2017 was our 20th year online!

Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 3 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments.
Over 100,000 members from around the world.
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Shop our online store for music lovers
SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad) SWEETWATER Cyber Week Deals
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
 Best of Piano Buyer
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
(ad)
Wessell Nickel & Gross
PianoForAll
Who's Online Now
40 members (Jay, CraiginNZ, eddiepiano, apianostudent, danno858, beginer, deadlymajesty, David B, astrotoy, 7 invisible), 503 guests, and 435 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Page 1 of 2 1 2
#2344674 11/02/14 08:42 PM
Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 452
F
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
F
Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 452
Hello PW,
I've been meaning to ask a question regarding this issue for quite sometime, but I'm always "weary"(is that the word?) of posting threads regarding personal issues. But I do believe now that this is beneficial for all of us.

I've been having some bad experiences lately, mainly in competitions, in which I completely lose control when playing the piano. This is understandable, and normal to some extent, so I didn't worry too much. Now, I have an audition tomorrow and I noticed that the last couple of nights I woke up with pain in my hands, "tensing up" them, if that makes sense. Like, forcing them, some very powerful contractions. The result is that I now have pain all over my hand muscles, making playing the piano very difficult and painful. I have 12 hours until the audition.

I've been thinking about meditation. Does anybody have any experience with that? Yoga, I don't know... I just can´t seem to turn into a relaxed person. I've learned to relax when playing the piano, but as soon as I stop consciously thinking about relaxing, I tense up. Biofeedback is not proving to remediate the root of the problem...

I'm afraid this turned out a bit too personal. But my idea is to use this thread to talk about relaxation exercises to be done away from the piano.

Last edited by Francisco Scalco; 11/02/14 08:43 PM.
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 17,326
M
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
M
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 17,326
With such short notice, perhaps if you can get a doctor to prescribe beta blockers that would be the best thing. I know people who swear by them, and you can use them as you learn to deal with the emotional anxiety part of things over time.


private piano/voice teacher FT

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 6,295
C
6000 Post Club Member
Offline
6000 Post Club Member
C
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 6,295
Originally Posted by Francisco Scalco
...I'm always "weary"(is that the word?) of posting threads regarding personal issues.
The word you're after is "wary", meaning cautious or careful (as in "beware"). "Weary" means tired. So only use it if you're tired of posting such threads. smile

Best wishes with your problem - I hope you get some helpful answers.


Du holde Kunst...
Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 19
P
Junior Member
Offline
Junior Member
P
Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 19
I would take Ibuprofen to help with the pain just to get through the competition. After the competition, you'll need to work on controlling your anxiety. I have struggled with performance anxiety a good bit as well. This book helped me so much: http://www.amazon.com/The-Musicians...p;sr=8-1&keywords=gerald+klickstein. I highly recommend that you read it. This website is also very helpful: http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/blog/. I've found that working through performance anxiety takes a lot of mental and emotional work, but it's worth it. Just be patient and know that there are solutions for anxiety problems. Don't give up! Best wishes!

Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 3,542
P
3000 Post Club Member
Offline
3000 Post Club Member
P
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 3,542
Oh yeah, I used to do that. To solve the problem a teacher hit my arms.

It surprised me but didn't solve the problem.


Poetry is rhythm
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 3,390
3000 Post Club Member
Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 3,390
Hi Francisco,

In the short term (days) I agree with the person who said ibuprofen and just get through.

In the next few weeks, try playing for different people in some context that's more stressful than your everyday playing context but less stressful than high-stakes performance. Have a friend over to listen, play for a nursing home, be a guest musician at a church, make recordings and post them online, whatever you can think of. The more you perform the more you get used to it. And the more normal it will feel.

For the hand tension issue, does it happen in practice? See if you can isolate what causes it: if practicing slowly and quietly hands separately is OK, then try slowly and quietly hands together, then try slowly and quietly hands together with someone else listening, etc. and see when problems start to occur.

And sometimes these things are just like catching a cold, you battle it for a week or two and then it goes away on its own. If this is only a recent thing, it's unlikely that it will become a permanent problem.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano

Working on:
Beethoven - Diabelli Variations Op. 120
Beethoven/Liszt - Symphony no. 7
Tommy (whole show)

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 1,295
T
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
T
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 1,295
My personal experience with anxiety has been that my anxiety almost went away completely after dealing with a huge amount of stress for a period of time. I think that it is something people can adapt to given the right mindset.

