Nerves, adrenalin etc that may affect your performance

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trumpetnick, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

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    Recently, threads and comments touching on how nerves and uncontrolled adrenalin may affect a performance/audition seem to multiply on TM. So I figured out, that it maybe helpful for many members to put it all in one thread and add some suggestions for dealing with the problem. I don't think that this issue has been addressed and resumed in one thread yet.
     
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Nick,
    this time of year is school band concert season and we will get many more such posts for players wanting to doctor up symptoms of bad practice habits.

    Granted, there are real issues with nerves (in my case because of blood pressure 215/150). I have found no evidence in recent threads that qualifies though.

    Nerves is something that is VERY dangerous to handle on the internet. Hypechondria, Ciberchondria are common scenarios for the folks looking for something to worry about. A doctor is the first stop for serious nerve problems not google.

    Since I have been taking my blood pressure pills my playing returned to what it was before. The blood pressure was triggered in my case by sleep apnea, which I have addressed with a CPAP maschine.

    I am very reserved about this subject because in many cases treatments are recommended that are way out of line with the symptoms. I will be very strict in monitoring this thread to make sure it does not get out of line and that health risks accompany any potentially dangerous diagnosis.
     
  3. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

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    I believe that breathing can be affected by stage fright through blood pressure, insomnia, lack of experience and probably some other factors. I don't claim this to be a fact, but some recent experience of mine makes me think that. I guess that if you loose control of your breathing and don't manage for any reason to get it together in time during performance you can blame your preparation for all...or would you?
     
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Nick,
    the first reading of any piece for me is with a pencil and without the horn. The breathing marks go in first. Themes and variations are identified and the basic meaning is researched. I never start working on a piece without the breathing marks penciled in.

    Losing control of the breathing happens when that aspect has not been as thoroughly trained as it should have been. It is easy to get careless when our behavior in the practice room seems decent.....................

    Leave NOTHING to chance. Breathing is also a musical aspect, treat it with the same respect and articulation or range!
     
  5. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

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    I think what worries most of these kids is "what if " , what if I crack ,forget to come in, play a wrong note etc. etc. They want to know how we can be calm before and during a performance. Of course experience is number one,they have to realize that if you do play a clam the roof isn't going to collapse, and that the world isn't going to end. Just be prepared and do the best you can do, and have fun at the concert.
     
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Nothing beats learning to seriously prepare. That is the same for academic subjects, picking a mate for the rest of your life, driving a car or playing trumpet. The "what ifs" are minimized by taking the job to be done seriously and not leaving anything to chance.

    I think there is a VERY strong tendency to make excuses instead of just facing the facts. The sooner young players can say: I did not spend enough time, the sooner they rid themselves of the very evil crutch of blaming everything else.

    The mirror is almost always the best solution - a gun is almost always the worst solution. Ever heard the phrase "pointing a mirror". I haven't although it fits here PERFECTLY!
     
  7. The Weez

    The Weez Piano User

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    Hopefully my reply here is mostly on-topic.

    I've always been nervous in front of a crowd. Always felt much more comfortable blended in with the band. Solos are still a killer for me as anxiety sets in tenfold.

    I also have issues with high blood pressure (and I'm only 31). I recently was also diagnosed with sleep apnea and use a CPAP machine. I still have issues with anxiety and nervousness which I've been working on with several specialists. I was also diagnosed with atrial fibrilation (a heart arhythmia) which seems to effect my blood pressure, stress/anxiety, and also fatigue and weakness which effects my overall physical and mental performance. In fact this next weekend I'm traveling to Kansas City for a procedure which will hopefully correct the issue and I can finally get on with my life feeling normal again.

    Sorry if that reply strayed off-topic a bit into me whining about my health problems. :oops:
     
  8. Markie

    Markie Forte User

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    Rowuk sez:
    I never start working on a piece without the breathing marks penciled in.
    ----------
    Now that's about the best advice for trumpet players I've heard in a long time.
     
