Performance anxiety

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Hornlife98, Dec 3, 2014.

  1. Hornlife98

    Hornlife98 Pianissimo User

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    Hello all,
    I have a big Tennessee All-Midstate audition coming up on December 13th. My instructor says I could go from anywhere from the top of the state to not even placing at all due to my performance anxiety. I will be asked to play my chromatic scale, a one-octave major scale and a two-octave major scale, two prepared excerpts, and three sight reading pieces in ascending difficulty.

    The scales will come first, and these are crucial to my advancement and confidence. I know my scales well, but, occasionally, when I imaginatively place myself in the audition room and perform my scales, my fingers literally die and I screw up scales that I usually play really quickly and well. I have worked ages for this audition...before everyone else started caring.

    The scales are not the only culprit. My fingering ability during tricky, but generally mastered passages in my prepared excerpts, goes out the window as well.

    My sight-reading ability is my weakness, and this is the one section of the audition that I feel confident and almost anxiety free, since the judges are more lenient regarding cracked notes and such...my perception of this audition is truly an enigma.


    I have been trying to shake this performance anxiety for weeks, but I have failed thus far.

    What should I do? I realllllllly want to do well.
     
  2. Newell Post

    Newell Post Piano User

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    That is a tough one. I used to have things like that, but it was completely unpredictable. Most times I was cool as a cucumber but once in a while, I would get an attack of nerves that I just couldn't control in any way.

    Here are some "conventional wisdom" things to try....

    1. Breathe deep, long, and slow for several minutes before you go on.
    2. Practice in front of real people that you don't know at every opportunity. Some of the people you see "busking" on the street do it for just this reason... playing in front of live people you don't know.
    3. One thing they tell theater actors to do is to visualize everyone in the audience sitting there buck naked. (Seriously.)
    4. Don't allow yourself to even think about the consequences of failure. Spend all of your time before you go on visualizing a triumphal success.
    5. Just throw yourself into it and go all out.
     
  3. Tjnaples

    Tjnaples Piano User

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    Be as prepared as you can be first off. Second, here is a great breathing technique the SEALS use...seriously it's that boss. 3-5 breaths, each breath is 12 seconds. 4 secs in, hold 4 secs, out 4 secs. Here's the trick, big diaphragm and not chest breaths. Place your hand on your stomach over the belly button, your hand should move. If not lie down and practice on a couch or bed.

    This floods your body with oxygen as most likely it has been starved with the shallow chest breaths setting you up for a real calm. Lastly we all bring a uniqueness to our playing, it's all valid. Try to remember you like playing trumpet. And that its a joy...couldn't hurt! You got this :-)
     
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I know of no quick fix for anxiety. Of course preparation is an issue, but lifestyle is also a key factor. Get lots of sleep, stay hydrated, avoid frustrating people. Minimize salt.

    We are creatures of habit. More sleep means starting today, as does the rest. Go for long walks to clear your head. That teaches the skills that you need to "clear your head" when anxiety crops up.

    For the future: plan MONTHS not DAYS to cope with personal issues. Preparation is a long term venture.

    Perhaps one more thing. When adjudicating, there is one issue that crops up more than anything else: Irregular breathing. Mark your score with necessary breathing marks - AND USE THEM EXCLUSIVELY. Do not modify breathing behaviour on the fly. I see the crash and burn coming during auditions every time a student starts gulping air at unmusical places.
     
  5. Hornlife98

    Hornlife98 Pianissimo User

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    I've decided I will not worry. There's no reason to worry about a major mistake if I am well-prepared. I will give the judges a show; I want them to give them a memorable performance.

    Thanks guys.
     
  6. Newell Post

    Newell Post Piano User

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    You've got the right idea. Enjoy it.
     
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I will comment AFTER the 13th.........
     
  8. Hornlife98

    Hornlife98 Pianissimo User

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    I will include a link of how I place...probably on this thread.
     
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Being well-prepared is the #1 thing. If you go into an audition and you know you aren't prepared, your nerves will be worse than if you have more confidence in your preparation. I know that one firsthand - I had a major crash and burn on a military band audition because I knew there were 2 excepts on the list that I was having problems with, but coupled with that was the fact that I hadn't taken an audition of any kind in about 10 years, so I hadn't refreshed any of my coping mechanisms for dealing with nerves.

    I suggest that between now and the 13th, you schedule a series of mock auditions in front of people you know, and particularly people who know about music. Friends, family, teachers - anyone who can scrutinize. Even make up some adjudication sheets so they can grade specific aspects of your audition. It will help. I should have done that prior to the audition I took, but I didn't have that kind of network to put the mock auditions together. You should be able to make it happen though.

    Keep us posted.
     
  10. Comeback

    Comeback Forte User

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    Fine idea, Patrick. Best wishes to the OP for a good audition!
    Jim
     

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