Are you at music school or something? How about try to arrange informal concerts with your friends where you play stuff that you're "not ready" to play or something if that's possible. Play in front of a microphone that's recording. Something to bring the tension up a bit, which will let your body and mind learn to relax.

Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 452
F
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
F
Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 452
Thank you all for the replys! I was very nervous during the whole audition, but I passed. I never worried too much with anxiety during perfomances, I got worried when I started to tense up during the day, away from the piano. My physiotherapist recommended me meditation. She says there are cientific studies proving that meditation helps release tension.

But again, thank you all for your help. Ibuprofen helped me a great deal!

Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,701
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,701
What do you mean exactly by "lose control"?
Congrats on passing !

Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 3,390
3000 Post Club Member
Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 3,390
congratulations Francisco!


Heather W. Reichgott, piano

Working on:
Beethoven - Diabelli Variations Op. 120
Beethoven/Liszt - Symphony no. 7
Tommy (whole show)

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 9,172
W
wr Offline
9000 Post Club Member
Offline
9000 Post Club Member
W
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 9,172
Originally Posted by Francisco Scalco
Thank you all for the replys! I was very nervous during the whole audition, but I passed. I never worried too much with anxiety during perfomances, I got worried when I started to tense up during the day, away from the piano. My physiotherapist recommended me meditation. She says there are cientific studies proving that meditation helps release tension.

But again, thank you all for your help. Ibuprofen helped me a great deal!


Doing some meditation is a good idea for almost anybody, I think, and it's pretty easy to learn on your own. My experience with it is pretty limited, but even so, I notice that it helps reduce stress, tension, anxiety, and so forth, plus there's a gain in self-knowledge.

What's nice is that getting started doesn't require any great commitment of time or money - you can do just a few minutes a day, and you can learn how to do it for free, from various sites on the internet. You can just google "beginner meditation" to get started. There are many variations of how to go about it, so checking out a few different methods to find the one that's most comfortable for you is worthwhile, I think.


Joined: May 2012
Posts: 439
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 439
Waking up multiple nights with hand pain and/or cramps? That alone doesn't sound like it's directly caused by anxiety. More likely muscle fatigue from over-practice (which does help to reduce anxiety). Cramps anywhere else (i.e., legs, feet, calves)? Leg cramps are notoriously difficult to treat, as evidenced by the many nostrums tried to quell them. Things like low magnesium or potassium are probably unlikely, but general health should be checked by a physician. Or perhaps were you waking up with nightmares, heart pounding, sweating (i.e., "night terrors")? Conceivably, you could hyperventilate in such a state and get hand cramps from that.

As one who was suddenly mind-blanked and shaking with flop-sweat performance anxiety before a crowd (and who chose a non-musical career because of it), my advice may be worth less than you're paying for it, but agree a low-dose beta blocker (safely prescribed by a physician) could be very helpful before a performance. For more continuous anxiety (enough to cause nocturnal panic attacks?) a physician would likely prescribe something other than (or in addition to) a beta blocker. And no doubt meditation, walking or more vigorous exercise (upright, with legs, possibly outside (yecch!)), counseling, etc., might be helpful, but would not overlook consulting a physician, (not to disparage dilly-dallying with other live in-person licensed primary healthcare-provider-type persons).

Practice performing pieces before audiences, the nastier the better, (teacher master classes, rent a crowd?) is a good way to stress-test your nerves and memory. If you can identify the weak spots you can reinforce them before a bigger event. Especially helpful (for me) was a mental run-through, preferably with the music and hands "playing" on a table-top backstage immediately before the performance, to fix the musical plan in mind with nothing intervening.


"I will hear in Heaven." Beethoven
Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 452
F
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
F
Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 452
Thank your for your detailed comment.

Well, I don't believe it is caused by over-practice, since I'm very careful with my practice, always making pauses between each hour.

I'm trying to avoid beta blockers, but I think I'll give it a shot sometime, just out of curiosity. As I said, anxiety doesn't affect me that much at the piano. It already did, but I'm learning to manage it. What scared me was waking up contracting my hands, and having pain during a couple of days because of that.

But I agree with you on "practicing performance". This is the only thing that has been trully helping me.

Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 167
D
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
D
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 167
Francisco,

For the long term management of anxiety and its adverse effects, I would strongly recommend addressing the the deeper causes. For example...

Nutritionally, magnesium supplementation can mitigate anxiety and cramping, and relax muscles. About 80% of people are deficient. About a month ago I started a thread on magnesium for protecting from hearing loss.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubb...um_Protects_Against_Hea.html#Post2333052

I take two of these these three forms daily: citrate, malate, & glycinate. They are all well-absorbed. Yes, magnesium can have a laxative effect. Magnesium oxide, which is very poorly absorbed, is probably best for that purpose. Spreading out the intake through the day will lessen the laxative effect. There are other forms that don't have that effect, e.g. magnesium lotion, which is magnesium chloride in a lotion form that is applied to the skin. It has the advantage of building up stores in the body more quickly than other forms that are taken internally.

Here are some sources of information in case you're interested:

If you want to learn more, I don't think you can do better than Carolyn Dean, MD ND. Here's a talk by her:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articl...t_rid=361545887

Here she lists 22 health conditions that are triggered or caused by magnesium deficiencies:

http://drcarolyndean.com/magnesium_miracle/

Her book, The Magnesium Miracle, is now in a new 3rd edition (2014).

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0345494...wwcarolyndea-20

Regarding the mind, yes, meditation is an excellent practice for slowing, stilling the mind. There are many varieties of just how to go about it. Focusing on one's breath is perhaps the simplest way to begin.

http://life.gaiam.com/article/about-breath-meditation

I believe that anxiety largely comes from our minds being preoccupied with beliefs formed from negative past experiences that are projected into a future of worries and fears. Meditation and the companion practice of mindfulness bring the mind more fully into the present moment, heightening awareness and optimizing focus and performance.

http://www.amazon.com/Inner-Game-Music-Barry-Green/dp/0385231261

Finally, practices such as yoga and qigong can be very beneficial. Also, autogenic relaxation with a CD.

http://www.amazon.com/Progressive-Relaxation-Autogenic-Training-Carolyn/dp/B0000AI0OG

For your consideration.

Wishing you well,

David Bauguess



Last edited by DavidWB; 11/08/14 12:45 PM.

David Bauguess
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 416
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 416
Francisco, I posted this in a thread with a similar theme, so I'm just going to copy it:

I've been reading this article and I read something that might help you. I'll quote it for you:

Quote:
"7. The Anxiety Free or "Sans souci" Technique

This technique is named sans souci, because it is designed to create moments in the music which give the feeling of shrugging the shoulders, throwing up the hands in a gesture to say, "Don't take all this so seriously! Live a little! Stop controlling! Let go! Be happy! Don't worry so much! In other words, sans souci: without a care!

When the alignment of notes in the score suggests that they be performed strictly and simultaneously, they may be purposely jumbled or played in an irregular or a staggering manner to create a careless (sans souci) effect. This technique gives music a feeling of relaxed effortlessness, whether one uses the term sans souci, or tempo rubato, or “jazzy,” disjointed, etc.

Listeners can only truly enjoy listening when a sans souci environment and attitude prevails. This technique dispels anxiety and self-consciousness in the performer, and this transforms not only the performer’s experience but also the reception of the listener, for anxiety rubs off on all who observe it. Mechanical, metrical, and regular playing creates anxiety; inégal, irregular, and logical playing eliminate anxiety. Overconcern with relatively meaningless detail creates anxiety; sweeping gestures dispel anxiety. Obsession with accuracy creates anxiety; focusing on meaning and purpose dispel anxiety. Concern about the opinion or others creates anxiety; carelessness of the opinion of others dispels anxiety. Self consciousness creates anxiety; confidence and a total lack of self consciousness dispel anxiety. That is the function of sans souci.

Application: Sans souci is the antithesis to how most classical musicians are taught. Applying this technique is as much about attitude as about specific procedures. Study the musical score for every opportunity to “shrug the shoulders.” Try every passage to see if it can't be improved by having staggering the lines staggered by exactly one half the notated value. Sometimes the bass may lead, sometimes the treble."


Tell me what you think. I found it interesting and true.

