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Going to be a concert pianist...
#2987511 06/03/20 04:48 PM
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... for 5 minutes! laugh And I have some questions.

So, I signed up to participate in Pianofest. This is a Dutch piano festival for amateur pianists of all ages and levels, and you get to play 5 minutes on a Steinway concert grand in front of an audience, and judges.

Here I am, self taught enthusiastic amateur player, never had a lesson in my life, learned to play from synthesia and watching others play on youtube, and having huge nerves! I even get shaky hands playing a station piano with people watching! But, I really want to do this, because I play from the heart, and I really would like to share that, and like the saying goes, you only live once, so I wasn't gonna pass on this chance.


So my first question is, does anyone have any advice against nerves? From my station piano experience I know it can totally mess up my playing, and obviously that's not what i want! When I'm not nervous (read: Alone) I am confident in my playing, and think I have something to give, apart from probably some wrong notes here and there, I think I have a musical story to tell that can be felt. The thing is, when I get too nervous, it seems like all this emotion is blocked, and my playing just sounds bad.

Another question: I like to use the soft pedal alot, but at home i have a u3 and a digital, so I'm not used to actions shifting to the right, could this cause a problem?

Any other tips are very welcome and appreciated!

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Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
U3piano #2987521 06/03/20 05:00 PM
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First piece of advice: Hoorah for doing this!!!😊
More advice: play something you are VERY at ease with playing: don’t pick the newest, most difficult piece
Practice at home as if you are performing: walk to the piano as if you are walking into the stage, bow... etc. take your time starting!!! Including several deep breaths. It really helps anxiety. .

Remember that your audience will not care about missed notes. They really won’t ...


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
U3piano #2987526 06/03/20 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by U3piano
Another question: I like to use the soft pedal alot, but at home i have a u3 and a digital, so I'm not used to actions shifting to the right, could this cause a problem?
If you've never played on a grand before, you might be better off not using the una corda pedal. It can be very disconcerting when the keyboard shifts and you have to instantly adjust.

BTW, are you using that pedal excessively? It shouldn't be used to control your volume: it's meant to produce a sotto voce tone color.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
U3piano #2987529 06/03/20 05:25 PM
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Great initiative!

My suggestions:

1. Avoid stimulants, like caffeine

2. Get hold of some L-theanine (it's from tea leaves. It promotes a relaxed but alert mental state)

3. Rehearse the experience in your mind many times, always imagining yourself being calm and confident.


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Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
bennevis #2987541 06/03/20 05:48 PM
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Some great suggestions already! Thanks, all!

Originally Posted by bennevis
If you've never played on a grand before, you might be better off not using the una corda pedal. It can be very disconcerting when the keyboard shifts and you have to instantly adjust.

BTW, are you using that pedal excessively? It shouldn't be used to control your volume: it's meant to produce a sotto voce tone color.

I only played some grands at a couple of piano dealers, but back then I didn't use the soft pedal yet. I did try it, and yes I did think the shifting keybed was pretty disconcerting, so I think not using the soft pedal is probably pretty good advice.

And I don't know when using it is excessively? But to be honest I'm quite stubborn in doing things my own way, and don't care too much about how it's supposed to be done. I think I use it both the right and the wrong way. The right way on my digital and the wrong way on my upright. While playing digital, I use it to get that different, beautiful tone. (I mostly play the walker and it's got lovely una corda samples.), but playing on my upright, I cheat and do use it for volume, but that's what it does on the u3 really too, the tone changes a bit (actually I think the tone is better without pressing the soft pedal), but mostly it's just easier to play softly. I also use it much, probably excessively, on the u3 because I have neighbours and I feel better playing softer more often.

Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
U3piano #2987546 06/03/20 05:58 PM
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On an upright I think the left pedal works differently and just makes the hammers move closer so that the sound is softer. It doesn't shift the whole action like on a grand.

Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
Qazsedcft #2987549 06/03/20 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
On an upright I think the left pedal works differently and just makes the hammers move closer so that the sound is softer. It doesn't shift the whole action like on a grand.

That's correct, that's why the tone doesn't change much, but the volume does. On the upright I have learned to adjust to the change in the weight of the keys (they get lighter as well), so that I can smoothly play from soft using the soft pedal, to loud without the pedal, with minimal volume bumps in the moment I release the pedal. I think this gives an upright quite a big range of expression.

Btw

Originally Posted by dogperson
First piece of advice: Hoorah for doing this!!!😊

Thnx dogperson.

Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
U3piano #2987550 06/03/20 06:03 PM
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Use the bathroom before you go on stage.

Have a great time!


Learner
Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
U3piano #2987551 06/03/20 06:09 PM
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Oh so some places in Europe are opening up for concert attendance? Or is that still undecided? Hey if they change to video format and you don't have a big audience then maybe you won't be as nervous. Sorry I can't help you with controlling nerves. I have the same problem as you (likely I'm worse) My teacher makes me play recitals a few times a year on stage. I have tried every trick to combat nervousness and now I'm just resigned to it — yep, I'm a loser. So I can't help you except send good wishes.

Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
U3piano #2987552 06/03/20 06:09 PM
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I agree with bennevis that if you have not much experience playing on a grand, the una corda pedal is best left out of your performance. Both the mechanics and the effect obtained by using the "soft" pedal on an upright and the una corda pedal on a grand are quite different. You'll want to play your best since this is before an audience and judges and if you are not able to experience what the una corda pedal does on this particular piano you may be compromising your performance by using it.

What is "excessive"? Limiting it to grand pianos, excessive use is using it much of the time. The una corda should be used only for special tonal effects and not as a crutch to help you play softly. Because many grand pianos - including those used for local competitions - don't always have the una corda regulated properly, it is almost imperative that you not use it if you don't have a chance to check it out, to see what effect its use has on this particular piano and how its use would benefit your performance.

