can I reduce the stress?

Discussion in 'Orchestra / Solo / Chamber Music' started by knight07, Nov 21, 2005.

  1. knight07

    knight07 New Friend

    Sep 7, 2005
    Hi, I'm a junior in high school and I love to play trumpet! Someday I would like to make it into a career. One problem that I have, though, is auditioning. Whenever I walk into an audition I start shaking out of nervousness, and my air support decreases, also. This makes my playing sound shaky and my tone airy. I know that I am a really good player when I am not private teacher said that I have the potential to play proffessionally someday. Is there any ways that I can prevent or at least reduce this stress during auditions? I know that this might be a normal thing that a lot of people experience, but I think that if I were not as nervous, I would do much better in my auditions. Thanks!
  2. BigBadWolf

    BigBadWolf Piano User

    Nov 30, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    Talk to your physician about Inderal... short of that eat bananas
  3. Rick Chartrand

    Rick Chartrand Piano User

    Nov 22, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    This is not Manny but I'd like to add my 2 cents.

    Just remember that the people you are auditioning for are just people like you...nothing more, nothing less. This will help you develop an attitude of confidence in your own abillity if you feel as though they are your peers. Actually they are your peers...just on a higher level of accomplishment.

    Another thing you can do is on a humorous level (if you can stop yourself from laughing while doing it) is to picture the committee in their underwear...LOL it works.

    Or you can close your eyes and just picture yourself playing in a situation that you play best in; ie in your room etc. I think people need to understand that individuals of great accomplishment are people who need to be respected for their accomplishments...not feared or awed :cool:

    When I met Miles Davis in 1991, I just shook his hand and said 'Keep the Genius fires burning man.' I wasnt afraid. If anything I'd have loved to gone out and had a plate of ribs with him and chatted with him about music. But then again thats just me...the way I was brought up :cool:
  4. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    Not Manny by any stretch, but I'd like to add my $.02.

    Let me first start by saying that I do not advocte using medications. This is for 2 reasons:
    1. You have the means within you to handle this.
    2. I like to be aware. Fully aware. Of everything.

    Try the banana. I've heard lots of good things about that.

    That said, I have much else to say. I'll try to be organized.

    Nervousness is parallel to excitedness in terms of what your body does. (Shortness of breath, drymouth, racing heartbeat, loss of mental focus, shakiness). This is also a very natural reaction to a very unnatural act.

    The first thing we need to do is gain control of our breathing. From that stem about 90% of all performance problems, so getting that back is critical. Take a few deep breaths; in through the nose and out again through the mouth, forming a pucker as if whistling on the exhale. (Yogis know this as a cleansing breath). That should alleviate most of the physical ailments, except maybe for dry mouth. Try to drop your shoulders.

    I was talking this weekend with a very fine clarinettist who makes himself yawn before performances to get the breathing moving.

    When you take the stage (or enter the performing area), ALWAYS take the time to adjust the space to YOUR comfort and YOUR needs as much as possible. If the stand is too low, raise it. If it's too tall, lower it. Too close, move it away. Too far away, move it closer. If you can and prefer to sit and the chair has been moved away by the last player, move it back. Take your time and do not rush setting up. (But don't dilly-dally; just be efficent).

    Another critical area is preparation. How well we are prepared goes a long way to asuage any nerves or will comopund any nervousness we may feel if we are less than ready. You should be able to perform your piece in its entirety a couple weeks before the scheduled event. Multiple times in a row. Why? So you can have a reserve of endurance; so you know you have it. Are you playing music that is techinically so far beyond you that you don't even stand a chance of learning it? Is it an appropriate challenge (a bit of a stretch, but doable?) Is it your absolute hardest thing, right at the edge of your ability? Some of us do well under those circumstances, but others of us like to feel we have a bit of reserve. Determine which group you belong to.

    Also, consider the following thoughts:
    Ask yourself: what am I afraid of? Are you afraid of falling on your face? What's the absolute worst thing that will happen? You will either be released with a "thank you but" letter to follow, you will get a rating that you don't feel satisfied with, you might feel embarassed, but, you'll also get up the next day and it will be behind you. So will the rest of the world.

    OR, are you really afraid that you might be offered the position? That you'll get that A+ or 100 or whatever rating is at the topmost elite? That YOU will be the section leader?

    Your mental approach to an audition is opften the key determining factor as to how nervous you will get. For me, I take them for the experience. I have a "day job", and do not need to get into college, so I am much more relaxed about the whole process. I used to get so nervous at auditions even just seeing the sign posted "AUDITIONS. Cat caller for new Dr. Seuss play needed" would have given me fits. It's all about perspective.

    In the practice room, simulate your nervousness condition by running in place. This causes shortness of breath, weakness, racing pulse. Begin dealing with it in your practice, so it becomes commonplace in your performance. Keep a bottle of water handy, and rinse out your mouth (not drink) to aid dry mouth.

