Audition jitters

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by ricecakes230, Dec 4, 2013.

  1. ricecakes230

    ricecakes230 Pianissimo User

    Jan 15, 2013
    I have a audition in about a week and, I think my preparation needs just a few more finishing touches and I'll be ok. This is based on my practice. When I play a cut of the audition music for my directors and in front of my very very very very very loving trumpet section...I get jittery, nervous and my playing goes downhill. I can only imagine how nervous I'll be at the real deal audition. This audition doesn't have an audience that wants you to do good. This audition is known as Region auditions. If you live in Texas you'll know how this goes. I go into a room with about 30 high schoolers. All trumpets. We all one by one audition for a panel of judges. Keep in mind this is a classroom so the other players watch you play. (judges are concealed behind stands or something). This audition rallys the best of the best in the region. Texas UIL thing i guess. Anyway the judges grade hardcore and the other players stare at you hoping you crack every damn note on the music. I've been to this audition in middle school, but high school is 20 times more intense and stressful. If you have any advice, please share, I will be grateful. This is affecting my playing and I do not need that right now. Thanks :-)

    Just to share. These links are the etudes I have to play. The judges take a part of it and make us play it. We don't have to do the whole thing.
    2013-2014 TMEA Texas All-State Trumpet Etude #3 - YouTube
    2013-2014 TMEA Texas All-State Trumpet Etude #1 - YouTube
  2. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Hi ricecakes,
    You asked:
    " This is based on my practice. When I play a cut of the audition music for my directors and in front of my very very very very very loving trumpet section...I get jittery, nervous and my playing goes downhill.
    Ask yourself, "Why does my playing go downhill when I play in front of the people"?
    Your situation is simple. It's a matter of perspective.
    When we play, be it in front of an adjudicator, the trumpet line or a sold out performance at Wembly, no one wants to hear something that sucks. They want to be wowed. In fact, the audience is rooting for one hell of a performance. Your job? Give the people the same thing you want. A great performance. You and the listener are on the same page and want the same thing!!
    I'm sure you practice as you should but even with that, a person can mess up. One of the most enpowering things is when you realize that the people that are listening to you, support you, and want you to do a good job. Just this small change in thinking changes the whole nature of things. It goes from a tense environment to a softer friendlier environment. Let's face it, if you sucked or they didn't like you, they'd be on their smartphones tweetbooking or facespacing.
    Hope this helps
  3. ricecakes230

    ricecakes230 Pianissimo User

    Jan 15, 2013
    Thank you. Though, me making the audition, it means there is one less spot for the other players to get. We aren't allowed to be one phones or talk. Just sit there and listen. It sucks but I will take in what you said.
  4. PiGuy_314

    PiGuy_314 Pianissimo User

    Oct 12, 2013
    One of the things that took me far to long to realise about trumpet playing is the fun factor. I found myself forgetting, "you do this because you love it." I became a bit neurotic and stressful about every single note. Whether I would crack it. Whether I would be flat (flugelhorn feature...the horn was very cold). Whether the band would do something that would mess me up.

    And I forgot to just sit back, relax, and blow my face off. I just needed to remember that I do this because I love to do it. Maybe I'm saying this because a jazz guy, but I believe that when you play, your playing should be a reflection of your feelings. Proving that you really do love it. Let every note speak convince the crowd that you love music.

    Once I got in that mindset, and remembered to just have fun, things came easier. Easy? Not really. I still had to stay alert. But easier.

    Maybe that helped you. Maybe not. But there's my two cents. You love trumpet playing, right?

    Prove it.
  5. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

    May 7, 2011
    Be prepared... of course. But have the attitude that YOU are the guy THEY need to be nervous about. You are just there laying it down. THEY have to top it.
  6. kehaulani

    kehaulani Fortissimo User

    May 14, 2011
    Hawaian homey
    Here are some things that have helped me:

    Don't practice until you get it right. Practice until you can't get it wrong.

    I try to take my ego out of the equation to this extent - I think of myself as a conduit of the music, not as the central figure in the performance. That is, there is the composer, his music which flows ~through~ me out to the listeners. It's not about me, it's about the music.

    I have a "don't give a ****" attitude when I play. That means a healthy combination of not giving a rat's ass how it comes out while, at the same time, having the seemingly contradictory goal of performing as well as possible. By this I mean, once all the die has been cast, let it all hang out when you play and don't be concerned about mistakes.

    Get a good night's rest and eat well. And don't try to start this the day/night before. Do it habitually for at least some days beforehand.

    Lastly, I have learned a simple relaxation response conditioned at first with hypnosis and then in application, with a simple expulsion of air combined with the phrase-thought, "Just . . . relax". Look into simple breathing exercises for tension reduction. They can help considerably.

    Your situation is filled with stress. If it's any consolation, when I played at my first contest (for which I received the gold medal), one judge wrote that I needed to both slow down and decrease the size my vibrato. The culprit? Actually, it was my legs shaking from sheer terror. It'll happen . . . or it won't. Sometimes you can't control it. Just listen to the advice everyone has given, and keep in mind that in a hundred years what you did or didn't do will be insignificant. Keep a perspective and Good Luck!
  7. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Doctors, real doctors will tell us that nervousness and excitement have entirely different hormones dumped into our bloodstreams, but as the one undergoing the experience we'll note similar reactions. Pulse rate goes up, palms sweat, all that. The real difference to me, regardless of which hormones are at play, is one of attitude. Am I nervous? That means I will suck. Am I excited? That means I'm going to play the heck out of the piece.

