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I agree that I'm outvoted.

I say so what. grin


I do think it's far more likely to be a result of aspects of the microscopic ways that he's been practicing (some of which he noted).

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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
No matter how one practices a passage, I would assume most people also practice it at performance speed....

Sure -- but, a couple of things:

-- He didn't say it doesn't happen at all when practicing at performance speed. (He said "mostly fine.")

-- For many of us, different things kick in when playing in public. It becomes more "for real," and it wouldn't be unusual for the kind of physical 'conflict' I talked about to come into play more when playing in public, perhaps even only. It's hard to make oneself during practice to have the exact feelings and tendencies that will occur during performance.

FWIW, things like that have happened to me, including not becoming evident until playing in public. You don't have to tell me that I'm not necessarily representative. grin
"Mostly fine" is miles away from what happens when the OP performs in public which is "almost always not fine".

Most people would say and have said on this thread that the problematic things that happen when playing in public that don't happen at home are psychological. And there are certainly books on "performance anxiety" which implies psychological problems.

If you agree what happens to you is not necessarily representative, then why bring it up? How do you know any problems or what you call physical problems you have when playing in public aren't mostly psychological? I think when people have difficulty playing in public compared to at home they almost always attribute it to nerves.

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Thanks for the questions.
Here's one: Why do you so regularly naysay whatever I've offered? grin

We have different kinds of views. So be it.

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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Thanks for the questions.
Here's one: Why do you so regularly naysay whatever I've offered? grin.
I disagree with you when I think your comments are incorrect. And then I offer my reasons why I disagree but you made no attempt to answer them(referring to my last post). You even admitted that most of the posters on this thread don't agree with you so I'm not the only one.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 05/17/22 01:26 PM.
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
I agree that I'm outvoted.

I think your post was very interesting! For instance, what you wrote about the fingering, I also have noticed that what works best when playing hands separately, doesn't necessarily work best when playing hands together.


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Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by Mark_C
I agree that I'm outvoted.

I think your post was very interesting! For instance, what you wrote about the fingering, I also have noticed that what works best when playing hands separately, doesn't necessarily work best when playing hands together.

I also appreciated Mark’s perspective; a lot for me to think about.😊


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Originally Posted by Rubens
It's colloquially called choking and is very common.

I didn't want it to get to that - as in making that word surface. But that is what it is known as too. And it is common.

And - just in case - going to mention that people can indeed improve in this area if they can find ways to change (even slowly and gradually) their mindset, such as from professional advice from a sports psychiatrist - like the ones that some sports people, and other people acquire the services of.

Also - if you can play for example the performed piece of music consistently without issues at home - or alone - or relaxed ----- always correctly, and if you can play it at different parts of your home, and even on different instruments and settings around your home ----- but always have issues when it comes 'crunch time' (ie. test/exam - full-on audience etc) ----- then it is a mindset thing for sure. And it doesn't mean there's anything 'wrong' with you. Working toward adjusting how one feels (perspective) can really be effective for becoming significantly more resilient, and cut down on the chances of 'choking'.

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What people do under certain circumstances is fascinating to me, as an inveterate people-watcher. (Sometimes, I even watch myself dispassionately wink ).

Don't worry, I'm not into self-analysis - I leave that to Hollywood stars, with or without the advice of their shrinks. (I've been to Hollywood, but I'm no star - I'm not even a heavenly body of any sort. cry) I just observe.

Why do people get 'stage fright' in some situations and not others? There have been countless threads on this in PW over the years. Most know what the problem is (but not all). Solving the problem is more.......problematic. There are people who can stand up in front of thousands and give a perfect speech (including ad-libbing and making appropriate jokes at will) on the meaning of life with absolute confidence, yet break down playing Minuet in G in front of an audience of ten, even though they can play it perfectly at home.

And I'm currently watching a series of programs on TV (National Geographic) called 'Air Crash Investigation'(*) with much fascination. Why do similarly well-trained pilots behave so differently when faced with a chaotic and potentially dangerous situation? One pilot loses all sense of reality when one of his airspeed indicators goes berserk, and stalls his plane at 36,000ft, killing everyone on board, when all he really needed to do was to keep his hands off and leaving the autopilot to fly on its prescribed course. Another keeps his cool when both the engines on his 737 flamed out in a hailstorm, then fail completely after catching fire on attempted re-start, and glides down to make a perfect landing on a narrow strip of grassland he manages to reach near New Orleans, and becomes a hero (deservedly).