    That's alot of info. I hope it's organized enough to be helpful, not just a bunch of random suggestions.[/i]
  5. joshuasullins

    joshuasullins Pianissimo User

    Nov 9, 2005
    Silverdale, WA
    What tpter1 said are all good points and things you can certainly try.

    I think that the bottom line is that nervousness is a mental thing. You just have to get over it. Tell yourself wahtever you need to. I can let you know what I do. I tell myself, "this doesn't matter. these people are no better than me, why do I care what anyone else thinks?" That seems conceited, I know, but it works, everytime. Just be prepared for the audition. Know that you are prepared and that you have done your best. Go in there and convince yourself that, whoever you are playing in front of, their opinions mean nothing.

    Hope this helps!

  6. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    What's the difference between your state of mind when you are practicing a piece for auditions and actually playing the audition?

    When you practice you give yourself numerous "outs" and second and third shots at material and you have the opportunity to explain away imperfections in your presentation that make perfect sense to you.

    At auditions you have one shot, maybe two if everything else you play goes well. During practice your imperfections are minimized, during a performance they are maximized. Neither perception has anything to do with reality.

    The answer to doing well at auditions has everything to do with the quality of your fundamentals. You can play in tune 99% of the time or you can't. You can play a beautiful pianissimo 99% of the time or you can't. You can hit a high C in tune with proper intonation and security or you can't. You can't go into an audition wondering if you're going to be able to play something. You have to believe you can play it better than anyone else on that day.

    If you go into an audition with doubt in your mind about your fundamentals you'll have every reason to be nervous.

    Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. Solid fundamentals gives you the freedom to be a good musician in any circumstance. Nerves are slavemasters. Free yourself by claiming mastery over your sound, technique, intonation, rhythm, and phrasing.

  7. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Forte User

    Oct 11, 2004
    Farnham (a place too smal
    Practice auditioning.

    If you are playing a couple of pieces and some excerpts (for example) set up a session with your teacher where they take on the guise of an audition panel - they don't greet you in the same manner they normally might, they go into "audition panel" mode - most decent teachers are able to do this without a major problem.
    If you find that it is the unfamiliarity of the audition panel that is the problem, ask if your teacher might be able to get a couple of their colleagues in to give you a practice audition.
    Maybe see if you can get a local pro to give you an audition a week before the main one.

    The audition experience can be a very disconcerting environment (some of my worst ever playing has been during auditions), you should prepare for the event in every way possible.

    BTW - I would NOT suggest picturing the panel in their underwear - going by the average age of the members of the panel, do you really want that picture in your mind when you are playing?!?!?
  8. cornetguy

    cornetguy Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 12, 2005
    Saint Paul, MN
    i second everythign that had been said and want to add one thing.

    my biggest problem is me. what barry green calls self one starts getting in the way with "YOU'RE GONNA SCREW UP" and then I start to loose self confidence, self doubt comes in... and you know what the end result is.

    read the inner game of music and a soprano on her head.
  9. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    There's a poster that has a signature that reads ( I'm paraphrasing):

    "Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they can't get it wrong."

    That's very powerful and spot on. That's how you have to go into an audition. If your audition consisted of reciting the alphabet you'd get the gig, right?

    Well, yes and no. We can all recite the alphabet because it's fundamental to our learning since our earliest days. It boils down to that fundamental knowledge of the alphabet and the best (according to the comittee) presentation of the alphabet on that day. However, knowing the alphabet is the fundamental to performing it for the commitee. You either know it or you don't.

    Auditions are cruel neccessities. It's about judgements. You have to be so solid that you can present yourself without apology and be able to say "This is as good as it gets for me. Take it or leave it." and be comfortable with the decision the commitee makes. They have to whittle down the numbers until they get whom they want. You have to be happy with the musician you are and believe that you have done everything necessary to prepare within reason. Whatever happens, past that, happens. it's very liberating to go into the performance that way but it takes A LOT of work.

  10. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    Too add to this:
    It reminds me of something I read on Jay Friedman's site: "style wins auditions".

    He goes on to discuss how ANYONE can say the pledge of allegience. But to make someone stop dead in their tracks; to say it and convey how deeply you believe those words to be true, takes the sames skill set as it does to win a job. Your voice, its quality, how your phrase it, where you place the emphasis, and how convincingly you say it.

    What I gather from that is that everybody at an audition basically can say the right words (that is, play all the right notes at the right time); but you must separate yourself by making the committee stop "twiddling their thumbs" as he says.

    To get to that point, to relax enough to do that, to be able to concentrate at the level required and work through the nerves is what preparation is all about.

    As Manny said earlier, fundamentals will get you there because then you won't have to think about them.

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