  9. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

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    I do think that many individuals are affected by stage fright or nerves when they have to play solos to the point that it significantly affects their playing. The good news is that with practice and confidence it can be overcome.

    In science, we refer to this condition as the "fight or flight" response. The adrenal glands kick in, the peripheral vascular system shuts down, heart rate increases dramatically, along with bP, the mouth becomes dry, and so forth. Vision is even affected. Almost everyone experiences some of this when "called out" in front of others. You wouldn't be normal if you didn't.

    Still, there are individuals who seem to be affected far more than others. As a kid, on a scale of 1 to 1000, I was a 1000 regarding stage fright. Although I played first chair, even at All State, I often had to give up solos because I would get so overcome with stagefright that I couldn't play.

    A sympathetic band director did help some. He would often let us play solos as duets. That helped me build a little confidence. It seemed the more I played and the more I was successful, the less the nerves set in. Playing with just a few people around, then a few more, then a few more also helped build confidence. (Psychologists call this approach systematic desensitization).

    While I eventually (by college) achieved the ability to play solos in public, standing up and speaking always put me back in the stagefright panic mode. At one point in my (nonmusic) career, I was selected to travel the state and speak to large groups of individuals. Believe it or not, the first few times, my "stagefright" for speaking was so severe that it caused my heart to throw PVCs and I would about collapse. The effect was also dangerous as it could cause sudden death. After seeing the effect on my heart, my doctor eventually prescribed a heart medication for me to take about 15 minutes before speaking that would block the effects on the heart -allowing me to get through the talk. (This is NOT to advocate medical treatment. The medical treatment was prescribed because the effect I was having would, sooner or later, lead to a heart attack). The more I spoke, and to gradually larger groups over time, my confidence improved and I found myself not even thinking about "the crowd."

    Just so those that have stagefright can know that it can be overcome, here I am, a number of years later, after being a 1000 on the stagefright scale, and I regularly speak to very large groups without any worry. This past Friday I gave a presentation to a large group in DC that included the Secretary of the Smithsonian, head of the National Academies of Science, and many other such individuals. Didn't even phase me-I was more concerned about what was for lunch following my talk than the large group.

    To address stagefright -practice, practice, practice. The more confidence you have in your skills, the better you will be.
    If you find large groups cause stagefright to kick in, try playing in front of just a few people until you build confience and get nerves under control. Slowly build up the number for whom you are performing. If you can play for 6 with no problem, try for 7. 5000 is just 7 with one more added to it 4993 more times.

    Best of luck,

    Steve

    Don't be afraid to privately discuss it with your band director. I imagine many of them were not as self confident when they were starting out as they
    appear now. Best of luck,

    Steve
     
  10. Markie

    Markie Forte User

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    Hi trumpetnick,
    You're absolutley right about the excitement of the moment screwing up a performance.
    This phenomenon is found in just about all sports.
    Preparation on the trumpet can only get a person so far. Perparation does little good if the person is so scared they almost pee themselves.
    The person needs to develop a mental attitude which has little to nothing to do with their trumpet skill if they wish to perform and compete.
    There are several techniques for not getting over-amped before a performance.
    Now this is not to be confused with excited(excited is good!). We're talking about over excited to the point that it gets in the way of getting the job done.
    Being perpared is of course a expected and often gives a modicom of confidence and a sloppy unperpared performance has its own category called "being ashamed". This is different from the student who works and perpares, only to give a lack luster performance because of nerves.
    One of the ways to deal with nerves is to get the student to understand that:
    Everyone makes mistakes and that's OK. "The burden of perfect" is often the root of many a nervous breakdown. "Forget perfect and do your best"

    One technique for when the nerves come along is controlling the breathing. Take deep calm breathes and when the student exhales, tell them to feel the nervousness leave the body as they exhale. It might sound a little crazy, but controlling the breathing works for calming down the over anxious.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2009

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