This is not to say that one shouldn't practice and aim for getting the correct notes and rhythm and accuracy, but it's just something to change your mindset/attitude during the performance. It goes without saying that all the fundamentals of the piece, and its foundations, should be firmly in place before exploring doing things differently. Just thought I'd clear that up.

Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 9,172
W
wr Offline
9000 Post Club Member
Offline
9000 Post Club Member
W
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 9,172
Originally Posted by DavidWB
There are other forms that don't have that effect, e.g. magnesium lotion, which is magnesium chloride in a lotion form that is applied to the skin. It has the advantage of building up stores in the body more quickly than other forms that are taken internally.



I have been using "magnesium oil" a bit, which is simply a magnesium chloride and water solution that is applied to the skin. It's called "oil" just because it feels oily to the touch. You can even make it yourself - you just buy the mineral (you can do that online) and dissolve it in distilled water.

Anyway, although these are not the reasons I decided to try using it, I've definitely noticed that I have fewer foot and leg cramps, and I also sleep more soundly. Nice.




Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 452
F
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
F
Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 452
Originally Posted by DavidWB
Francisco,

For the long term management of anxiety and its adverse effects, I would strongly recommend addressing the the deeper causes. For example...

Nutritionally, magnesium supplementation can mitigate anxiety and cramping, and relax muscles. About 80% of people are deficient. About a month ago I started a thread on magnesium for protecting from hearing loss.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubb...um_Protects_Against_Hea.html#Post2333052

I take two of these these three forms daily: citrate, malate, & glycinate. They are all well-absorbed. Yes, magnesium can have a laxative effect. Magnesium oxide, which is very poorly absorbed, is probably best for that purpose. Spreading out the intake through the day will lessen the laxative effect. There are other forms that don't have that effect, e.g. magnesium lotion, which is magnesium chloride in a lotion form that is applied to the skin. It has the advantage of building up stores in the body more quickly than other forms that are taken internally.

Here are some sources of information in case you're interested:

If you want to learn more, I don't think you can do better than Carolyn Dean, MD ND. Here's a talk by her:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articl...t_rid=361545887

Here she lists 22 health conditions that are triggered or caused by magnesium deficiencies:

http://drcarolyndean.com/magnesium_miracle/

Her book, The Magnesium Miracle, is now in a new 3rd edition (2014).

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0345494...wwcarolyndea-20

Regarding the mind, yes, meditation is an excellent practice for slowing, stilling the mind. There are many varieties of just how to go about it. Focusing on one's breath is perhaps the simplest way to begin.

http://life.gaiam.com/article/about-breath-meditation

I believe that anxiety largely comes from our minds being preoccupied with beliefs formed from negative past experiences that are projected into a future of worries and fears. Meditation and the companion practice of mindfulness bring the mind more fully into the present moment, heightening awareness and optimizing focus and performance.

http://www.amazon.com/Inner-Game-Music-Barry-Green/dp/0385231261

Finally, practices such as yoga and qigong can be very beneficial. Also, autogenic relaxation with a CD.

http://www.amazon.com/Progressive-Relaxation-Autogenic-Training-Carolyn/dp/B0000AI0OG

For your consideration.

Wishing you well,

David Bauguess



Now there's something I had no idea was an issue. That's exactly the sort of thing I was looking for, how to adress the deeper issues... I'm definitely looking into this. Thank you so much!

Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 452
F
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
F
Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 452
Originally Posted by Pover
Francisco, I posted this in a thread with a similar theme, so I'm just going to copy it:

I've been reading this article and I read something that might help you. I'll quote it for you:

Quote:
"7. The Anxiety Free or "Sans souci" Technique

This technique is named sans souci, because it is designed to create moments in the music which give the feeling of shrugging the shoulders, throwing up the hands in a gesture to say, "Don't take all this so seriously! Live a little! Stop controlling! Let go! Be happy! Don't worry so much! In other words, sans souci: without a care!

When the alignment of notes in the score suggests that they be performed strictly and simultaneously, they may be purposely jumbled or played in an irregular or a staggering manner to create a careless (sans souci) effect. This technique gives music a feeling of relaxed effortlessness, whether one uses the term sans souci, or tempo rubato, or “jazzy,” disjointed, etc.

