Performance anxieties...

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Bear, Mar 4, 2005.

  1. Bear

    Bear Forte User

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    So,
    A lil bear can tear it up in the practice rooms and in front of friends, but when the lil bear gets on the stage, he gets nervous, can't breathe, starts shaking and makes stupid mistakes... Anyone else have/had this problem? What were some things you've done to get rid of performance axieties? Yes, I've heard of Beta Blockers but am wary about dopin' up before a concert.
     
  2. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

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    Yee HAW!
    Yep... that's where vibrato comes from... FEAR!!!!

    Seriously, first you have to know your piece so well that there is no question about the music. Second... you have to get "out front" and perform, perform, perform. Start off with "friendly" audiences.... Church is a great place for this... family events, any place where they are going to be positive and supportive. Believe me... the musicians in the audience will sympathize with you and the others will wonder where you got the guts to get up there and do it.

    Eventually you'll accept that the audience is your friend, not your enemy, not your judge and jury. Then it will be fun.
     
  3. silverstar

    silverstar Mezzo Forte User

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    Bear, I'm in the same rut you are.

    If you're the praying type, I've found that it works wonders. Or, you can eat a banana and brush your teeth before you go on....works wonders.

    Lara
     
  4. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

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    Yee HAW!
    If you are "out there" long enough you may also find that the nerves gradually disappear. Last night our Community Band did a joint concert with the UniversityWind Orchestra. Now, these kids are GOOD... many of the about to graduate with their B. Mus. I know many of them (my daughter's buddies) and certainly their director and his wife very well.

    To me, this is a stressful situation... I don't want to be "that old hick who can't play worth crap"... in other words, I want to make sure I get every note with the right dynamic, attack, etc. The first piece or two I could feel my mouth drying up and my heart beating a bit faster than normal; however I quickly started to relax and just have fun with it. I'll tell you, it's sure a lot easier to play when it's fun and not "fighting"!

    I think it's got a lot to do with "getting used to" the situation and enjoying yourself. Don't "sweat the petty stuff" (and don't pet the sweaty stuff)!
     
  5. Bear

    Bear Forte User

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    lol,
    Yeah, vibrato really is from fear... Friend: "Tim, that power ballad with that long high note was gorgeous man! I dug the vibrato and how you moved with the music." Me: "Vibrato? Dude, I was tryin' not to piss my pants cause I was so scared!!"

    Anyways, I've tried the banana thing and it works to an extent. But I think my whole deal is pyscological, I go along, am doin' great and then I miss a note, and I ponder on that note and the rest of the performance goes downhill... I was just wonderin' if anyone has any "tricks" to psyc myself out or something.

    Yeah, toots, I play in front of my church and in large ensembles, but one on one is another story. If it's friends or a girl I like, then it's balls to the wall. But in front of people I don't know, I get scared....
     
  6. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

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    Nervousness, performance anxiety, however you call it, is natural. Many myths abound about dealing with them. I don't think nervousness will ever be completely eliminated. It shouldn't, because (to paraphrase Douglas Yeo) it puts that "edge" on things if you can harness it. I am sure Manny has many more ways or can express them more efficiently than me, but here goes:


    First, Bear, I congratulate you on your choice to avoid beta-blockers.

    There are ways you can teach your body to deal with it. Breathing is of utmost importance in this technique. A big inhale and exhale do wonders to help get us under control. Forcing yourself to concentrate on breathing gets things back on track. This simple act alone can help alleviate shakes, butterflies, wobbly knees, loss of concentration.

    Focus yourself on the MUSIC. Not to mean the printed page, but the music itself. Give a moment over to mentally conceptualize what you are going to play, and how it sounds, and what you want it to sound like.

    If you suffer drymouth, keep a bottle of water backstage (unlike Manny, our personal assistants don't bring Chivas Regal to us on a silver platter during a performance :D ). Use this to RINSE OUT your mouth. I found that drinking it made my tummy more queezy, but rinsing out really relieved drymouth. Onstage, chewing your cheeks or tongue will stimulate the salivary glands and relieve drymouth as well.

    Be sure to eat healthfully. Sounds like the parent in me, but the food you take in is largely responsible for how you can maintain energy, concentration, and deal with stress.

    I hear so many kids (especially the young ones) before concerts say "Oh my G-d- I'm so nervous! Are you nervous?"etc. This only compounds their nerves and makes others around them more nervous. Try not to dwell on it or discuss it.

    Meditation can also be helpful. Picturing a peaceful scene, concentrating on breathing and repeating the thought "relax" can trigger a relaxation (with practice) on simple utterance of the word.

    All of that is simply onstage at-the moment. There is more to performance anxiety, though. Thorough preparation, as Tootsall pointed out, performing experience (again, as Tootsall mentioned) will reduce the amount of nerves you have to deal with. Perform for your freinds, perform for your family members, co-workers. The more you perform, the more you will develop the skill to deal with nerves.

    Hope that is helpful, albeit a bit long.
     
  7. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Bear,

    Examine the way you stand when you perform. Nervousness is only a problem when the muscles start fighting for the right to hold you up. If you are in a position where the muscles are antagonizing each other AND you become nervous, you get into trouble. If you stand in a position where you body is resting on its frame, the skeleton, you are in better shape even if you get a little nervous.

    Let's pretend a bit and use extremes to illustrate the point. If you stand with your heels together and toes apart and your elbows close to your ribs you place your legs and thighs in a position where they're going to fight to keep you up. Your elbows are also in the way of your chest expanding so, you're going to take shallower breaths than when you where in your practice room or wherever.

    These things cause tension that you don't notice when you're calm but when you're nervous, watch out! If you have any access to a good Alexander method teacher who teaches musicians, by all means, avail your self of the knowledge a good Alexander expert has to share. Also, check out what Dave Monette has to say about body use, its amazing. I think it's hard to grasp it from a book or website, though. You said you might be coming to Minnesota this summer, right? If I'm remembering that correctly, we'll do a body use thing and I'll show you what I've learned from Jacobs, Alexander teachers, and Dave. It makes a huge difference.

    ML
     
  8. Lazorphaze

    Lazorphaze Piano User

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    Feb 3, 2004
    i don't really get nervous anymore before concerts.
    what you have to realize about being a musician is that you're in the spotlight, and not everyone is comfortable in the spotlight.
    eventually, you'll get over your fear of performing. like when i was in 6th or 7th grade. i'd get nervous as heck, but now, it's pretty much natural.
    The more you perform, the better you will be at it.
     
  9. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Bear,

    One more thing.

    Check out my answer to Chris under the "Relaxing" post and also consider how much internal singing you do when you play. Do you absolutely FLOOD your mind with the sound of the trumpet a split second before and while you play?

    Something to think about.

    ML
     
  10. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

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    Rochester, MN
    Bear,

    I feel for you, man. I dealt with performance anxiety for years. The treatment depends upon the level of anxiety and how much it negatively impacts your daily life.

    For mild cases, you can overcome anxiety by yourself, by learning relaxation techniques, imagery and positive thought patterns. I'd recommend the writings of Lucinda Bassett http://www.stresscenter.com/lucinda.htm or Andrew G. Goliszek.

    For more severe cases, it is best to get the help of a liscensed professional counselor. Your physician should be able to help you find a good counselor.

    If you want more info PM me.

    HTH,

    Greg
     

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