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Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by hhsTrumpet, Dec 14, 2012.
Again... The key to success is all in you mind.
I used to deal with it as well. It leaves with experience. You have to believe that. That's why you need to have as much experience as you can. Most people shy away, and never breakthrough this barrier. However, a few practical suggestions. One - acknowledge that you are nervous. Two - breathe deeply. Three - right before you play, put in your ipod and listen to some music that just makes you feel good. Four - Be hydrated, but don't keep going to the water right before - you will be washing away some natural moistness necessary for good working tonguing. Instead, break up a piece of peppermint and tuck it into your cheek, to combat the dry mouth.
You'll make it!
Some people don't like to be judged... maybe a self esteem problem?? Their lack of belief that they deserve to receive the position and accolades that the audition is all about leads to terrible stage fright. Even the most talented and prepared suffer from it (like Donny Osmond and Barbara Streisand).
You gotta own it and not really care about the outcome. Whether they like you or not has no impact on you as a player or person. You will be fine.
My former teacher says that if they pick someone else for the gig don't worry about it... just go practice more.
If you believe that your problem is not performance or preparation related, but rather anxiety related then the other's advice about seeking out playing opportunities is good... You need to become so used to public solo performance that it is no big deal. In a way you are just practicing how to perform!
Aromatherapy is good to help refocus the brain... I like orange & citrus. A good whiff of that orange oil helps me block out what's going on around me. Don't look at the judges or audience while you are performing, just concentrate on the music as if you were by yourself.
Gary is right. I have no experience of auditions but some of other, similar situations (flight tests) and here is some of what I've learned: How to get your mind to work for you again is the problem. One key element is to achieve a certain level of detachment. You have to be able to play without being attached to any kind of preconceived outcome, because the moment you do anything deviating fron the preconception, you'll feel that sense of loss and all will go downhill from there. What you do at a given moment is what's important, try to "discover" the piece as you play it. The overall result will be the sum of all these subparts. Whatever the outcome is, nobody is going to die, it's not that big a deal.
I didn't start to do well with auditions or solo pieces until I took speech. From there, I did all of my normal band stuff and I did a few dramatic pieces in National Forensic League competitions.
That's right, fellas. I was in the NFL, ever before I was even out of high school.
When I started doing that, I had to teach myself to focus on what I was doing, not on the people that were watching me do it. Not only did I focus on it, I immersed myself in it. I fondly remember my senior year solo & ensemble piece (this wasn't a competition as such, as all you ever really "won" was a medal, and not a chair on a band). I found an arrangement of Pavane (Barber) for trumpet and piano. Now, my aunt is one of those piano players that doesn't bother with sheet music any more. Once she figures out the melody and the chord progressions, then she's good. She played accompaniment, and we must have rehearsed that thing a thousand times before I was meant to deliver it before the judges. The last few minutes before the actual performance, though, I felt those butterflies and I was afraid that they'd notice. Pavane has a lot of long tones which have to be delivered delicately and precisely, the exact opposite of the kind of piece showy performers like to choose. A wavering diaphram might not show up on a rendition of Sweet Georgia Brown but you hold a high F for two measures you can hear it. But, my aunt must have noticed, and told me something that earned me chairs on every competition band I went for that year.
"Don't perform for them," she said. "Perform for you."
I dove into that piece with every bit of breath and soul I had. By the time I got to the end of it, I wasn't even paying attention to the judges. And it was probably one of the best performances I've ever given. That piece has held a special place in my heart ever since.
So, next time you're staring down a couple of judges, don't even think about them. Just do it for you and let the music do the work. I agree with the answers that doing a little streetside work might help bring that out.
Let's just take a look at what anxiety does:
1) it feeds on everything that is not a solid HABIT
2) it makes us concentrate on the gun, not pulling the trigger
3) destroys timing, leading to the NEXT crash
There are more, but that is enough for now. Let's talk about strategy, THE NUMBER ONE MISTAKE THAT I NOTICE WHEN ADJUDICATING IS LACK OF PRACTICED BREATHING. Let me explain, most "less experienced players grab a piece of sheet music and start playing. In the practice room, everything works OK, but we breathe when we need to, not when we should. Before playing any piece for the first time, add breathing marks and FORCE YOURSELF to use them. When your breathing gets out of sync while playing, your sound isn't supported - you have to use more face muscles to compensate - pressure on the chops goes up decreasing airflow even more, your timing gets messed up because you have to breathe in the middle of a phrase to get through. In addition, the reduced amount of air turns a "panic process" on (adrenaline) because the brain ALWAYS gets oxygen first.
