That also gives their performances an extra sense of risk-taking and an 'edge' that are absent from their commercial studio recordings, which is why I tend to prefer their live performances, even if they aren't note-perfect.

I like to think that when I'm performing, I'm giving the audience something 'extra' of myself that I couldn't do playing the same music in the privacy of my home with no audience - even if it doesn't always come off in the heat of the moment.......


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Learning to play piano and learning to perform are separate activities. I came to piano as an experienced amateur performer. I was shocked how much more concentration piano required as compared to my other instruments: flute and pennywhistle. My first clue that even a small intrusion during practice, such as a fire engine siren going by, caused me to make a lot of mistakes.

I went to my local music group ready to perform or so I thought. I prepared in a similar way to my other instruments. To my horror, I crashed and burned. It was a complete train wreck. Two months later, similar train wreck. It became clear that I underestimated how much more concentration I needed for piano vs. flute or pennywhistle.

The idea to do easier pieces is a good one. While there are relaxation techniques that can help a new pianist a great deal, there remains the skill requirement, the practice requirement.

For those reading along, there are a tiny percentage, like 2% or 3% that are truly terrified of performing. For those few it may be a bad idea. For most of the rest, 80% to 90% is my guess, nerves have to be overcome. Many need double to quadruple the prep time for a performance piece vs. play for the teacher level.

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Originally Posted by bennevis
I always make sure that for any piece I intend to perform, I can play it perfectly at least 10% (usually I get it to 20%) faster at home than I intend to perform it at.

My problem with that approach is that when I can play it 10% or 20% faster then that becomes my new performance tempo. I had to practice with the metronome to force myself to slow down.

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Someone told me that recording your performance, even when you're all alone in a room, is greatly helpful in this situation.

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Not that I am a great performer, but I do perform 6-8 times a year in various adult recitals. Here is my observations:

1. As someone already mentioned, learning a piece and performing a piece are very different. Playing from memory is another different story.

2. Just because I play a piece successfully the first time, it does not mean it will go as well the second time I perform the same piece 1-2 weeks later. Recently I learned a hard lesson about this. Very frustrating....

3. Recording ourselves at home really helps - it helps the nerves but it also helps listening to (and watching) our own playing afterwards. I am often surprised by what I hear and see. I use iPhone camera, and it works just fine. Now I have a habit of recording myself the night before the actual performance day. This gives me a good record for my own musical journey. If live performance does not go as well, I can go back to the video and remind myself I had some good moments with the piece. I sometimes send the recording to my friends who can not come to the performance. They are not perfect but always well received by friends.

4. In my own situation, I do my best when I am a little "edgy" but not freaked out. The most recent performance I was too relaxed then I had memory slips (ugh).

Finally, it does get better the more I do it - but I am still nervous.

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I also have the problem of making mistakes when I am playing for my teacher. I have only been taking lessons from her for a couple of months, so we don't know each other very well. But it is very frustrating to play pieces at home with no mistakes (that I am aware of), and then when I start to play for her, I make mistakes, even on very simple parts. Finally one day I just stopped playing and said, "I don't know why this happens! It isn't as though you yell at me, but I still get nervous when I play for you!" She looked at me with a perfectly straight face and said, "Yes, and it isn't as though I beat you."

I started to laugh, and said, "Yeah, it's not like you yell at me AND beat me!" We were both laughing and it kind of broke the ice. She then said that the same thing happens with all of her students and not to worry about it. She said, "It doesn't have to be perfect. I can tell that you've practiced. Play it and let's just see how it goes."

Since then I have been SLIGHTLY better about not getting so nervous at lessons. It isn't great, but it is better than it was.

However, I have the same problem recording to USB. I wanted to start recording pieces for the 40 Pieces a Year Club and it took more than 20 tries to get a halfway decent recording to upload to SoundCloud (there were still 2 mistakes in a very simple little piece). I posted it, but later went back and edited my post so that the link to SoundCloud was no longer in the post--because I didn't want anyone to hear it. One person heard it before I deleted the link (and made a kind comment, which I appreciated), and now another person wants the link back, so I am considering putting up the link again, mistakes and all, BUT it is going to be difficult to do. And I don't think trying to make a new recording will help.

Oh, well. I ordered the book that was recommended. It sounds like an interesting book.


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Originally Posted by Rosewood17

However, I have the same problem recording to USB. I wanted to start recording pieces for the 40 Pieces a Year Club and it took more than 20 tries to get a halfway decent recording to upload to SoundCloud (there were still 2 mistakes in a very simple little piece).

That's perfectly normal too. It's exactly what I was refering to as "red dot syndrome" above - i.e. seeing that red dot and knowing that it's recording is enough to make you nervous. Recording yourself often does help with that and it gets easier over time.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by Rosewood17

However, I have the same problem recording to USB. I wanted to start recording pieces for the 40 Pieces a Year Club and it took more than 20 tries to get a halfway decent recording to upload to SoundCloud (there were still 2 mistakes in a very simple little piece).

That's perfectly normal too. It's exactly what I was refering to as "red dot syndrome" above - i.e. seeing that red dot and knowing that it's recording is enough to make you nervous. Recording yourself often does help with that and it gets easier over time.



It should be somehow rebuilt into "Pale blue dot syndrome" - when you play as if all the probable audience is 3.7 billion miles away from you))

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