Getting nervous during performances

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by The Weez, Feb 24, 2009.

  1. The Weez

    The Weez Piano User

    Dec 23, 2008
    Wichita, KS
    I know this seems like a novice topic, but from childhood I have always been very shy. I always ran away from public speaking and the like as I would be choked with nervousness. I seldom did solos in band, and when I did I was nervous as heck and the only way I got through it was knowing that there was an entire band around me.

    Fast forward to today. I'm 30 years old and my self confidence has grown tenfold from my highschool days. Nevertheless I find myself nervous when I perform at church. I am the only wind instrument so I no longer have a band with which to blend in and feel like I can't be singled out.

    I came to the realization of how much this effects me when my dad showed up at church a couple weeks ago (my mom comes every Saturday). Not sure why HE made me so nervous, but if my efficiency during rehearsal was 80% (just to have a number to go by), my efficiency during the performace was 40% at best. I was horrible. My tone became stuffy, I was shaky, notes above the staff became a real chore, etc.

    So I'm looking for some tips and techniques to help with this. I am performing every weekend, so that helps. Last weekend I had a duet with a vocalist. I was a bit nervous, but it turned out very good. I know that if had not been nervous, it would have turned out EXCELLENT.

    I appriciate all your thoughts. :)

  2. Sofus

    Sofus Forte User

    Jul 26, 2008
    I think you must ask yourself:

    Why am I here?

    a) Is it because I want to get something, or
    b) is it because I want to give something?

    I believe that the feeling we all have to some extent
    of not being supercapable superstars will have a
    negative impact on our performances that is dependant
    upon whether a) or b) is dominating us.

    If a) is dominating, then every misstake we make is a threat
    since what we generally want when performing is recognition.

    If on the other hand b) is dominating, then we accept our misstakes
    with more ease since we are there to give joy to others (and these others
    always are much less critical to our playing than we are!).

    Of course both a) and b) are always present to some extent, but
    the more we can move towards b), performing to joy others, the
    better performing will feel to ourselves.

    All above assumes that we donĀ“t play things that are too difficult for us!
    If we try to play something in public that we barely can play at home, then
    nothing can rescue us, but this is an entirely different matter . . .
  3. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Indianapolis, In
    As I have said many times in this forum, I too had the problem early in my playing career and still do from time to time. However, I had a teacher tell me one time to be as prepared as possible and go in with the attitude that I am going to give them the best I have to offer. If they like it great if not oh well. It really does help.
  4. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN

    I had the same problem. I suffered for years with an unhealthy level of anxiety because I just didn't know there was any other way to live. Here is a web site for a well respected center that helps people deal with anxiety. Midwest Center - Home

    Don't just accept that "that's the way I am and I need to get over it".
    There are reasons why people have excessive anxiety and once you understand that you can start removing it from your life.

    I very rarely feel nervous in any performance situation since I learned how to over come anxiety.

    Hope this helps,

  5. wiseone2

    wiseone2 Artitst in Residence Staff Member

    Nov 19, 2003
    Though I perform a lot, I hadn't played a recital in many years.
    Yes, I felt butterflies when I walked on stage. My first piece was Adolphus Hailstork's Variations for Trumpet......a difficult, but fun piece. After the first notes I was into it!
    The more you play in front of an audience the better.
    The Boy Scout motto, "Be prepared" always works.
    Enjoy your skills and your gift of communication.
  6. et_mike

    et_mike Mezzo Forte User

    Oct 16, 2007
    Chesapeake, VA
    And reading into your post a little.... it sounds like a great way for you to follow everyone's advice is to perform for your dad. Invite him to rehearsals or take you trumpet and music to your parents house. When you become comfortable playing for him... all you have to do is imagine him in the audience everytime.
  7. Clarence

    Clarence Mezzo Forte User

    Jun 23, 2005
    san diego
    Just picture the audience in their underwear!

    That one use to work real good for me.
    you have to feel comfortable in your own skin.
    can u dig it....i knew you could.

    peace and hairgrease!

  8. et_mike

    et_mike Mezzo Forte User

    Oct 16, 2007
    Chesapeake, VA
    I used to do that to get through public speaking in college Clarence... until I started giggling during my freshman finals.... and couldn't stop. :oops:
  9. NickD

    NickD Forte User

    Great comments, all!

    Sofus, for ME you nailed it RIGHT HERE:

    copied from your post
    a) Is it because I want to get something, or
    b) is it because I want to give something?

    As long as you're working with B, NOTHING can make you nervous!

    I would also fold in a bit of love here. OK, I know I'm sounding like a guy who grew up in the late 60's. Well, this is because I AM a guy who grew up then! ;-) Seriously, there is no problem we can't LOVE our way through. You love to play and want to share it. If this is your "mantra" you'll be fine.

    The only thing I can think of here that one might have to deal with is a sense of fear of rejection: "What if I play something I love and they hate it?" Again, this has to not matter to us. It is the spirit with which you give. This, IMHO, matters even MORE than the notes you play.


  10. The Weez

    The Weez Piano User

    Dec 23, 2008
    Wichita, KS
    Thanks for the comments guys! I definitely have a problem with anxiety (my dr and I are working on it - I barely sleep b/c of it), and the "fear of rejection" thing rings a little too true.

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