Performance Anxiety

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by skuni, Jun 2, 2007.

  1. Khora

    Khora Piano User

    Sep 17, 2006
    New York
    Don't we all!

    How often do you get to perform, and in what kind of situations?

    We all need to practice performing, as well as practice the music. One thing to do is to find low pressure situations where you can perform, and just do it as often as you can.

    There are no magic bullets.
  2. skuni

    skuni Piano User

    Jan 20, 2006
    Raleigh, NC
    This wedding yesterday is really the first time it has been bad since college. I play church gigs and wind ensemble stuff pretty regularly and I usually keep everything in check. I have played weddings before but not in a few years, maybe that is all it was, a my first true solo performance in a while. Playing in an ensemble doesn't bother me beyond the normal bit of nerves.
  3. Mark Bradley

    Mark Bradley Pianissimo User

    Jan 16, 2007
    Kansas City
    I think every performer has some degree of anxiety before strapping it on in front of an audience-- if you don't you are probably nuts. I was at a special seminar with Susan Slaughter, principle trumpet of the St.Louis symphony and some young trumpet performance major had the "honor" of playing for her during her class. He was good but sort of flubbed up a bit. Susan asked what happened and he muttered something like... "er, sorry I was a bit nervous," etc.

    Ms. Slaughter jacked him up right there in front of god and everybody else. In essence she said you're majoring in a job were you play the trumpet in front of people. If you can't handle it you might well consider getting in another line of work. She wasn't being a jerk, she was right. Do what you need to do to get a handle on the nerves-- there are many ways to do it but if you're going to be a performer you'd jolly well learn to deal with it.

    Any fool can be fearless-- be it cluelessly charging headlong into battle or jamming above his head and sounding like crap in front of 1000 people.

    COURAGE is when you're afraid to do something... but you do it anyway.

    Confidence, experience and that practice thing is also rather important (ha!).
  4. Mark Bradley

    Mark Bradley Pianissimo User

    Jan 16, 2007
    Kansas City
    Oh, and I should point out this so Ms. Slaughter's dressing down of the young man doesn't seem too callous: she went on to describe in detail her very much still ongoing and huge battle with performance anxiety and how she manages to control it using hypnosis, therapy, and goodness knows what else. Amazing!
  5. Siegtrmpt

    Siegtrmpt Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 21, 2005
    I completely agree. Ms. Slaughter is right on the money. I say the same thing to the pilots I teach (as well as the musicians). Landing close to the runway just doesn't cut it. Devote your attention to the task at hand. If you're giving it everything you've got you have no time to be thinking and worrying about all sorts of other silly crap that gets in the way of performing.
  6. Mr. Stomvi

    Mr. Stomvi Pianissimo User

    Nov 14, 2003
    Skuni - This is my routine. While it doesn't "solve" the problem completely - it has helped me TREMENDOUSLY.

    1. Preperation - know the piece cold. Be able to pick the horn up any time of the day and without any warmup - play it perfectly

    2. No caffeine or other stimulants the day of the performance

    3. Learn meditation or self hypnosis techniques - control breathing

    4. Eat two banannas 1-2 hours before your performance - contains tryptophan - same as in turkey but wont put you to sleep - helps relax you.

    5. Take 10mg Indirol (Propranolol) 1.5 hours before performance. Indirol is a beta blocker only available by prescription so check with your doc.

    Seth Moore
  7. Hardnut

    Hardnut Pianissimo User

    Feb 24, 2006
    South England
    In addition to all the great advice that has been given above, you might want to consider beta blockers, as Mr. Stomvi suggests. I used to get incredibly nervous when performing, physically shaking with my tone suffering a great deal as a result, so I went to see the doctor and asked if he could do anything. I have a repeat prescription for beta blockers which essentially slow your heart rate down, meaning that I can play in a concert without trembling! I don't think I actually need the pills any more, but its kind of a habit now...its worth thinking about if you dont think you can overcome the performance anxiety with the other methods...

    It works for me, and I hope this helps,

  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    There is a lot of questions to be asked if you can only play under the influence of otherwise unneeded medicines. I do not recommend this route. There are enough psychological approaches that work and better the spirit at the same time (Hatha Yoga for instance)!
    You should have your blood pressure checked though (under physical pressure like a bicycle or similar!). I had an issue a couple years ago during the Hummel. In the second movement I started to tremble and could hardly control it:
    Diagnosis: Blood pressure 215/150 when under pressure
    Cure: new job (the old boss was a REAL problem) and a CPAP maschine to handle my apneas.
  9. stchasking

    stchasking Forte User

    Jun 11, 2006
    I too have high blood pressure and use a prescription beta blocker called Metapropolol. It keeps the heart rate down so the "fight or flight" mechanism in your brain turns to "I don't care." I play fine with it.

    Young people should not rely on medication. Beta Blockers are a heart medication and healthy hearts don't need medication. Beta Blockers can cause other problems such as when you are standing while playing. Do any of you get lite headed while standing in church waiting to play?

    The best advice I heard was to practice the first couple of measures of every entrance. How many of us have false starts when practicing in private? I do all the time. I am now working on a perfect attack and start of every piece of music I play. From Colin to Aratunian to Geodeke you name it whatever I play (in practice) I set up and try for the perfect attack.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2007
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    St. Charles,
    is light headed the same as my halo being too tight?............

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