Performance Anxiety Solution?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by bronxkid31415, Sep 30, 2015.

  1. bronxkid31415

    bronxkid31415 New Friend

    Sep 8, 2015
    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to overcome sounding hesitant (crappy)when rehearsing in a section?
    I play well when noodling, rehersing my part alone, and with my teacher.
    My teacher has suggested medication but I am trying to avoid that route.
  2. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    The answer you are going to receive by many is practice and knowing your part so well that you have confidence. While that is certainly necessary and a step in the right direction, it doesn't always solve the problem. For years I was about paralyzed with stage fright when playing, especially solos or having to speak publically - even when I could play the part perfectly by myself or knew the speech for memory. Reaction in public was really really, bad. I would worry about how I would do, get more nervous, worry more- self feeding cycle. Even got to the point my heart was throwing PVCs and I was concerned I might drop dead.

    By some strange sequence of events I was eventually thrown into some required major public speaking - every day. Quickly realized I would probably drop dead or be fired if I didn't do something. My Dr. prescribed inderal that helped tremendously. BTW- I am not suggesting you do similar unless you exhaust all other methods and then only upon advice of Dr. Anyway, eventually I reached the point where I stopped worrying about the speaking/playing. The more I spoke and played without an issue, the less the nerves bothered me. Today I don't need the inderal - it is no longer a problem.

    Anyway, practice, practice, practice. Another idea is systematic desensitization. Perform with one other person. Then two. Then 3. Continue until you get up to the size that is now setting off your "fight or flight" response. Best of luck.
  3. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    Great reply by Steve.

    I want to add to his comments about "desensitization". I agree that you should look for opportunities to play in front of others and to play with others.

    I remember a story from Chris Botti. He spoke in-depth about the tremendous amount of work it takes to master the trumpet. And then he said that all of that work amounts to only 2% of what it takes to be a performer. His point was that learning how to perform takes a ton of effort.

    Let me add that as a physician, I would only prescribe medicine for performance anxiety if the person in question has a true "performance anxiety disorder", not just "performance anxiety". I'm not saying this to judge anyone who benefited from these medications. And I think Steve's comments on the use of these medications is absolutely correct.

  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
  5. Dennis78

    Dennis78 Fortissimo User

    Feb 1, 2015
    If you ain't nervous there's something wrong with you! Now that you know that lean back, relax and blow
  6. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Welcome to TM, brtonxkid314159265!

    First of all, just about everyone plays well when noodling, because we are consciously or unconsciously avoiding the stuff we can't play and concentrating on the stuff we can. Playing with a teacher is easier because we get to follow, and following is easier than leading. Nothing bad about any of this.

    My suggestion?

    Become a leader.

    This will entail some pretty strict discipline when practicing on your own, because this is where we become our own teachers. I would encourage that you spend considerable time being a slave to the metronome. If you don't have a metronome, get one. Start subdividing. By this I mean having the awareness of, for example, where every sixteenth is in a half-note. A half note is not two beats, but eight sixteenths connected together.

    Get interested in intonation. If you don't already do it in lessons, ask if you can sight-read some duets with your teacher. Those boring looking duets that are nothing but whole-notes are great for learning intonation, more advanced duets for style. Consider getting a tuner--not to become a slave to, but to learn your pitch tendencies. Intonation comes from the ears, not the eyes.

    If you can play your part with impeccable rhythm and good pitch, you are set to lead. Play your part loud enough for the others to hear and proud enough for the others to follow, and listen like crazy!

    When we get really good at this, then there is a strange merger of noodling and clinically precise playing.

    Trumpet is fun!
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    While I do not disagree with any of the above, I find that the discussion here has jumped right into anxiety, something that I don't read into the thread owners post.

    At a lesson or when practicing alone, WE determine when we start a note. In a band situation, the conductor does. I think that you simply are not "ready" to play in band. That comes from "knowing" how long you need to breathe and thus squeezing your inhale into the conductors timing. It means much more tension when inhaling, it means too little air and generally it means a body not ready to make music.

    The key is to lower distractions. Get used(practice) to inhaling properly on the conductors upbeat. Pay closer attention. Check your posture - it needs to allow for a deep but low tension inhale at any time. I am convinced that, in band your timing is way off with breathing. You don't need drugs, they don't help musical breathing or preparation of the body for playing.

    Nothing the OP typed lead me to believe that anxiety triggers the problem. Everything that I read lead me to the conclusion that there is no structure in starting to play. If we learn to strategically place notes instead of letting luck determine their birth, we are a lot closer to the musical truth. As a teacher, I would start conducting during lessons (I do anyway.....)!
  8. Kevin Whiting

    Kevin Whiting Piano User

    Apr 13, 2013
    Greendale, WI.
    6 months after my comeback, had my first performance with community concert band. I was so nervous, I had a hard time playing.

    Next concert, I had a scotch before! Much better.

    Don't know if it was the scotch, or because I better knew what to expect - but who cares. I played much better.

  9. Dennis78

    Dennis78 Fortissimo User

    Feb 1, 2015
    Just relax and those one note "solos" will be played with confidence and power. Just relax
  10. Robbrand

    Robbrand Piano User

    Dec 29, 2014
    Cape Town, South Africa
    I would second this. Inderal is a beta-blocker, which is a cheap, safe and non-addictive drug. I used it similarly to Steve when first embarking on a career of lecturing, for which I was really ill-suited. It just lowers the blood pressure, which means you don't display physical symptoms of stress or anxiety like shaking, but it doesn't sedate you. Because mind follows body, when the physical manifestations of stress disappear, so does the actual stress, in time. Many musicians and other performers use beta-blockers to ease performance anxiety.

    Good luck!

Share This Page