Shaky hands

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by bavestry, Dec 8, 2013.

  1. edfitzvb

    edfitzvb Forte User

    Jun 10, 2008
    Woodlawn, VA
    Any time you are exposed in a musical piece the stakes go up for you and your self-image. No one wants to imagine the audience thinking "I thought he was better than that." The secret is to play as often as possible and if/when something is executed at less then optimum, you must FORGET IT and concentrate on the next note.
    Yesterday in church I was the only trumpet player there. This meant a lot of playing and no way to hide. My standards in that situation are to strive for absolute perfection... all dynamics executed correctly and tastefully, no cracks, no sloppy attacks, clean intervals, in short... perfect. After 2 services, my score was 5 "mistakes." I doubt that anyone else remembers the mistakes other than me. Had I dwelled on "that attack was not as clean as it should have been" instead of "let's get the next one RIGHT" I would have made probably 10 times the amount of mistakes. Shoot for the moon and get as close as you can, and FOCUS on the sound, not yourself. In the end, that is what is important.
    Trumpet playing will make you a humble man.
  2. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Greg, yours sounds like an extreme case - I think that most people deal with some performance anxiety to varying degrees, and most of it can be overcome with the advice given here. I think that most younger and inexperienced performers get it worse than people who have been gigging and playing a while.

    I remember doing my very first competition solo as a 9th grader in high school. Shakes, shortness of breath, cottonmouth, elevated heart rate, inability to focus and think coherently - I was dealing with all of that in the minute or so before I started to play. Fortunately, once I did start I got some of it under control and managed to do well and earn a "1" rating, but after it was done it was a similar feeling of having been in a school yard fight. The after-effects of a large dump of adrenaline like that left me in a state where I was actually fighting off the urge to cry.

    I experienced that one other time when I was in the Old Guard after a performance of our show at Spirit of America. We nailed the show and had nearly 15,000 people in the arena on their feet, screaming and cheering, and the adrenaline rush was unreal. I think that part of it might have been amped up from the fact that my Mom was in attendance and it was the first time she'd seen me perform with the FDC, but it was the same thing - I was walking through the corridor under the arena to get back to our dressing area, and fighting back the tears. Adrenaline - it's a heckuva drug! :D

    In any case, I think most of us have experienced performance anxiety and the effects of adrenaline due to the fight-or-flight instinct, but I think that only people who have extreme cases need to seek out actual medical treatment for it.
  3. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    Let me restate:
    If it is debilitating, that is, prevents one from performing routine tasks part of life, then it can be considered an illness.

    If one routinely plays trumpet in front of an audience and consistently is experiencing what the OP is describing, then it
    seems to be more than a nuisance. It would make sense to speak to a medical professional about it.

    Why are people so quick to dismiss this sort of illness as something that can be overcome with advice from strangers?

    If one has a broken arm, does one go one the internet and start asking people how to fix a broken arm?

    Doctors are not just good for "physical" problems. They are also good for disorders of the sort that make it impossible to do mundane
    tasks reliably.
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I understand, but in this situation, do we know it's a broken arm? Maybe it's just a bruise. Do you go to the doctor every time you have a bruise? Maybe I'm an exception here, but other than wanting to get tested for Lyme disease a few months back, mostly as a preventative measure after a tick bite didn't heal quite like I expected, I can't honestly say when I last went to the doctor or why. I certainly don't go every time I have a sniffle or sore throat, or any time I get a minor bruise, scrape, sprain, etc - it's been my experience that the doc often doesn't tell me what I don't already know, and sometimes they can miss what is seemingly obvious - depends on the doc of course. I'm the one who diagnosed my wife's gallstones - the doc apparently completely missed what I felt based on on my sister's symptoms and what I had read, were pretty obvious symptoms. It was only after my wife brought it up (at my insistence) that she ordered tests that confirmed it - she'd previously been treating it as indigestion. But I digress.

    We really don't know much about our OP, but if I had to take a wild stab at it, my guess is that we're working with a student, possibly in high school, maybe still in middle school, and they are dealing with run-of-the-mill performance anxiety due to the fact that they don't have much experience performing at all, and what they are currently dealing with is quite normal. I'm not dismissing that it can be a dibilitating psychological issue, but at the same time I'm not making it into something it may not be due to the limited information we have about our OP.

    It's written in such a way that it leads me to believe it's a younger person - young people these days don't tend to add a lot of detail. Someone in our age category would have added a fair amount more - the kinds of bands and solo situations, the type of music, how often they perform or are required to play a solo, etc. If it was someone older, they can typically choose when or when not to solo. A student has to play in front of their peers at the request of their teacher, whether they really care to or not - that's part of being in an academic musical ensemble.

    When I initially saw this thread I was half inclined not to respond at all due to the fact that our OP only has 2 whole posts to their credit - we've got almost nothing to work with. The post above and this one below is all we have to work with:

    To me, this says 'student,' and younger, rather than older. The questions are too broad, and a bit too elementary to be anyone with much more experience, although it could be someone trying to make a comeback after decades off the horn. Anyone else - an older student or regular gigging player - wouldn't be asking what are essentially basic questions about basic playing fundamentals.

    Or at least that's how I see it.

    Tons of respect for you Greg - not trying to diminish your issue at all - I'm just saying that based on what I see, it's likely not the case with our OP.
  5. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    No offense.

    My goal was for people not to disregard a real illness as a one time case of the jitters.
    Sure, everyone can get the jitters in a new, unsafe environment.

    It is when the environment is familiar and the jitters becomes disruptive to the persons' life, that is when
    something more is going on.
  6. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Hi Gzent,
    You are absolutley right. There's a condition called Asperger syndrome. It's a type of autism and is still currently classed (I think) as a high functioning type of autism. A couple of notable behaviors are problems with social interactions, making eye contact, and a host of other things that would cause a person to worry about getting on stage.
    Interestingly, Asperger's recently (I heard) was removed from the DSM.
    However, when looking at the Poster's situation, I would think that a least restrictive approach is the prudent route. Lack of courage isn't Asperger's but Asperger's will mess with the courage you have. If the person has similar problems in other areas of life, then get tested.
  7. rwyckoff46

    rwyckoff46 New Friend

    Dec 6, 2009
    Roxbury, MA
    I'll second the motion on no alcohol no caffeine. It takes several days to clear either out of your system. If you have a critical performance, best stay away from them for the week before if not entirely. The other suggestion I have is that when it comes time to play it should be fun and you should approach it with the idea that you will really enjoy playing the music. All the hard work has been done in the practice room. The stage is the place to have fun, listen to your fellow musicians and play in the full sense of the word.
  8. Comeback

    Comeback Forte User

    Jun 22, 2011
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Nothing substantial to add other than thank you to all who have posted. Our OP stimulated a valuable exchange of ideas, many of which are helpful to me too. The discussion has remained on topic and has been respectful - very cool.

  9. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    I think it is important to bring up the possibility of this being a medical issue. I wouldn't dismiss the severity that just a case of fear and stage fright can effect a player either. I remember being locked on to the side of a swimming pool even though I had had swim lessons and passed the final swim test. It wasn't until my parents, Aunt and Uncle made a safety line for me to swim next to that I finally let go of the poolside.
  10. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    It was not removed, but rather placed in what is now called the Autism Spectrum.

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