    Before a performance we will be tense. Is our tension caused by anticipation, or dread? We get to decide that, not a jury, not ravenous players wishing us ill.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2013
  8. Sidekick

    Sidekick Mezzo Piano User

    Apr 14, 2011
    London UK
    For along time I was a karate instructor and I think what you are describing is pre fight nerves. It is the fight or flight response kicking in and we all get it in some form or another.

    You have clearly done the preparation and you seem to be more concerned with the affect of the venue rather than the music. This, I think, is a good thing, as it means that you just need to look at this from the other end to make a big difference.

    When you are about to go in to the room, just remind yourself that you have done harder things than this - you are just playing a trumpet after all and you love playing the trumpet.

    Then take a moment to try to block out the things around you, take a calm and deep breath: focus on getting that first note clean and clear and trust yourself - you know what comes next.

    in my experience, it is important not to think about starting at 100 and losing points when things don't go entirely to plan, but rather that everyone is starting with a clean sheet with Zero points and building up to final score. That way in the back of your brain, rather than getting frustrated if things don't go to plan, every great note reinforces how well you are doing in building your total. It also means that you can push toward then end to get those last few points on the board, no matter how it has gone up to then.

    You can do this and deep down you know you can.

    Believe, after all it's nearly Christmas and all sorts of magical things happen at Christmas.
  9. trumpeterb

    trumpeterb Pianissimo User

    Nov 16, 2003
    Performance jitters, or Music Performance Anxiety (MPA), is very real. It is a condition that is very difficult, if not impossible, to completely eliminate, but we can learn how to cope and somewhat control it. There are both physiological and psychological effects, both short and long-term. The physiological effects include sweaty palms, shakes, dry mouth, and involuntary muscle motions. These are part of the "fight or flight" reactions that humans experience when faced with danger, stressful situations, etc., and are created by your body's release of certain chemicals (cortisol is the main one). Psychologically MPA can create unrealistic or illogical views that the judges or audience are against you (which is NOT the case), that you are somehow inferrior, or that for some reason there is much more riding on that performance than is really the case. Unfortunately, there is really no way to eliminate your body's natural tendencies. Different people experience this in different ways and at differing intensities. Some doctors prescribe medication to help control the chemical reactions in your body that create the physical effects. These are called beta blockers, and while they do work to an extent, they are controversial, particularly when it comes to auditions. Some have compared musicians' use of beta blockers to athletes' use of steroids (althought not exactly the same thing, you get the point...they may give an advantage to some people over others). There was a famous study done in 1908 I believe that found that there is an inverted "U" shape curve representing levels of performance and MPA. This is known as the Yerkes-Dodson continum. Yerkes-Dodson law states that a little bit of MPA is actually desirable for many performers, and the researchers found that performance quality actually increased as a result of less-severe MPA experiences. Performance quality declined once MPA intensity hit certain levels, BUT it also declined if the levels were too low. So what should you take from this study...well, it is important that you understand that it is OK, and quite frankly normal, to experience MPA at some level during auditions. Expect it, and as Berry Green (author of "The Inner Game of Music"....I highly recommend you read this) noted, give yourself permission to be nervous. The secret is how to control it and to develop the "proper" mindset when auditioning. I agree 100% with those that have already posted that you should prepare "until you can't play it wrong." Results of a study I conducted on MPA less than a year ago indicated that lack of musical preparation was one of the main contributing factors to increased intensity of MPA. Be prepared. A second contributing factor to MPA experiences was the makeup of the the audience judgemental, mean, etc., are there "important" people in the audience (as if anyone were really unimportant), etc. A solid understanding that the judges are on YOUR side and are ROOTING FOR YOU is essential. They want to see you succeed, and they are on your team. It isn't you against the really isn't you against anyone for that matter. You are there to share music with people...and as someone here already said, you are just the conduit through which that music is conveyed....the canvass on which a painting is painted. Having a proper understanding of your audience will also help you to control MPA, at least according to my study. Finally, do not dwell on mistakes....everyone makes them, and you must permit yourself to make them too. If you crack a note, miss an accidental, or similar, You can't get it back, but if you dwell on the mistake it might snowball into more. Move on as if it were correct. When I audition, I take that position...everything I play is correct. If I don't think this way I find myself having internal conversations, imagining what the judges might be thinking about that "horrible mistake" I just made, or otherwise internally talking myself out of a good performance. I just play...I don't judge...I just play. Judging is not your job at that point, so just play and consider everything you play to be correct in your own mind. If you are prepared, most likely it will be anyway. I hope this helps, and good luck to you! Let us know how it goes.
  10. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    I must not be a real doctor then 'cause there is only one hormone in my book that does this... it's epinephrine (adrenaline); except in the case of Kingtrumpet... for him it's mouse urine.

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