So, the first step to getting your act together is to get your breathing together. Forget about changing ANYTHING else until this is accomplished. Yoga, martial arts, bow and arrow, swimming, correct practicing meditation are all good to strengthen the HABITS that lead us through times of trouble.
Because wind instruments sound better when you BLOW instead of SUCK. It is the optimal place to focus your first efforts.
A bit later on you will discover that it takes THOUSANDS of repetitions to commit something indelibly to memory. All of the playing basics belong there. The only thing left for performance is CREATIVITY. That is unleashed when everything else is in place.
By the way, the proper first breath ALWAYS starts with a deep EXHALE and then filling up with fresh air. Do a search on my "Circle of Breath" posts. There should be about a hundred of them spread over time. They all contain the same information because the truth NEVER changes. Without a foundation, every house will collapse when the wind blows too hard............
Phil, thanks and let me try to illustrate by example to drive this concept home.
When I left my undergraduate life behind and moved to Ft. Collins to begin graduate school, I had an interview with my Department Chair of Chemistry regarding the value of being at Colorado State. He was a jazz trombonist and our conversation quickly turned to the music scene at CSU. He informed me they have the best big band in the land and at that I said to him, perhaps I should try out. He quickly tried to squalch that idea, stating it was only for music majors. Well my girlfriend at the time told me not to listen to him and go for the tryout. So I did as she said.
The day of the tryout I had never felt such nerves. My stomach ached, my mouth felt like I had sucked on cotton balls all day, and I entered the music department with hesitation and the feeling of what the hell am I doing here. When I entered the building, I saw a line of trumpet players holding their horns that weaved among 5 hallways. At that point, all the anxiety just bleed from my system. I walked into that audition with absolute total resolve that I was only there to play for myself as I did not have the chance to compete among rest. I remember my attitude in front of three judges, "I am here to show them how I can play" and got down to business. The audition was 3 sight reading pieces and one chord chart that they asked me to improvise over with no accompaniment or background recording to play over. I thanked them when they said I was finished, and I walked home with no fear, only thinking, I did show them what I could do and was proud of myself.
Two days later I went back to the music department to read the results that were to be announced at noon. I was there at the posting. I read the 5th band list... name was not there. I read the 4th band list... name was not there. I read the 3rd band list... name was not there. I started to walk away and heard people exclaim... Onady... who is this Onady. I walked over to the first band listing and at the top of the list as lead player was the name Onady.
Here is a cut from a CD released by my band mates serveral months after I moved to NYC. https://soundcloud.com/#doctor-jazz/new-life
This quality ensemble was the beginning to the rest of my professional career in jazz.
My views are as follows and have only recently been discovered (the last months) but I found are crucial to performance.I would suspect almost every teacher (both musical and academic) you have ever been taught by has once said to you "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail" and that is the truth! If you have prepared well, you should walk into the audition room knowing you can play the pieces!My personal other "motto" I go by is "Why be nervous about something that you have nurtured everyday, and something so precious that you are trying to present?!" "Why be nervous about performing when, if you succeed in the audition, you will be performing anyway?!" Just have fun and enjoy it! Have a laugh or joke with the panel (if the situation is right) but when it comes down to playing be as focussed, expressive and emotionally engaged you can be, as if it were your last ever performance! At the end of the day, in my opinion, the most effective thing about music is hearing the simplest of tunes played musically. Hundreds of notes are impressive, and if you practice long and diligently enough you will get there! But the key to performance is musically and commitment, so what if you make a mistake! (you can worry about that later!) You're a trumpet player! If you are going to make a mistake (not consciously I hope!) let it be big! I hope this helps!
You might want to get a prescription (I take propanolol) for a performance pill to erase your nervousness. This can help you build up confidence again. Once you have regained your confidence, you'll be able to audition/perform/etc. in any situation with much more confidence WITHOUT taking a pill.
This is assuming that you're THOROUGHLY prepared for your auditions, though...
EDIT: And also what Rowuk said. His advice overrides anything I said. Still, if you find yourself unable to overcome your breathing habits, you might want to try what I said. In fact, when you have confidence with your performances/auditions through ANY means, your are building good habits for those situations. After a while, even when you get nervous the first time you perform again WITHOUT the pill, you already find yourself breathing as well as when you're in the practice room.
The doctor is in... Really in.