Regards,


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Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
wszxbcl #2987553 06/03/20 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by wszxbcl
Oh so some places in Europe are opening up for concert attendance? Or is that still undecided? Hey if they change to video format and you don't have a big audience then maybe you won't be as nervous. Sorry I can't help you with controlling nerves. I have the same problem as you (likely I'm worse) My teacher makes me play recitals a few times a year on stage. I have tried every trick to combat nervousness and now I'm just resigned to it — yep, I'm a loser. So I can't help you except send good wishes.

Yes,. I forgot to say that. I said there would be an audience, but that's still uncertain actually, so it might be a video format actually, but that's really not what I hope for, my aim is to touch people's feelings. Please never say you are a loser again, you are not! Thanks for the wishes, I will need them. eek

Here's a link to a video of a performance at pianofest 2019. I didn't record it but I was in the audience, and that was the first time at pianofest for me. I heard about it for the first time about a year ago from a guy at a station piano. I love the initiative, they should do this all over the world! (Don't know if they do?)

https://youtu.be/NpOp7b158dI

Maybe we could crowdfund a pianoworld pianofest! laugh

Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
U3piano #2987559 06/03/20 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by U3piano
[quote=wszxbcl]I love the initiative, they should do this all over the world! (Don't know if they do?)

They do have it around the world. In fact, they’re pretty common. There are too many to participate in all of them where I live. There are even annual e-festivals as well.


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Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
U3piano #2987560 06/03/20 06:25 PM
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Playing for an audience is much more than I am capable of so I admire anyone who can do it. Good for you, make the most of it and try to enjoy yourself.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
Ted #2987565 06/03/20 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Ted
Playing for an audience is much more than I am capable of so I admire anyone who can do it. Good for you, make the most of it and try to enjoy yourself.

Thanks, but I'm not sure at all if I'm capable, haha. I am 36 and have done way too little with my life so far, because of all kinds of reasons, and I have just decided I want to have experiences in my life, and not let fear be the ruler. Even if the outcome will be I was too nervous and I completely messed up, I will still be proud that I have tried. This is something I would never have thought I would ever do.

Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
U3piano #2987571 06/03/20 06:50 PM
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The only advice I would offer is to play those "5 minutes" over and over and over prior to the event.

Play your piece to an audience as much as possible prior to the event.

Invite a group of strangers in to be the audience .... (kidding ?) ...

And remember .... you are going to make mistakes.

Practice keeping going no matter what.


Perhaps take an aggressive approach .... be focused on doing this and not being afraid !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU ARE IN CONTROL !!!!!!!!!!!!


Good Luck


Don

Kawai MP11SE, Focal Professional CMS 40 near-field monitors, Yamaha HS8S Powered Subwoofer, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq and numerous other VSTs (Seldom Used), Focus Rite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface, Mackie MIX 5 Compact Mixer.
Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
U3piano #2987573 06/03/20 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by U3piano
Originally Posted by Ted
Playing for an audience is much more than I am capable of so I admire anyone who can do it. Good for you, make the most of it and try to enjoy yourself.

Thanks, but I'm not sure at all if I'm capable, haha. I am 36 and have done way too little with my life so far, because of all kinds of reasons, and I have just decided I want to have experiences in my life, and not let fear be the ruler. Even if the outcome will be I was too nervous and I completely messed up, I will still be proud that I have tried. This is something I would never have thought I would ever do.

Good for you! That's absolutely the right attitude to have. I'm sure it'll be an experience you'll remember for a long time, no matter how it turns out. I don't really have any useful advice for you apart from to say be as well prepared as you can, as I too used to get very nervous before my piano teacher's recitals - heart pounding away, a couple of times it felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. But the buzz I got after performing was incredible. I had 8 years of lessons with my piano teacher and to be honest, I can barely recall them now. But I have vivid memories of those recitals. Most of them were fine but even the one or two bad performances I can look back on and chuckle about. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
malkin #2987583 06/03/20 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by malkin
Use the bathroom before you go on stage.

To practice a couple of scales, you mean? grin

Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
U3piano #2987614 06/03/20 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by U3piano
... so it might be a video format actually, but that's really not what I hope for, my aim is to touch people's feelings.

Ok then focus on that. Maybe that will take your mind off of being nervous.

One thing I thought of to remind you: When nervous it's quite common to speed up and rush through as if you don't belong up there or wish to get it over with. But the stage is all yours alone for 5 minutes. Be deliberate, don't compromise on clarity. Don't rush.

Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
wszxbcl #2987615 06/03/20 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by wszxbcl
Originally Posted by U3piano
... so it might be a video format actually, but that's really not what I hope for, my aim is to touch people's feelings.

Ok then focus on that. Maybe that will take your mind off of being nervous.

One thing I thought of to remind you: When nervous it's quite common to speed up and rush through as if you don't belong up there or wish to get it over with. But the stage is all yours alone for 5 minutes. Be deliberate, don't compromise on clarity. Don't rush.

thumb thumb if you can concentrate on the music you are sharing rather than yourself, it will be amazing!!

Re: Going to be a concert pianist...
U3piano #2987642 06/04/20 12:38 AM
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Talk to your doctor about two drugs (drug families, actually) that might be useful:

a) anti-anxiety drugs;

b) beta-blockers.

Anti-anxiety drugs, I have no experience with.

But I take a low-dose beta blocker, and it cuts my peak heart rate by about 10 BPM. I had a heart-function test once, and I had to take a considerably larger dose:

. . . My heart rate, sitting in the waiting room, nervous, was at 60 bpm !

I believe that many symphony musicians (yes, they suffer from stage fright) used to take beta-blockers. I don't know if it's still common, or if they've switched to something else.


. Charles
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