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Posted By: absent-minded professor Nerves: career ending? - 03/20/08 02:00 PM
We all get nervous, I know, but have they ever KILLED your performance? And I don't mean made you play at 70% of your usual standard, I mean REALLY messed everything up, to the point where there were more wrong notes than right ones? What could be done to prevent this? Should nerves/anxiety be treated separately (ie. by a psychologist) or is there anything the teacher/student can do to overcome this?
Posted By: Akira Re: Nerves: career ending? - 03/20/08 02:34 PM
I thought this was a pretty good article on dealing with stagefright . Have a look.
Posted By: virtuoso_18 Re: Nerves: career ending? - 03/20/08 02:57 PM
Nerves did ruin my performance sometimes, dropping it to a 10 % shadow of what i'm really capable of. I then came up with some techniques that really helped me overcome this.

1. Make recordings! Use your cell phone or your tape recorder or your computer mic, anything. With knoweldge that you'll play these recording to someone else, it somewhat simulates playing on stage.
2. Bring over friends , family, and neighbors and play for them.
3. Confidence plays a major part, practice your pieces very slowly until you're 100 % confident of them. Practice in the dark to improve your touch confidence. I actually got to the point where I played whole pieces blindfolded, and on the stage,I didn't even sweat.

Good luck!
Posted By: Guendola Re: Nerves: career ending? - 03/21/08 12:43 AM
Stage fright is very common but if you get into a helpless panic state each time you have to perform, a psychologist might be a good idea.

On the other hand, you might be able to play in such a state, if you really concentrate on playing and nothing else. If you can do that, it will become better soon. I found that many people try to fight stage fright (or other similar problems) instead of just concentrating on what they have to do. That feeds the fright and there is even less energy left to do your job.
Posted By: LaValse Re: Nerves: career ending? - 03/21/08 01:16 AM
http://eye.columbiaspectator.com/index.php/site/article/classical-musics-dirty-little-secret/
Posted By: -Frycek Re: Nerves: career ending? - 03/21/08 01:30 AM
A couple of years ago I was going through some old papers for my Dad and ran across a 40 year old note from my piano teacher complimenting me on my performance at a recital. This was a shock to me because in that moment I realized that I had no recollection of that recital or any other recital I'd played in, ever. I appear to have totally blacked them out. The recitals had to have been emotionally traumatic for me to have obliterated the memories like that. Even now I often falter when I hear a family member in the next room, sometimes stopping until the person leaves, and recording is purgatory for me.
Posted By: BJenkins Re: Nerves: career ending? - 03/21/08 04:43 AM
Quote
Originally posted by absent-minded professor:
We all get nervous, I know, but have they ever KILLED your performance? And I don't mean made you play at 70% of your usual standard, I mean REALLY messed everything up, to the point where there were more wrong notes than right ones?
All the time...
Posted By: wr Re: Nerves: career ending? - 03/21/08 07:43 AM
If you and your teacher can get a handle on it, great. But I'd recommend as strongly as possible that if that doesn't work, to at least try a mental health professional.

This issue has affected and shaped my life in many many ways, and not only ones about musical performance. While I refuse to frame it in completely negative terms, it is clear to me now, in my late 50s, that the more you know and can find out about what is going on with it, the better off you'll be. And that is regardless of whether you "conquer" it in the long run, or how else you may end up dealing with it.
Posted By: JohnEB Re: Nerves: career ending? - 03/21/08 09:18 AM
A guy I know who runs a recording studio has a deal with a local breathing/acting coach who will come in and give a quick session on breathing to people who are having difficulty with nerves when recording. Works wonders!

Personally I agree with the advice above about finding the opportunity to perform ahead of the real performance, even if it's only to family and friends.
Posted By: AndrewG Re: Nerves: career ending? - 03/21/08 12:14 PM
Quote
Originally posted by absent-minded professor:
We all get nervous, I know, ...
Most of us definitely do. Some performing artists do not get nervous on a regular basis. Just the opposite, they get excited and more involved in their playing. In other words they do BETTER in public performances.
Posted By: dmc092657 Re: Nerves: career ending? - 03/22/08 02:40 AM
Quote
Some performing artists do not get nervous on a regular basis. Just the opposite, they get excited and more involved in their playing. In other words they do BETTER in public performances.
Absolutely true. And many of them are artists we discuss here & wish we could play like (or perhaps not...). They feel the same nervous emotions that the rest of us do. But they have learned how to turn that into a positive and feed off it when they perform.

I would treat performance nerves like trying to learn a very difficult passage: Repetition. In other words, take every opportunity to play for people even if its only one person. If you do this enough, you will become comfortable with having an audience and it will become 2nd nature.
Posted By: wr Re: Nerves: career ending? - 03/22/08 02:51 AM
Quote
Originally posted by dmc092657:
[QUOTE]

I would treat performance nerves like trying to learn a very difficult passage: Repetition. In other words, take every opportunity to play for people even if its only one person. If you do this enough, you will become comfortable with having an audience and it will become 2nd nature.
That's a nice theory, but I don't know of any evidence that it is a fact for everyone. I suspect there are some folks who are wired in a way that prevents them from ever getting to that promised land of reasonable comfort with an audience. At least not without some major overhaul of their psyche, and the possible assistance of drugs. If you have truly debilitating stagefright, this proposed remedy of getting in front of people and experiencing it over and over again can actually make it more solidly entrenched than ever.
Posted By: hotkeys Re: Nerves: career ending? - 03/22/08 02:55 AM
I always remind myself it is the journey, and not the destination that matters. We learn the most from our mistakes...

- Mark
Posted By: Secondo Re: Nerves: career ending? - 03/22/08 04:52 AM
Here is what Andre Watts says:

"There is a certain nervousness that is almost always there. . . . I've had whole seasons where I find I'm always nervous; then there are times when everything flows smoothly. About 8 or 9 years ago, I had a season of almost nothing but memory lapses which sort of became a cycle. I knew I had a memory failure in a previous concert, so I waited for one in the present performance. It went on and on. Eventually it passed and, even though now occasionally I have a memory lapse, nothing ever equaled that particular year."

So even very accomplished virtuosos have cases of the nerves and memory lapses. I think it is good to know you are not alone!
Posted By: Auntie Lynn Re: Nerves: career ending? - 03/22/08 01:45 PM
I could frankly care less what people think as long as my employers continue to value my musicality. If you let nerves get in your way, perhaps the performing arts are not for you...enjoy it for what it brings you and stick to performing for your after-dinner guests.
Posted By: gabytu Re: Nerves: career ending? - 03/22/08 08:32 PM
Stage fright and nervous attacks come about because we are terrified about making a mistake or having a memory lapse. A friend, who is an excellent pianist had such panic attacks before a concert or recitald that he almost gave up playing in public. Then he decided to come to grips with this fear of playing for an audience by recognizing that he will make mistakes, and he will have a memory lapse or two. He then adopted the attitude of "so what. It may or may not happen. Just get in there and play. If anyone in the audience can play better, let them have at it."

Yes, he has made mistakes----no one in the audience seemed to notice or to mind. He has had memory lapses, and again, just kept on playing, and again, no one in the audience seemed to mind.

Gaby Tu
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