As a mountaineer, I've seen lots of the same kind of stuff occurring on the mountains, when people encounter unexpected danger, or just new situations, as well as expected perils - no matter what their experience or training. I don't have any answers.

* BTW, don't watch those programs if you have even the slightest bit of flying anxiety, and you're planning to take a flight......


"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."
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Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by Mark_C
I agree that I'm outvoted.
I think your post was very interesting! For instance, what you wrote about the fingering, I also have noticed that what works best when playing hands separately, doesn't necessarily work best when playing hands together.
Which is why people practice hands together at one point and change the fingering if the hands separate fingering doesn't work. IOW if that happens it might add some time to learning the piece but shouldn't cause a problem later unless one was foolish enough to endlessly practice hands separately before one tried playing hands together.

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Interesting thread.

For most of my life I hated performing in front of people. Lots of embarrassing errors in pieces I could play well. Was never and issue in exams - no idea why. Then I just decided that it had to stop. Solutions:

Pretend I was performing when playing at home. Get fully into it. Make good habits.
Mistakes happen, but I can't change history and just look forward and don't worry about what went wrong
Constantly remind myself to relax and this is meant to be fun
Really lose myself in the music - don't think, just play and feel (so piece needs to be very secure)
Teach others - it really builds confidence to demonstrate and analyse
Build recovery points into every piece - if I go wrong I can always switch to a recovery point
When pretending to perform, never stop. If you were in a band you would have no choice but to recover and play on
Don't obsess over fingering - the music is always playing in my head and my fingers will recover somehow
Never miss opportunities to perform or demonstrate
Learn to pretend - I give myself confidence by saying nothing really matters
Picture the score. I do this a lot. I memorise the score as well as the piece. It's inside my head then
If you can improvise that helps (I can't do this very well on piano)


C212 used for me to delude myself I will one day be a good player, and to do a bit of teaching.
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Lots of good comments here - will get to more later.

I just wanted to Say, Mark C -- even though I'm not with you about the "Looking" aspect -- I think you're on to something about "micro" practicing. I do believe it's possible to practice so much or in so many different ways that we begin overthinking or over-attentionizing certain things that can throw us for a loop.
The pianist Seymour Bernstein talks a bit in his book about something similar to what I experience, and uses the apt analogy that "if you stare at word on a page for too long, it turns to gibberish" -- I think this is applicable here.

The question then...

How to undo!!

PianoLover --- yes. I know Claudio Arrau had a phase where he saw a psychiatrist and did an analysis early on in his career because he was "missing passages that he used to be able to play with his eyes closed"..... in his own words this was all because of his "Vanity".... (Not so sure what I think about that) As you say, it's a big financial investment for something that I have at this moment not enough confidence to invest in.

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How about trying to make the task more difficult by introducing distractors while you're practicing? Try to perform it for a friend while holding a conversation, and try to play while a movie or another piece of music is playing in the background. I think these things can help you simulate a performance situation better.

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An added perspective perhaps: the OP mentioned that he continued his further studies after a lapse (I think?).

He doesn't say for how long so I don't know how old he is. But something I've noticed with myself is that the older I get the less bold I become. There is something to be said for the sheer foolhardy overconfidence that naturally accompanies those in their youth which I think one naturally looses with age.

Along with this one's standards and expectations of oneself increase.

All of this while I experience that I have greater abilities than when I was young which does seem to be a contradiction. I think generally in other spheres of life as well, older people tend to act with more caution and reserve.

So in short - I would also suggest a possible psychological issue. Like some sort of mental block. This is just my own experience though.

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Originally Posted by ChristoVanRensburg
But something I've noticed with myself is that the older I get the less bold I become.

Now you don't say either what age you are. But something that I have noticed with my parents and their siblings is that this process can revert again, and on their way to get truly old (past 80), they slowly become less inhibited and more bold again.


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Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by ChristoVanRensburg
But something I've noticed with myself is that the older I get the less bold I become.

Now you don't say either what age you are. But something that I have noticed with my parents and their siblings is that this process can revert again, and on their way to get truly old (past 80), they slowly become less inhibited and more bold again.