Listeners can only truly enjoy listening when a sans souci environment and attitude prevails. This technique dispels anxiety and self-consciousness in the performer, and this transforms not only the performer’s experience but also the reception of the listener, for anxiety rubs off on all who observe it. Mechanical, metrical, and regular playing creates anxiety; inégal, irregular, and logical playing eliminate anxiety. Overconcern with relatively meaningless detail creates anxiety; sweeping gestures dispel anxiety. Obsession with accuracy creates anxiety; focusing on meaning and purpose dispel anxiety. Concern about the opinion or others creates anxiety; carelessness of the opinion of others dispels anxiety. Self consciousness creates anxiety; confidence and a total lack of self consciousness dispel anxiety. That is the function of sans souci.

Application: Sans souci is the antithesis to how most classical musicians are taught. Applying this technique is as much about attitude as about specific procedures. Study the musical score for every opportunity to “shrug the shoulders.” Try every passage to see if it can't be improved by having staggering the lines staggered by exactly one half the notated value. Sometimes the bass may lead, sometimes the treble."


Tell me what you think. I found it interesting and true.

This is not to say that one shouldn't practice and aim for getting the correct notes and rhythm and accuracy, but it's just something to change your mindset/attitude during the performance. It goes without saying that all the fundamentals of the piece, and its foundations, should be firmly in place before exploring doing things differently. Just thought I'd clear that up.

This was an incredibly accurate description of my teacher! laugh She's very old school, studied with Guiomar Novaes, Sequeira Costa, etc, so she was still taught this approach to performance.
That's exactly the kind of path I am taking nowadays, or at least trying to take. I spent much of my performing life trying to replicate exactly what I do in the practice room, without realizing that performance is a completely different thing. Comunication can only happen in a "sans souci" environement. What I don't agree is that this must always mean "be happy". I think it means something like "enjoy what you are doing right now". Differently from some other PW members, I believe that the musician's mindset is extremely important and noticeable by the audience. I cannot believe one can communicate something without "feeling", or at least having "felt" during practice.

Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 168
C
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
C
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 168
Clearly you are a professional music student, although I didn't know they had to audition that often (not clear what you are auditioning for).

IN the broad picture, it sounds like you don't really enjoy playing the piano that much, to be honest, it is stressful and unpleasant for you and physically damaging (probably from both physical and mental reasons). I do not think "completely losing control" is "normal" as you state, not at all.

I'm not a professional, I have a day job, but I have actually gotten paid for some gigs that professionals do, so I'm a decent amateur (I have been accompanist to some ballet studios, which isn't that easy). I just wonder if this is really the career for you, although I don't suppose you want to hear that. It sounds terrible from your description and like many people I know who hate what they do, get stress-related illnesses, and are doing things to please parents or something.

In the narrow picture, I have studied meditation, and yes, I think it could definitely help, so suggest you look into that. I never got into yoga that much myself, and some places combine the two, but there are also places that solely teach meditation of various kinds as a philosophy or daily practice.

Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,129
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,129
Road cycling in safe but nice place where you can let your thoughts roam around freely and swimming works miracles... more than yoga in a closed room.
But, if you aren't into it... my best second is swimming with a pair of waterproof earbuds like these http://amzn.com/B00I05EFMG
get 30 or 40 minutes in the pool every night and will do a great deal to remove your tension, help you to sleep and restore your inner balance.

Page 1 of 2 1 2

Moderated by  Brendan, Kreisler 

Link Copied to Clipboard
What's Hot!!
Pianos - Organs - & Keyboards, Oh My!
My first professionally recorded piece
---------------------
Visit Maine, Meet Mr. Piano World
---------------------
Posting Pictures on the Forums
-------------------
Forums RULES & HELP
-------------------
ADVERTISE on Piano World
(ad)
Pianoteq
Steinway Spiro Layering
(ad)
PianoDisc

PianoDisc
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad)
Mason & Hamlin Pianos
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Es920 production stopped??
by playplayplay - 12/07/21 12:07 AM
Mehlin & Sons Piano Identification
by LeviWhitted - 12/06/21 08:37 PM
jack position button not present in old grand
by f4tune81 - 12/06/21 08:11 PM
Thinking about recital #65
by stevedoz - 12/06/21 04:28 PM
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
Forum Statistics
Forums42
Topics210,420
Posts3,151,114
Members103,539
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers

Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | MapleStreetMusicShop.com - Our store in Cornish Maine


© copyright 1997 - 2021 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5