Any ideas why I get ambushed?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by BachStrad1, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. BachStrad1

    BachStrad1 Pianissimo User

    Apr 9, 2012
    Kalamazoo MI
    I played through high school, was a performance major in college, continued playing and teaching after college, took the inevitable (it seems) few years off and made a comeback 4 years ago. I overcame any stage fright I had by the time I was partway through college. Performing isn't something I could do if every performance were accompanied by overwhelming, "bring a spare pair" terror. I enjoy performing and I currently perform at least once a month and sometimes as often as once or more a week. My performances range from being the principle second in a wind ensemble to lead trumpet in a dance band to a featured soloist. I have noticed, however, that some performances are accompanied by what I'll call "ambush stage fright". I'll get on stage and be seized by unreasonable nervousness. The first time it happened, I thought it was because I was taken out of my comfort zone of being in the section and put at the front of the stage, almost within reach of the audience for a feature (it was something I had performed before, not a difficult piece). I dismissed it. Same auditorium, playing a trio with the wind ensemble, up front, no nerves. I've noticed that some of the dances inexplicably get to me this way, too. Suddenly, I'm nervous for no good reason. The latest incident was a peformance at church. I can hear myself trembling on the recording, although I will admit no one else did. I was well rehersed for this performance and for goodness' sake, the church was nothing but old people! It's not like it was a major audition. I thought maybe it was mentally attaching importance to certain performances, but that doesn't explain suddenly being nervous in the middle of a dance even without a mic being shoved in my bell unexpectedly. Just wondering if anyone else has had this issue or had any ideas of what's happening in my head?
  2. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    IMO, there is a difference in attitude when playing in front of an audience. Am I just playing a song or helping to communicate a message? Is it just notes in my head to be regurgitated or an expression of what is in my heart? I play in front of thousands weekly at my church so I am used to playing in front of a crowd. The times where I've been "nervous" is when we have to play a new song too soon i.e., singer hears a song Wednesday, brings it to "rehearsal" Thursday, we play through it a few times and then have to do it Sunday! And for good measure, we change the key and add to or skip the bridge. Experience is the best way to overcome being "ambushed". As far as what's in your head..., what ever you put there. :D
  3. shooter

    shooter Piano User

    Jan 12, 2007
    I feel your pain BachStrad1. When you figure it out, let me know. Heck, I get nervous just talking in front of a crowd. Guess I don't like all those eyes on me.
  4. mgcoleman

    mgcoleman Mezzo Forte User

    Jun 22, 2010
    The one and only linkage I have found to being nervous is familiarity/memorization, which equates to the point Toby made.
  5. Churchman

    Churchman Mezzo Piano User

    Apr 26, 2012
    I think the poster is suddenly being overcome in the middle of a performance - which until that point was going just fine. If that is the case, I sympathise, been there. Will be there again. No good reason for it imho - just one of those things, like a golfer getting a yip over one putt in the middle of his round.
  6. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    P.S., don't listen to the negative thought that bombard your mind.
  7. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    The method that works for me is to try to get lost in the music. I usually play better when I am emotionally and mentally engrossed in a piece.
    So it is possible you are losing your concentration.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013
  8. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Lack of familiarity, being outside of the comfort zone is what triggers anxiety, which is the reaction you are describing. Anxiety is a good thing designed for survival of the species. When we were roaming the savanna in search or food to bring back to our village tribes, the sense that there was a saber tooth tiger honing in on us put us on edge so that we could be better aware of surviving a potential attack; going from being the hunter, suddenly becoming the hunted. The ones that got the adrenaline rush (anxiety) were the ones more likely to survive. So this is a natural event that comes out of uncertainty or lack of familiarity.

    There are a lot a variables in your report so it would be hard to figure out exactly the trigger without scheduling some sit down time to hone in on the trigger. Comfort with the chart is an important factor. It sounds like the audience is not such an important variable, but comfort with the ensemble is still in question. Then there is the situation from which you just came to the performance, and the situation to where you are going to after the performance that factors in. So it is hard to advise for specific help without knowing more intimate details.

    For the short term, when anxiety hits, excuse yourself, go to a bathroom or out of the way hallway, pop out a paper bag and breath in and out until you begin to feel giddy. Carbon dioxide is an amazingly effective drug, and you can use it as such from this advice. Then go back to the rehearsal, and have at it. However if you are with a viola player, the anxiety you are feeling is real, and you should attack said viola player and ravage that instrument until it is reduced to splinters so it can no longer cause harm.
  9. Brad-K

    Brad-K Piano User

    Jun 18, 2011
    The trick to overcoming stage fright, is to strip down to your underwear.

    .........:think:...wait, that's not right.
  10. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Oh Great!! So your solution is to instill anxiety, fright and panic in everyone else. Hmmm... it might just work.

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