Luckily I'm still some way from 80 laugh. (Little over halfway there.)

However, I could do with some of my former fearlessness!

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BTW: Are you related to the tennis player?

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There are some phrases in your original post that I find significant, likewise some absences.


“ever since I started taking music more seriously”

“I practice excellently. I really do” followed by a complex (to me) set of alternative ways of practicing.

“But when I play in front of people (or sometimes in the context of just a complete run through)”

“it ends up happening at least once in every piece I play that has relatively difficult passages.”

“I want to also mention that when I was a teenager and in the beginning of undergrad I did NOT have this problem. I was overall less of a good pianist and musician -- but this didn't happen.”

My comments, mainly questions – which you may have already asked yourself - are speculative and may be way off. How would you describe your level of satisfaction with your playing 'before and after' the more serious approach? How would you describe how much joy playing music gave/gives you 'before and after'? Who do you play for: solely/mainly for yourself, for others, or both somewhat equally? Are you a “Brendel” person (thinking/intellectual, careful/meticulous) or an Argerich person (emotional, edge of control, if she were not so technically brilliant) [You may have different views on these pianists!]

Who do you regard as the most important judge of your performances: you, your teacher, or your audience. What are the differences, if any, in your feelings, between when you practice/play and when you play/perform? What is your emotional reaction to conquering difficult passages and then failing/skipping in performance?

I do not believe it is basically “stage fright'. Maybe you have lost some of the joy; the absence of this word and other emotional words (except fear) may be significant or maybe they are just absent by chance. Your practice routine, which I am sure is fundamentally to be admired, is maybe not quite right for you: how much of a burden does it place on you, investing much time and energy on practice only for those gains to be lost when you play for real.

You appear to be suffering, in any case, from repeating unpleasant experiences so that your fear and/or that phenomenon of ingrained emotional/physical repetition has become frequent/common and I guess some process of cleansing or resetting may be needed. Playing for friends informally and not caring when slips occur? Because you do care – which is necessary for our best playing – but which can also cripple us when things, as now, for you, have gone negative.

Ignore anything (or everything1) that doesn't speak to you. Best wishes.

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True. If you have a portable piano that you can roll around to different rooms, or different locations - and if you really can play that performance consistently and reliably and accurately in all those locations, then it will be a mindset thing only if the issue keeps surfacing in the 'stage' arena - or when there's lots of people, and lots of strangers, and/or the feeling of 'pressure' situation (crunch time). One method is to really do ones best to completely ignore everybody. Or if that doesn't work, then think along the lines of ----- I sure am going to demonstrate what I can do, so that all of you can really enjoy what you're going to get from me. Or think of ----- I love piano so much, that I'm just going to play it to convey what I want them to hear from me. And just play the piano in the way you practised - regardless of what happens. Just keep going.

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Originally Posted by SouthPark
True. If you have a portable piano that you can roll around to different rooms, or different locations - and if you really can play that performance consistently and reliably and accurately in all those locations, then it will be a mindset thing only if the issue keeps surfacing in the 'stage' arena - or when there's lots of people, and lots of strangers, and/or the feeling of 'pressure' situation (crunch time). One method is to really do ones best to completely ignore everybody. Or if that doesn't work, then think along the lines of ----- I sure am going to demonstrate what I can do, so that all of you can really enjoy what you're going to get from me. Or think of ----- I love piano so much, that I'm just going to play it to convey what I want them to hear from me. And just play the piano in the way you practised - regardless of what happens. Just keep going.


Thinking ‘I’m going to show you how well I play’ doesn’t work for me: it puts the focus on not making mistakes and centers the performance on ME. What works for me is not making the performance sbiut me at all, but only the music: wanting the audience to hear why I find it special, concentrating on the sound, how go I phrase the music so that the audience really hears the lovely phrase; what is the composer saying— how can I emphasize that?


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If one method doesn't work for you ..... then try a different method, or a mix. Although, if the composer isn't around ..... then it's basically you that is putting words into the composer's mouth, and you're really emphasizing what you are actually saying. Your interpretation of it.

It is not about putting focus on not making mistakes. It actually puts focus on showing you at your best ..... which includes playing in the way that you wanted .... including the nuances and interpretation and the control.

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